The Wool is Off!

We started preparing the sheep for shearing several days in advance.  This being the second wettest year on record, we knew it was essential to make sure the sheep and their wool were dry before shearing.  And we knew that the shearing would not be easy because the fleeces are huge and there was mud and other unappealing stuff in the wool, especially at the back end.  So we decided to trim hooves and administer dewormer before shearing rather than during the process, and we undertook to clean up the backsides by clipping the area with hand shears. Definitely no one’s idea of a fun activity, but wet poopy wool gums up the electric clippers Beth uses and makes the whole process much more laborious.

This year we decided to pen the sheep overnight to keep them dry (yes, it rained after a sunny day) and to withhold food from them.  We thought they would complain loudly about this–missing both dinner and breakfast–but instead they all relaxed, laid down inside the stall, and chewed their cud all night.  It was a peaceful scene until they saw us and began clamoring for food.

Here they are, ready for shearing.   If space allows, sheep will run when we approach to handle them, and that creates stress for all of us. Hence the portable gates that pull everyone together into a snug bunch.  The shearing area will be set up in the far corner of the stall.

Beth is getting ready to remove over 10 pounds of wool from this ewe.  Our daughter Susan  (who is also the designer of our website) has come out to help.  She grew up on our farm, raised 4-H and FFA lambs, and has a way with animals.  It takes two people to bring an unwilling sheep away from her flock-mates to the shearing ‘floor’ (in our case, a piece of plywood).  So, two shepherds (John and Susan), one shearer (Beth), and one wool-packer (Marilyn)–I label plastic bags with the sheep’s name and year, grab the obviously undesirable parts of the fleece as they come off and throw them away, then fold up the fleece and stuff it into the bag.

In the next photo, Beth has shorn the belly, neck, and head.  She is about half done.  Next she will roll the sheep over to take the wool off her other side in long smooth strokes.  Shearing is not for those with weak backs!  Note how lovely the wool looks from the inside.

We do not rush the shearing.  Between sheep, we discuss the flock and our plans for it, assess the health of each individual, and allow ourselves to rest.  After about 3 hours, we have 11 fleeces bagged up and the sheep are ready to go out to the pasture.  The lambs and mothers have located each other (sometimes a challenge due to the change in mom’s appearance), and I imagine it feels good to have all that heavy wool off.

Soon they are out on the pasture, doing what they do best–munching.  Now the real fun begins for the fiber artists:  sorting, skirting, soaking, and washing the wool.

New Ladies Join the Flock

We recently learned that Harriet and Tom Beck were going to be leaving their farm due to medical issues, and needed to find a new home for their last four ewes.  Turns out they were mostly Romneys.  So naturally, I felt we should consider taking them on.  The loss of Reyna last fall left us with only three breeding Romney ewes, one of them a yearling, and Willow– who is a Blue-Faced Leicester and not a Romney.  So after much contemplation and many emails back and forth with the Becks, we took the plunge.  We ended up with the four lovely ladies, each 6-7 years old, and the loading ramp that was quite helpful in getting them onto the truck.

It was a shock for them to be moved at this stage in life.  We put them in with “the boys”–Ralph the ram, three young wethers due to go to ‘freezer camp’ soon, and Rufus, our natural colored wether.  Ralph was very welcoming, and joined the four newcomers as soon as we opened the gates and allowed the sheep to mingle.  He slept near them for several nights and grazed with them on the hill.  The other boys have essentially ignored the ladies.

Here they are, shortly after arrival.

They had names, but we chose to assign new ones to most of them.  They don’t mind.  Clockwise from the left front, they are Ruby, Sally, Rose, and Lucy.  Lucy is a cross-bred ewe who seems to be mostly Border Leicester, though Harriet was not sure about that since her wool is not much like a Border Leicester, and the only notes they had called her a Montadale cross.  The three Romneys definitely need a good forehead trim!

Willow becomes a mother–big time!

