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.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Chickie Lambs....

New born grey ram

New born black ram

A little late getting these posted, but Chickie lambed on Wednesday. Two more ewes to go, anytime, I expect. Chickie is a first time mom, the only first-timer this year. She had been acting fishy (a lambing technical term...) Tuesday evening, but at mid-night--not necessarily MID-night, but in the middle of the night--barn checks she was just hanging out, chewing cud. She wasn't due until Sunday so I felt we still had time.

Grey ram--three days old

At feeding Wednesday morning, she was wouldn't come down, and stayed up in the main barn. At that point, I hadn't a clue when she would actually lamb, but I knew she needed to be crutched (wool trimmed away from rear and udder) before I headed off to work--just in case. So back to the house for scissors, and a quick barber job on her. I went ahead and got ready for work, knowing that many in this family line will 'think about it' for two days or more ahead of time. Unless active labor is evident, I couldn't justify staying home from work, although it's the hardest thing to leave knowing they could lamb anytime.

Hi there, cutie!

After I got ready for work, I went out back to do another quick visual check of the situation before I left. Chickie was way out in the pasture, being tailed by a couple of the juvenile delinquent yearlings. I continued to watch, and Chickie was going into the corner by the pond, and it looked like she was digging. About then she turned and I thought I saw a water bag hanging down. Back in the house I went, quickly changed clothes, gathered supplies, and called my co-worker to tell her I was going to be late, hopefully not too late though. If she was presenting a water bag, it shouldn't be more than a half hour to an hour before things were done.

So out to the field I went. I was very concerned with her being out trying to lamb near the pond with the young ewes hassling her. When I got out there, I wasn't very amused to see that the 'water bag' was actually a large leaf dangling from a strategic area. For crying out loud.... I knew I couldn't leave her there, and she wasn't about to let me near her (especially after the whole haircut ordeal earlier). Luckily she still responded with the rest when I called them in. I was able to get her into the Shetland pen and then into a stall. I decided I'd wait two hours and if she hadn't went into active labor by then, I'd head on to work. The other sheep were ushered out of the Shetland pen, and I let Chickie loose in there to 'work on things'. She definitely wanted me out of there.

Black ram--three days old

Back into the house, for some coffee and breakfast. When I went out to check her about a half hour later, she really did have water bags showing. Hurrah,now things are really happening. I went back in the house, and busied myself with this and that. I spied on her from afar. Then I went back for a closer look and saw two hooves presented, and everything looking good. Each time I bothered her, she seemed to cease labor, so I 'went away' again (around the corner). About then she lay down and did some squalling with some serious contractions. I headed back up there as the baby slipped out. Chickie was standing with her head in the corner, oblivious to what had happened. I'm sure she was like--whew! I quickly wiped the babies nose and about then Chickie turned around, 'oh hey! what's this?' and her mothering instincts kicked in. As she worked on her little grey son, I worked at bringing some panels up to build a roomy lambing jug for them. I pretty much thought she would single, as first timers often do. In less than ten minutes (the time it took to go and get a couple of panels), she had another lamb. This little guy must have been on the fast track out, because one minute there was no indication of a second lamb and the next there he was. She had them between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m.

Three days old and he thinks he is a big boy now!

Chickie was an excellent first time mother, and showed equal concern for her tiny sons. At first I was convinced that the little black lamb was an ewe. I hate to interfere too much in those first critical moments, so that mother and lambs bond, so I only checked for horn buds when I swiped his nose. There were none. I finally discovered the truth when I sprayed their navels.

Black ram--three days old

After giving both lambs a bit of nutri drench, checking Chickie to make sure she had milk and watching both lambs finally nurse, I headed off to work. Both lambs were very small, but especially the little black one.

When I got home the black one was pretty lethargic--I had never seen a lamb 'sleep' so deeply as he was, and every time I would get him up, he would soon lay back down and sleep. His tummy felt full and his mouth warm so it appeared he was eating. I tried to console myself that there are going to be losses at times, but it didn't make me feel any better.

