Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Walkabout 1-19

This week has had moments of total adrenaline rushes countered by moments of complete and utter nothingness. It’s been a week of very little sleep, lots of trips to the barn and far too much coffee. My memory is shot, all my coveralls are filthy and I’m pretty sure I need to wash my face. Lambing season has hit the peak of intensity in the past few days.  Nothing like some farms which boast a lambing every hour for a week or so…

just a skiff of snow 
But, since last week’s walkabout, 
22 lambs have arrived here on the hill.
Most of them came into this world with little or no emergency assistance from the shepherds. That’s the way we like it, but, we’re not quite done yet. If you missed my posts from earlier in the week, you can read them here... and here.

newborn triplets under the glow of the heatlamp

As of right now, there are three, yes, THREE sets of triplets. That’s the most we’ve ever had in a single season.  It looks like each ewe will be able to provide for her little family without any help from us. (except for the case of my bottle baby—who is thriving, thank you very much) The fact that the ewes won’t need assistance is pretty amazing, considering sheep only have two teats.
the oldest triplets
also known as "the trio of trouble"

Friday night, the Boss ended up getting drafted into the whole going to the barn in the middle of the night thing as I worried over one ewe.  After watching her labor futilely for over a half an hour with a second lamb, I woke him up to help me. (the first one was up, dry, had eaten and was roaming around the barn) Of course, by the time we returned to the barn, #2 of 3 was on the ground and looking around.  #3 followed quickly. We cleaned them up, tucked the whole family in a jug and the Boss went back to bed. I felt more than a little bad for disturbing his sleep for nothing.  Although, he did admit the snow in the bright January moonlight was a beautiful sight.

Later that night (early, early morning) old ewe seemed to be having a hard time, so I kept a close watch in order to know if I should assist. And, assist I did. At three o’clock in the morning, I found myself lying on the barn floor, helping her deliver twin ram lambs.  Big, hearty fellas.  As we cleaned them up, it became obvious that one had very little (if any) strength in his back legs.  Meaning…he couldn’t stand.  If a sheep can’t stand, (particularly a lamb) it can’t eat. If it can’t eat, it will die.  I cleaned him up, held him up to his mother’s teat so he could drink the life sustaining colostrum, said a little prayer and went to the house.  I guess it’s a sad testimony to the smallness of my faith when I admit that I was surprised to see him standing up, nursing his mother when I returned to the barn a couple of hours later. But, I did indeed give thanks for the miracle.
Mom Sheep and babies snoozing after delivery

In the light of day, it is evident that his back leg is bowed outward at an awkward angle.  This is probably due to the crowding while inside the ewe and should correct itself in time. He seems to be healthy and hearty other than that. All in all (so far) it’s been a great lambing season. I’ll give you all the particulars next time.

With the exception of lambing in the sheep shed, the farm is somewhat boring in mid-Winter.  It’s too cold to do much outside and too early to get too many seeds started. It’s a good time to get a handle on office work, do a little extra writing and prepare for tax season.
the warmth of the backyard makes it nice for napping dogs (and cat)
but, napping makes it hard to get in the greenhouse!

But, in other farm news...

The hens have been escaping with some regularity.  It isn’t a mass exodus, it’s only one or two and it's not every day.  They are in search of something tender and green as the chicken yard is bare and frozen. (can’t say that I blame them at all) I took advantage of the escaping chickens to further educate Gus. He needs to learn not to hurt (read eat) the chickens but to guard and protect them.  He responded well to my commands and the hen was returned to the pen unharmed. Although she was heard regaling the rest of the flock with the story of the whole ordeal for quite some time afterward.Gus was feeling a bit enthusiastic about his success and got a little too close to the electric chicken fence with his nose.  His pathetic yelping could probably be heard for miles!

while they're not herding dogs, they do make chicken-catching easier

Unfortunately, it looks like we will need to re-plant a good deal in the hoophouses, as the Polar Vortex was not kind on its last visit and is set to return this week.  When I wrote about lettuce and freezing temperatures a few weeks ago...I did NOT write about lettuce and -3*! Did you read this? It's a sad and dismal sight and I'll spare you the photos.  But, it is the middle of Winter, so it’s not totally unexpected. The last of the seed orders have been placed and we’re waiting their arrival…and anticipating Spring. I'm anxiously watching that little count-down ticker in the sidebar!

It’s a cold and blustery day here on the hill.  The sheep and lambs are all hunkered down in the barn away from the frigid breezes. The woodstove beckons.  

Tess looks warm and comfortable. 

…and I hope you are too!

Happy Sunday!

Thanks for stopping by!  Please come back and visit again.


  1. Hello Barbara! I just found your blog last week by way of Pat at The Weaver of Grass. Let me tell you, the writers you admire have nothing on you! And how you manage to do it during lambing season is beyond me. I was up 28 hours straight tending the fire during the Polar Vortex intrusion into Maryland the other week. Writing is the last thing I could have done! So, you have another fan. And your pix add a lot. Who can resist them lambies!

    1. Hello Maureen! ...and welcome! Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's always interesting to hear from other folks (particularly ones with good things to say about
      28 hours...straight? Yikes! I hope you didn't sustain any damages. That cold snap was brutal. I'm so glad there were no lambs born during the cold. It could have proved disastrous.
      We are just about done with lambing out our little flock. A couple weeks of interrupted sleep is a fair price to pay for feeling certain I did my very best for all the babies. It's kind of surprising to me how much I can get written in a short bit of time.
      Your comments made my day. Thank you so much! I'll be visiting your blog soon...and I hope you'll visit again!

  2. As usual, I am just loving this Barbara. Lambing has barely started up here in the Yorkshire Dales. A few farmers lamb early but Swaledales don't start until late March, early April, so reading about yours is lovely.

    1. It's so good to hear from you, Pat! I didn't realize that lambing season was so late in the year in your part of the world. All our ewes should be finished by this evening (I think) We have a small flock this season, but it looks like it has been a good one. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. THREE sets of triplets- congratulations! I'm so glad they're all healthy. Thanks for taking the time to chronicle it all for those of us without animal husbandry duties! Hope you can (both) catch up on some rest soon.