Willow went into the lambing pen on the evening of March 5th, because she was clearly uncomfortable with contractions, stretching, and pawing the ground.  I checked her hourly until midnight, then at 4 am, and John checked around 7:30, and there was no evident progress.  Here she is in her “confinement’.

I spent time with her during the snowy morning, and she was very agitated, pawing the ground and circling the pen, but never lying down to push a lamb out.  I went inside around 10:30.  John checked on her a few minutes later and came back to say, “she’s really into it, you better not get on your exercise bike just yet.”  Turns out she was lying down, pushing with all her might.   I got in the pen but just observed several big contractions.  Then I noticed a foot.  Just one foot and no nose.  So I put gloves on and began to help.  Pushed the leg back in, gently, to try to find its mate.  Watched for a nose–oh my gosh, it is big.  Got hold of both front feet and pulled gently with a contraction.  Stretched the opening to allow the head to slide through.  Aah, there it is.  Seconds later, about 11:00, a very big female lamb was lying at her mother’s nose.  She weighed in at 14 lbs.


After the birth, Willow rested for half an hour and allowed her new baby to feed.  She did well with licking and calling to her lamb.  With encouragement, she got up, but then began pawing the ground again, circling the stall.  This went on for hours.  There was a thin white cord hanging from her vulva, which did not look like an umbilical cord to me.  Here is a little video of Willow’s pawing.

Finally, it was almost 3:00 and we needed to have some lunch, so I went into the house.  45 minutes later, I headed for the barn.  John made the pointed comment that I was going “to see if the afterbirth has come.”  He did not believe there could be a second lamb with such a big first one.  But a quick glance showed me there was another lamb in the pen.  I went back to the house and said to John, “that is the biggest afterbirth I have ever seen, and it is walking around.  You better come and see.”

Though he weighs 10 1/2 pounds, he looks scrawny next to his big sister.  He has more of the Blue-Faced Leicester look, with gray ears, a narrow head, and those big eyes.  Willow got busy licking him, but soon she was pawing the ground again!  We thought maybe this time it would be the afterbirth.  There were cords, veins, and other tissues hanging from her vulva.  But soon she laid down and began pushing.  A bulge emerged, but I could find no feet, no nose.  The third lamb was coming breech.  And when it was finally expelled, we could see that it was not viable.  So the little 7 1/2 pound stillborn lamb was buried.  How amazing that Willow, a first-time mother, was carrying over 30 pounds of lambs.  In a way, the loss of the triplet is a good thing.  It is much easier for a ewe to feed and care for two lambs, given that she has just two teats.

The week-long birth

Here is the story of Clarissa’s last week of pregnancy.  Clarissa is 7 years old, quite chubby, has bad feet (hooves that just don’t look right and occasional lameness), and has beautiful shiny white wool that we really like.

Tuesday Feb 21:  I notice a pink protrusion that doesn’t resemble a birth sac when Clarissa stands up.  Oh no, I have seen this before–the start of a prolapse.  Not surprising, as Clarissa is enormously wide with lambs.  Just a month ago when we trimmed wool and checked udders for signs of pregnancy, she had no udder to speak of and I wondered if she was pregnant.  Now there is little doubt.  I call the vet and Dr. Steve discusses options for home treatment.  Get her off the hill, reduce her feed (to free up abdominal space), and push the protrusion back in if it doesn’t go itself.  I push the darn thing in hourly all day  (always bathing it with an antiseptic solution and wearing a glove) until 4 pm, when it magically seems to stay put all the way till the next morning.

Wednesday – Monday:  Same thing.  We put her in a lambing pen and gave her the south end of the corral as her own space.  We confined Willow with her for a few days so she would not be lonely. Gave her small amounts of alfalfa and grain a few times a day.  Sometimes the prolapse stays in for several hours, sometimes it is out every time we check.  Allowed her on pasture one day and the next morning she was in agony with the largest protrusion yet.

