Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Tale of Two Sisters

Suzy, Melody, & Annalea (Rocky in background)

Once upon a time there were two sisters, they were twins and they were Merino (mostly) sheep. These two girls were very, very attached to one another and also to their mother. As they got older and were separated for a brief time from their mom they became even more dependent on each other. Now these girls were a bit odd, and had nervous personalities. Suzy was friendly and loved cookies, but her sister Melody (named for her warbling voice) didn't want people to be anywhere near her. So they became 'the tame one' and the 'wild one'. That is until one day when they were sorted off into the barn by themselves but still together. Then the 'tame one' went nuts and jumped three fences, and mowed down a gate (and almost a shepherd) to get back to the main flock. Now they are both just called A Little Odd.

Now these girls are inbred a bit, so maybe that accounts for their different-ness, or maybe not. Maybe they just hear a different drummer.

So the sisters lived with the ram for awhile and were scheduled to have their babies within a day or so of each other. Suzy lambed in the middle of the night, on her due date. The shepherd didn't see the delivery but she found the lamb almost dry and on her feet. It was a lovely little bright white ewe lamb. After awhile Suzy was moved to the lambing jug to bond with her youngster. It took awhile to convince her to follow the confiscated lamb, but she did--after all she was the 'tame one'.

Two days later, Melody still hadn't had her lambs, even though the shepherd checked her often. The shepherd tried to let Suzy into a bigger stall, but Suzy tried to jump out, so she was locked back in the tall stall. Then in the middle of the day on a Saturday, there was wild baa-ing and maa-ing coming from the flock, so the shepherd rushed to see what was wrong. All the sheep took advantage of the shepherd to run around and scream about how hungry they were. It took the shepherd awhile to sort every one out and see what the problem was. She soon discovered that Melody was running around, baa-ing her head off, with a mob of rotten Shetland teenagers adding to her distress. A quick trip to the barn to get some hay, and calling and calling, finally got Melody in the lot--along with the Shetland mom, Blackberry and her baby, who Melody seemed quite distracted by.

After they were all in the lot and nibbling hay, the shepherd discovered that Melody was in the middle of lambing and there was already a nose and a foot sticking out. The shepherd was deeply troubled herself, and didn't know if she would ever get Melody in the barn, since she was so quick to dash off. Luckily a can of grain scattered on the ground brought the mob in, well, a mob, so that in the confusion the shepherd was able to grab Melody and get a halter on her, then drag and/or push her to the barn where she was locked into a large area to finish birthing.

Sad to say, it didn't seem that Melody was even doing much pushing or certainly not concentrating on what was happening. In her defense it was her first time lambing, but still.....

The shepherd headed to the house to find some latex gloves and to give the soon-to-be-mom time to calm down and get serious. There was some concern, since it appeared one hoof was back. The shepherd figured she would have to assist in some manner. However on her way back to the barn, she could see Melody was laying down and there was a very yellow blob behind her. The shepherd quickly went to the barn, where Melody was still lying down, staring straight ahead, oblivious to what had happened. The shepherd cleared the nostrils on the blob and it moved. It was very, very yellow, which the shepherd had been told meant that the baby had spent a good deal of time in the birth canal. She had seen this more often on the second of twins than on a first. This concerned her enough, that later she went out into the field to make sure no little lamb had been splatted on the ground and abandoned. The shepherd was glad she was around when Melody lambed as she wonders what might have happened.

Meanwhile, the lamb started sneezing and bleating and finally new mom perked up and looked at what was making the noise. From there it was touch and go. Mom was interested and wanted to lick the slimy thing, but she didn't like it wobbling towards her---two steps forward, two back. The shepherd stood way back and let them work their magic. Things progressed nicely, except new mom wouldn't settle long enough to let the baby nurse---no way was it touching her! The shepherd had to leave for a little while, so while she tries to stay out of things as much as possible, she made the decision to halter the new mom and let the determined little lamb eat. This went very smoothly and once contact was made, new mom got the idea and settled down quite a bit.

Soon the new pair were put in a stall next to the twin sister and her lamb. Noses were touched and murmurings were heard. The twin sisters had both lambed--single ewe lambs!

By and by the sisters were turned out to take their new lambs into the big wide sheep-filled world. After a little confusion, cajolery, and some shoving, both new moms were out of the stalls and headed in the right direction. At which point they dashed away side-by-side, with nary a look back. The shepherd was left to console two rather surprised and distraught little girls.
Eventually, a rather gradual realization overcame the twins and they started looking for 'something'. Was it hay they needed? Their mom? What was it? Hmmm..... Soon first lamb, who was more active than not very old lamb, took off running. The wheels were turning faster in the twin new-moms minds.... Ah--hah!! Yes....maybe something small and fluffy and white is what I'm looking for!

Finally everyone was reunited, new-moms got it figured out and babies began the joy of testing their new found freedom in the Big Sheep World. The shepherd sighed, then she muttered, "little girls, its a good thing you are feisty because you have your work cut out for you with the Moms you got!"

The shepherd thinks that the new girls will function as twins and that eventually they will share freely between their moms! But the shepherd knows that everyday is a new day and one never knows for sure what might happen.

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