Voices From the Farm: More Lambs, More Puppies, More Battles With Mama

April, 1967

It did not take us long after bringing Charlie home, to discover “Charlie” was a female, and we rather suspected she was probably pregnant…

Lisa and Tatters' puppy, Chocolate

Which, of course, would explain why the dairy was so happy to give her to us. But that was okay, we were glad to add her to our menagerie.  She was a very sweet dog!

We did not think Charlie was a very good name for a mother-to-be, so we changed her name. We thought most people would have called her “Rags.” That was on the right track, but didn’t seem to fit her well, so we decided on “Tatters” — perfect!

When springlike weather broke out, I had dug out the cold frame, so the frozen ground below could thaw out. A few days later, I put in a good amount of aged sheep manure, then covered it with good garden soil. After this sat for a few days and warmed up, it was ready to plant with seeds for some early lettuce, radishes, and also some flowers. I had already planted peat pots of tomatoes and peppers, which also went into the cold frame to grow until they could be moved to the garden later on,

Lambing was imminent, and on April 5, the night turned very cold. Sure to Go lambed, twins again, a ram and a ewe, but the male lamb was quite small and did not survive the first night. The ewe lamb, however, was fine. She became known as “Lambkins”.

The lambings were spread out this year, and during the interval between them, I was able to get the 500 windbreak trees planted in mid April. Only one more year to go now, and the windbreak would be complete.

Sheba lambed on April 30, a single ewe lamb, “Snicklefritz.” Sheba’s milk was slow to come in however, and Snicklefritz needed supplementing for a few days. Fortunately Sure to Go had a plentiful milk supply when she lambed, and I had milked some colostrum from her and put in the freezer, so I was able to give Snicklefritz colostrum and get her off to a good start.

It is always a good idea to freeze some colostrum during the previous years’ lambing, but if you did not, then you should  milk some colostrum from the first ewe to lamb, and freeze it, so you have it in case of an emergency.

Fast on the heels of Sheba’s lambing, Tatters had four puppies, one male and three females on May 3rd. All was well, and it was an exciting time with lambs and puppies bursting out all over, but no time to just relax and enjoy it all, as on May 8, Mama gave birth to triplets! One ram, two ewes. The ram lamb was small, but lively, the ewe lambs were both good sized.

Lisa and Mama's triplet bottle lamb

Mama, after lambing in the afternoon, “owned” all three lambs. But, true to form, by the next morning she would only own one ewe lamb… and the battle was on! We did not expect her to feed three lambs, and we were willing to feed one, but we were not going to let her get away with feeding only one lamb. Not this year!

The new headgate had been built in the manger. By adding an extra 2×4 between two of the uprights in the manger, and fastening it to the bottom of the manger with a long bolt and washers, it could be moved to make a stanchion. Mama could not turn her head to see or smell the lambs, which were put in a pen behind her. The pen was formed by cutting a hog panel into three sections and hinging them together to form three sides of the pen, with the manger being the fourth side.

This worked out very well. Since she could not tell who was nursing, she soon settled down and fed the two ewe lambs. We took the ram lamb to be bottle fed. We knew we would have to feed one lamb at any rate, as a ewe has only two teats, and even if they try to feed three lambs, one lamb will usually get shorted and not grow well.

But at least, Mama lost the war this time, and we were happy to be feeding one bottle lamb rather than two, as lamb milk replacer is expensive, much more so than calf milk replacer, because the fat content is so much higher. The rich milk is why lambs grow so fast.

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4 comments to Voices From the Farm: More Lambs, More Puppies, More Battles With Mama

  • Every story is another vicarious adventure. Love the names you have given all the animals. We, too, like different and out of the ordinary names. Thanks for the wonderful stories. Mary

    • Lea McEvilly

      Mary,

      The naming of animals was always interesting, everyone had an idea, but Lisa was pretty much the official “name dropper”, but not always! When we got beyond 50 or more ewes, we gave up on names, and went to numbered ear tags. Of course a few exceptional individuals still got names in addition to a tag.

      When the ear tags started getting lost, and we really needed to keep good official records, we went to tatooing their ears. That gave us a permanent record, but it was a terrible job! The sheep were not really into tatoos!

      Always appreciate your comments!

      Lea

  • When a lamb looses a baby, do they appear to know? I can not believe you had triplets- and to the momma who only wanted to feed one. I can relate to you and the lambs as I pumped and frooze my milk so there would always be some around if I was not. It sounds like it was a very lively spring/summer around your house with all the babies running around. Be careful where you step. I can not believe with all that going on, that you still had time to plant trees!! If I could only have a 1/4 of your energy!!

    • Lea McEvilly

      Sands,

      It depends on the circumstances. If they have another lamb, or lambs, they seem to accept it and take it in stride. But some ewes will stay by a lamb that was either born dead, or died shortly after being born; they will have cleaned the lamb of fluids and mucous, and paw at it to try and make it get up. Eventually of course, they give up and leave it.

      However, if a ewe has triplets, and you take one to be bottled, usually on the 2nd day, they will call back and forth for a day or two, even if they cannot see each other. The mother will be in lambing pen in the lower barn, and the lamb in a bottle lamb pen in the upper main barn. Like people, some sheep have better mothering instincts than others.

      As for the energy, I could use some of that these days…”the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

      Thanks for your comment.

      Lea