Monday Feb 27:  I call the Vet again and arrange for a farm visit on Wednesday.  The plan is for Dr. Megan to help us determine whether to induce the birth with medications or to manually remove the lambs or to keep waiting.  Monday night, Clarissa seems to be in heavy labor at the bedtime check.  So I get all the birth-assisting supplies and climb in to the pen only to find the prolapse.  I don one of those shoulder-length vet gloves and use my whole forearm to replace the tissues.  This is not fun for either of us, but I don’t feel it is right to leave her with her innards on the outside.

Tuesday Feb 28:  Having introduced I don’t know how many germs into her body, I call the vet again.  I ask if we can move the visit to today, but the schedule is too tight.  I ask for advice.  Dr. Steve and Dr. Megan confer, and Dr. Megan calls me back.  She says that the best option is to hang on until the visit tomorrow, to continue what we are doing and hope that the birth happens soon.   I watch Clarissa closely all morning, noting her activities.  She is somewhat perky–for her.  She waddles out to the pasture and stands next to the fence to commune with the rest of the flock.  She stops every 20 feet or so, experiences a contraction of some sort, then keeps going.  She rubs her head on the fences, takes big drinks at the water trough, and mostly stays on her feet.  When she lies down, she immediately has big contractions–but when I check her, there is nothing protruding.  About 1:30 I begin to realize that this is labor.  She is licking her lips, sniffing the ground where she last laid down and some fluids escaped, and when she lies down there are big pushing contractions.  I get my gloves on and look.  No prolapse.  I decide to gently push my fingers into the opening to see what I feel.  I feel a big NOSE, right there, just inside the opening!  Oh my gosh!  Where are the feet–lambs are supposed to emerge in diving position, nose resting on front legs.  I feel around the nose and discover one foot, two feet.  Clarissa is panting and pushing.  I grab the feet and the lamb pulls one of them back.  I lose my grip and Clarissa TAKES OFF, out of the pen.  Of course I should have tied the gates closed before I started this, but I just wasn’t expecting to find a lamb right there at the door, so to speak.  I race behind Clarissa, holding on to the feet, and ultimately the legs extend outward.  Back in the pen, I am trying to gently pull downward, but everything seems so STUCK, and I am thinking this lamb will DIE if I don’t get it out of here soon because for sure the cord will be crimped.   Clarissa is straining, I am holding on to those legs and trying to ease the vagina open around the nose, and head.  At last, the forehead pops through.  In seconds, the lamb is lying in the straw.  I wipe fluids from the lamb’s nose and drag the HUGE lamb up near his mother so she can smell and lick him.  She knows exactly what to do, and industriously licks him for the next half hour.

When I get the chance, I weigh him:  13 1/2 pounds, a gigantic lamb!  I dip his navel in iodine to prevent infection.  Finally, I show him where his mama’s teat is, even while she is lying down.  He clamps on immediately.  Here is a video of this lamb’s very first feeding.  Turn your volume on–you will not believe how vigorous he is.

This little boy is so big I can’t imagine she would have another.  The spent umbilical cord is hanging out of her, indicating that the placenta will be birthed next.  So I take a break–clean up, replace all the lambing supplies where they belong, make myself a cup of coffee.  John arrives home just as I am returning to check on the mom and baby.  It’s 3:30.  I tell him all about the birth, and as we stand there watching, Clarissa lies down and begins straining.  At first I think it is the afterbirth she is trying to deliver.  But the straining goes on, BIG contractions. A “water balloon” emerges, indicating that another lamb is on the way.  Clarissa strains mightily, then gets up for a few minutes.  Repeats this  several times.  I can see a nose, then part of a forehead, inside the water balloon.  Again, where are the feet?  It seems these lambs are so big that their feet can’t come through along with their noses.  I put on a glove and climb in to the pen to see if I can help.  Sure enough, the feet are tucked in under the lamb’s chin.  A couple of quick tugs on slippery legs, and the whole head comes through.  The rest of the body slides gently out.  This lamb is covered with the mysterious yellow dye that one twin often displays.  It is a girl, and weighs the same as her brother, 13 1/2 pounds.  Clarissa is exhausted.  She licks for a few seconds, then seems to doze off.  I give her another ounce of propylene glycol, just small amounts at a time so she doesn’t cough or choke.  She perks up.  Within minutes the little yellow ewe is scrambling to her feet and demanding something to eat.  In this picture you can see the pink umbilical cord.  The lamb seems to have landed in some alfalfa, which is decorating her right side.  She is not yet 5 minutes old.