Finally I decided to give him another dose of nutri drench to see if that helped. In the meantime the little grey ram had been hopping around in a more typical new born fashion. Once I dosed the black ram, the little grey one lay down and just sacked out---totally gone to the world. The little black ram started playing around normally and when that sugar hit his system went into overdrive! Poor guy. Evidently the twins were just on different play cycles and were fine.

However I do believe that these guys are slightly preemie. They continue to sleep much more deeply and more often than the other lambs did, but they also get up and run and hop around and play. They seem less developed with regards to horns and size. Chickie was about five days early, but with her excellent mothering the little beasties are thriving.

Twin rams

With twin ram lambs, there goes my last hope of an ewe lamb out of Jeffery for this year. He has presented me with three little boys! The last two ewe's to lamb were bred to Jackdaw. I had also hoped for spots from Chickie as her dam has produced spots (Jackdaw is her son) and her sire was a black smirslet/sokket. However, I'm happy the little tykes are here safely and they sure are cute little buggers.

Chickie the fierce mother and her little boys


Kathy said...

Good for Chickie! I do hope both boys continue to grow rapidly, Tammy. They look great from the photos.
You're not the only one I've heard of this year with small-ish lambs...John and Tina had a little one in a set of twins who is making it up rapidly.
As the mother of a premie - don't count them out. :) They can grow, catch-up, and leave everyone in the dust when they take off on their own.

Mim said...

Great looking lambs! I used a black ram last fall for the first time so I'm looking forward to see what I get this lambing season. Had more lambs yesterday and have 6 rams and 2 ewes now. Hope that trend does not continue.

Vicki Lane said...

Just love seeing these little guys!

AJ-OAKS said...

Wow, talk about an intense post! Was holding my breath as I read. So very happy the boys are doing great and that Chickie is a good mama. Those boys are sooooo adorable.

Are you going to keep them?

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I've had 11 goat kids born on our farm and yet to see one come into this world. Haven't even seen one wet, Mama's already have them dried off. I guess that is good, as in no problems, but I'd still like to witness a birth. In 2010, I've gotten 4 boys and 2 girls, but in 2009, I had more girls so...

You babies look great. Names?

Nancy K. said...

Beautiful, healthy looking ram lambs, Tammy. I'd love to get a grey out of Alice this year. I miss having any grey fleece in my flock!

Shula said...

They both look great. My first time mom had twin ram lambs that were on the small side this year as well, 5lbs and 4 1/2lbs which I consider on the small side. That being said both were up, feeding and running around quickly. Congrats on your boys and I hope the rest of your lambing goes well.

Roses and Lilacs said...

I well remember the barn checks every two hours thru the night. Horses seem to always foal at night. I don't miss the worry or the sleepless nights much but I do miss those foals playing outside.

Louise said...

They're adorable, especially the little grey lamb, with the lion mane of white. I'm glad that Chickie is being a good mother, and that you got to see the birth.

Brenda (Prairie Daisy Handspun) said...

Congratulations! So many cute lambs!! We've finished lambing for this year. Angus did his job well, and didn't miss anybody! :)

Kim said...

Congrats on more healthy lambs. That black ram lamb is gorgeous! :)

Tammy said...

Kathy, they are growing and robust, although still smaller than the others.
Mim--with lambing done now, it turned out to be a ram year--6 rams to 2 ewes! I used two black based rams and got 6 black (or grey) and two musket lambs.
Thanks Vicki,they are so cute, it's hard to get any work done.
AJ--thanks! They will most likely go to fiber homes as wether (castrated) pets.
Joanna, Some years I manage to get 'messed up' in every birth, and others I only see nice dry lambs. After all these years of lambing, finding them up, healthy and dry is what I prefer, to the the worry and fretting that all is going well of being there.
Nancy, I was hoping for a nice grey ewe lamb as a keeper, but got a musket instead. She is a nice thing though.
Shula, I didn't weigh them, but just judging them against the other lambs, they seemed small and a little preemie.
Thanks Louise, I love how the markings make them look so cute.
Marnie, Never had any foals but I can imagine the worry involved!
Brenda, glad to hear Angus did well, he gave you quite a variety too!
Kim, the little black ram is nicely put together, but I'm sure he'll end up a wether pet.