In the evening when I check on them, all three are on their feet.  Mama turns to one lamb and sniffs, then starts to lick.  A few seconds later she sees the other lamb, and starts to lick that one.  This is repeated over and over, and is the reason we pen mothers up with their lambs for a couple of days.  I help the little girl find the teat and she latches on fiercely!

At bedtime check, Clarissa is resting comfortably with both lambs curled up against her.  The second afterbirth (yes, there were two!) has been delivered, removed and buried.

What a day.  I am so relieved for Clarissa.  And for us.  So thankful for healthy lambs and good mothers.

Wednesday, March 1:  Dr. Megan came at 2 pm, expecting to deal with a prolapsing pregnant ewe.  I had called the vet’s office to let her know that the lambs had arrived and to ask that the appointment be kept so that she could check Clarissa for any after-effects.  It was delightful to show her these beautiful lambs.  She examined Clarissa carefully and concluded that all is well, no evidence of infection or illness.

Friday, March 3:  Clarissa and her lambs were released from their pen this morning.  They went to the front pasture for an hour, then returned to the barn for a rest.  When I went to check on them, I found the boy sprawled flat on the ground, sound asleep from the exertion of his trip to the pasture, and the little girl perched comfortably on top of her mother.  Clarissa clearly feels so much better with her lambs out!

First Lambs of 2017

On Sunday the 19th, we were home all day doing farm chores, weaving and spinning.  When I went to the barn to feed the sheep their dinner, I found Raven standing near a newborn lamb, licking and calling to it.  In anticipation we had already set up a lambing pen, so it was very easy to get this experienced mother and her baby into the nearby pen.  John just picked up the wet lamb, held it under mama’s nose, and walked backward into the pen.  20 minutes later Raven took a quick break from lamb-licking to lie down and deliver its twin (a few grunts and three pushes was all it took).  Two boys, both white, 12 and 11 1/2 pounds.  A classic, easy birth and a great way to start the 2017 lambing season.  We had hoped for a natural colored ewe lamb, but we’re happy to have these healthy little guys.  The one on the right is less than 5 minutes old in this picture.


Lambs arrive!

In January, we give the ewes a booster shot to prevent overeating diseases, and we check their bellies and udders to assess how close they are to having lambs.  With hand shears, we cut away some of the wool that can make the udder hard for baby lambs to find.  This year, we  noted that a few ewes were observed consorting with Robert in early and mid October.  Add five months and you can predict that lambs will arrive in March.

Sure enough, they did:  all but one arrived within 10 days of each other, then there was a gap of about three weeks until the very last baby was born to a first-time mother.  We have six females and two males.  All were good sized, generally over 10 lbs.  However, we lost two big, apparently healthy lambs during the birth process.  Most likely they got stuck and the cord was pinched.  Life on the farm definitely has its ups and downs.

Rebecca and her twins
Rebecca and her twins
A pack of lambs with a watchful ewe nearby. 2-3 weeks old.
A pack of lambs with a watchful ewe nearby. 2-3 weeks old.

Shearing time

We had a week of dry weather in April and jumped at the chance to shear the sheep.  Their wool was very long and they had not yet been released out to the lush grass.  We know that the wool can get very messy once they begin to eat that fresh grass.  13 sheep to shear, no big deal for those Aussie shearers that can take the wool off 200 sheep in a day.  By contrast, we decided to take it slow and easy, hoping that shearer Beth and assistants John and Marilyn — as well as all the sheep — would escape injury and there would be 13 bags full at the end of the afternoon.  We achieved that objective.  Each adult sheep received a worming shot, had its feet trimmed, and was relieved of a heavy fleece.

Who will be next for a haircut?
Who will be next for a haircut?



Mama will not look the same without her wool.
Mama will not look the same without her wool.

The yearling mothers had very young lambs, just a week or two old.   So we decided to “mother up” the young moms and their babies after shearing.  Here John is holding the lamb so that we can reunite mother and baby as soon as she is shorn.

For a few weeks, the sheep will look like scrawny goats.  But soon they will begin to grow the next lovely fleece.

Raven is complaining: "I feel naked!"
Raven is complaining: “I feel naked!”


Lactation specialists

As of this morning, five of the six yearling ewes have given birth.  Each had a single lamb, 3 girls and 2 boys, ranging in weight from 7 lb 4 oz to 9 lb.  The births have been easy enough, but the drama increases exponentially when you have first time mothers.

Number 14 was the most challenging.  He arrived in the wee hours Saturday morning, discovered by John when he went out to feed at 8:00.  He was standing in the midst of a swarm of sheep rushing for their breakfast–including his mother.  He was dry, implying he had been born at least 5 hours earlier.  It wasn’t too hard to get mother and son into the lambing pen.  He weighed 7 lb 4 oz–dinky but oh so cute. Since he was up and dry, we assumed that he had been fed, and off we went to do our chores and errands.  A few hours later I looked in.  The lamb was sleeping in the exact place where I last saw him.  UH oh.  A weak lamb just sleeps and sleeps, and if you don’t help them, they starve.

We decided to trim mama’s copious wool “curtain” that hung over the access to her udder.  During this trimming process [John holding the ewe, Marilyn wielding the shears], we got the lamb and tried to persuade him to feed off the exposed teats.  It was not going to happen.  Even prying his mouth open and literally stuffing the teat into it did not result in an eager sucking response.

Worried now, we decided to milk the mother by hand and try to feed the lamb using a bottle.  There was plenty of yellow colostrum.  Little mister 14 adapted to the artificial nipple in seconds, latched on and sucked with great enthusiasm till every drop was in his belly.  But when we tried to encourage him to reach in under his mama, nothing happened.  He’s sleepy, having just been fed, let’s try later.

Later came with the same result.  We milked mother by hand and fed it to the lamb by bottle twice more before retiring for the night.  Next morning, lying in bed, Marilyn can’t sleep in.  She is thinking:  ‘it is Sunday.  I have this one day to get this lamb functioning independently.  Otherwise we will lose him.  Damn.  We have had such a good lambing year.  Gotta try–I’ll get our daughters to help.’ Once we were up we tried unsuccessfully to get the little fellow to connect the dots.  We milked mama and fed baby about 1/3 cup of milk.  He was very eager and friendly toward our legs, having learned that our legs are the source of his food.

The family was planning to come for lunch.  Marilyn asked Susan and Tracy to bring farm clothes so they could help with the latest lamb.  Suz, on her knees in the soggy straw of the lambing pen, tried in vain to connect lamb and mother.  Half and hour later, with three of us in the stall, Suz held the mother, Marilyn squirted milk out of the teat, and Tracy got the lamb to suck on her finger and then quickly slipped finger out and teat in and suddenly it was happening!  He fed for a full minute!  So now we have a lamb who has fed from his mother, but only while she was sitting in the most unseemly position, on her behind with legs splayed out and the lamb between them.  This is not the way things are done in nature.  But the full belly made him sleepy again, so off we went to have lunch, feeling ‘sort of’ good about our success.

Lamb number 14 finally latches on
Lamb number 14 finally latches on

After lunch, another session.  After half an hour of patient instruction, we finally got him to latch on in the “normal” way–tucking his head under his mother’s belly and reaching up for the teat.  But once he released the teat, he seemed to have no idea how to get back there.  Just wandered around near his mama’s nose.  Before Tracy left we decided to give him his selenium injection, because he was quivering even while he slept, which could be related to weak muscles that are caused by the lack of selenium in our soil.

At 9 pm, Marilyn gave him a little nudge so that he was standing right next to his mother, facing the rear.  In this position, mama turned around and pushed his little behind and bingo!  Under he went. Now there was hope that it would not take a lot of fiddling around to get him to feed, just a little prod.  At 11, John and Marilyn stepped into the barn for one last check and just as John arrived to watch, little Mister 14, all by himself, latched on for a feed.

Another fine success for the Harrison/Nelsen lactation team!  Next time, we will not make assumptions about whether a lamb is feeding.  We will verify, by gosh.

Update as of April 10:  he and his mother are out on the pasture and doing fine.  Here he is:

He's worth it, don't you think?
He’s worth it, don’t you think?




Teen parent surprise

Last night after dinner John said, “I have to go check the barn, the sheep sound different”.  Bud had just gone out a few minutes before, barking madly at the  yips and screams of coyotes in the valley.  This always makes us nervous.

A minute later he returned:  it’s a lamb!  Uh oh, my theory that Romney sheep are slow to mature and don’t get pregnant in the first year has been blown.  And we have SIX of these adolescent ewes, all born last year in February and March.  We could end up with a lot more lambs….

So a little ewe lamb, 71/2 pounds soaking wet, was born to ewe number 1313 [the thirteenth lamb born in 2013].  The birth happened right outside the lambing pen, which was good, but in a very muddy spot, which was not so good.  Mama was attentive to all the cleaning required, which is extensive when your only rag is your tongue.  However she was not going to tolerate the lamb going under her to find the teat.  Perhaps it was because the afterbirth had not been delivered, perhaps the mother’s udder was tender as it filled.  With experienced mothers, it is best to just leave them to it and trust that the lamb’s instinct will win out.  But not so much with first-time moms.  We had not trimmed away the belly wool from our yearlings since we didn’t think they were pregnant.  So John rolled mom over and I got the shears and cut away lots of wool, and we plugged the lamb in.  She eagerly took the colostrum.  Went back an hour later and restrained mom so baby could eat some more.  At this point it was 11:15 and we went to bed.

Ewe 1313 and her ewe lamb
Ewe 1313 and her ewe lamb

This morning, mother and baby seem fine.  The baby’s little stomach looks full and John saw her feeding, though mother is still a bit skittish.  Now the daily lamb watch resumes.



What a day–half done

Marilyn’s account of Feb 27
We had planned that I would come home from work during the noon hour, take John to a medical appointment that requires someone to drive you home.  I would return to work for a few hours until John summoned me to take him home.
But at the last flock check just before I arrived, John was shocked: Roberta was in the stall, on her back, legs flailing. He called me to tell me she was in labor. He would have to drive himself to the clinic, I would tend to Roberta, then arrive at the clinic by 4:00 to pick him up. We could deal with his car later.
When I first glimpsed Roberta, it looked as if she were having convulsions.  She was FLAT on her back, hind legs extended like sticks. You NEVER see sheep on their backs. Their inflexible spine just doesn’t allow it. But there she was. I ran for the house, clothes and shoes flying as I switched to farm gear. Grabbed a bucket and towels and a gallon jug of propylene glycol which is used to treat pregnancy toxemia.
In the stall, I could see little hooves and part of a nose.   I tugged on the hooves and two legs easily pulled out.  I followed the nose up and around to grasp the head and began to pull.  Roberta had a big contraction.  Before John was out the driveway, I was laying a lamb next to Roberta’s head.  She licked it frantically.  Having dealt with that, I could pause and evaluate Roberta’s situation.  It seemed the stall is not completely level, and somehow she had laid on her side with her legs pointing slightly uphill.  I tried to roll her up in the direction her feet pointed [her right side], but it seemed impossible–very heavy pull downhill.  I wondered, would it help if I just rolled her over onto her left side?  I tried it and over she went.  In seconds she was on her feet, happily licking that huge, strong lamb who was already on his feet.  Suddenly she looked just fine, no longer on the verge of death.

But she was laboring again.  Once again there were feet and a nose, and again I pulled when she pushed.  Another fine lamb, but it was limp.  The cord must have been pinched during those long minutes on her back.  I cleared the airway, patted the chest in a version of lamb CPR, swung the lamb by its hind legs, but all to no avail. Roberta tried too, licking her for a long time. She could not be revived.  We are so happy that Roberta is OK and that she has a fine strong lamb.  So that is how our afternoon began.  In the photo you can see Roberta licking her second lamb.



Sigh of relief.  I went inside and made some toast for lunch.  Then I returned to the barn, dealt with the stillborn lamb, dipped the navel, weighed the big boy –14 lbs! — and took Roberta into the lambing pen.  That is when I noticed Melissa standing around, looking preoccupied, not chewing her cud.  I watched her back hunch with a big contraction.  Soon I would need to depart for Beaverton to pick John up.  Next time I looked Melissa had gone into the main stall.  I closed the gate to keep her there and keep the other sheep out and departed.

Two hours later, we are back.  John has had a small snack and seems fully recovered from the fasting and the anesthetic they gave him.  Melissa has a huge water balloon protruding.  We strategize:  divide the big stall into two smaller ones, and use one for the “nursery” which suddenly has six lambs and three ewes, soon to be nine lambs and five ewes.  We will add chicken wire to the gate so lambs don’t accidentally end up out in the pasture without their mothers, then we will build the dividing wall, and meanwhile we will monitor Melissa and put her in the lambing pen when the time is right.  Up to the garden shed to find the chicken wire.  To the barn to cut it into lengths.  Zip ties to attach it to the gate.  A quick peek into the main stall:  oh look, Melissa has given birth to a lamb!  They look fine, we will deal with them when the fence work is done.

John cleans out the pen and we add fresh straw.  Melissa happily follows her lamb into the pen.  We begin moving fence panels into the main stall so we can construct the dividing wall.  Meanwhile Melissa lies down and makes a sound.  Next time I look there is a big lamb, still wrapped in its amniotic sac, lying behind her.  Clear his mouth, drag him up to his mom’s nose, and get out of there so she can bond with him and keep licking both her lambs.  The photo shows Melissa laboring.


Back to the stall remodeling, then dinner and a little break.  I sit in my chair with the heating pad–my back is still not fully recovered from a fall in the stall a month ago.  Around 10:00 we check the barn.  Another ewe, ear tag 1105, is pawing the ground in the corral.  We watch her contort with strong contractions, but there is no outward evidence of lambs as of 11:15.  We enclose her in the main stall and go to bed.  zzzzzz  At 4:00 a.m. I go over to check on her.  Twins!  Looks like the second one has just been born and mom is very busy licking.  Back to bed, they are safe inside the stall for now.  6:00 a.m. and it’s time to get up.  The lambing pens are occupied and we have another set of twins.   John says, “let’s plan this.”  Before we shower we are in the barn, dipping navels and weighing, gently releasing Roberta and her day-old lamb so that Betsy and her twins can move into the special pen.  Finally we can open the main stall for the rest of the flock and feed them their breakfast!   So that is six deliveries in 16 hours.  Nothing at all compared to the huge sheep operations you see in the valley or in Australia and New Zealand.  But something special for Wetland Wool.


Ruth and her girls.

When I started this blog post, “half done” meant that half the ewes have lambed.  But because of Miss 1105 [Is it Betsy?  I can’t remember] we are at 60%, 6 of 10 ewes have had their lambs.