Friday, March 25, 2011

Baby UG

Ever made a mistake that you just couldn’t escape? A momentary lapse in judgment can haunt one for a LONG time.

That is the case with Baby UG.

Last fall, it seemed like a good idea to turn the yearling ewes in with the ram. I mean, they were big, beautiful girls, they seemed ready….the ram was more than willing to take on the task. They all got bred right away. Everything seemed to work just right.

Until delivery time.

Out of the four yearling ewes, we got just one live lamb. Baby UG.

First one of the yearlings got trampled by the rest of the flock. She and any unborn lambs died. (I already chronicled this one)

The next yearling went into labor that just STOPPED. In an attempt to save her, we went in after the babies. We lost the lambs, but did save the ewe. (Chronicled this one, too)

While we were waiting, and waiting and waiting for the last two ewes to lamb, we got very low on hay. As in, we had about 3 bales left…low on hay. We set off to Fort Defiance to get hay from some fellow market vendors. Getting hay always includes a cup of coffee and a little solving of the world’s problems, so we were gone for a while.

Upon arriving at home, I could hear sheep screams from the barn as I got out to unlock the gate. When we got to the barn, Mother-to-be was screaming bloody-murder. Just screaming. When I finally got her to turn so I could check things out, everything looked in order. She was still screaming. I assisted the birth of a relatively good-sized lamb, and figured she would “get with the program” and mother-on with it. Nope, still screaming. Well, she tried to mother-on, but then she’d stop and scream. Her behavior was indicative of labor, so I figured there must be “someone else” up in the birth canal. Hmm, felt around…no, one baby…that’s all. BUMMER! We jugged them and went off to lunch.

After lunch, she was STILL screaming. Now, I don’t mean baaing loudly…I mean SCREAMING! It was nerve wracking! ….and LOUD! We did another internal exam in case I missed it the first time. No, there was just the one baby. He seemed fine, less than stellar, but fine. On closer examination, he proved to be quite possibly the ugliest lamb I have ever seen. It’s partly because he is a newborn and tiny in comparison to the “big boys” down there. (the big boys are pushing 90 pounds at just about 3 months old)

“Mother UG” screamed for four hours after Baby UG’s arrival. She then got down to the business of being a sheep. That business would be eating, caring for baby, eating, eating…..

The following day, the last yearling began to labor. FINALLY! But, something was wrong. Oh, WHY did we decide to breed the yearlings? This time the lamb was HUGE. I mean HUGE! In addition to the size, it was mis-presented. I got the presentation mess straightened out, but the size…. I worked, Tom worked…the ewe….well, she finally gave out and went down. It was hard! I got the front feet and head out, but couldn’t get the rest out. Tom and I switched places, and he got the lamb out on the ground. She was gigantic! Oh, my….she was actually alive! She didn’t have “much zip” though. The ewe was totally traumatized, but would survive. We worked with the lamb, only to find that her front leg was somewhat deformed. Probably from being so BIG, the foot was curled under. We weighed her….16.5 POUNDS! Lambs are usually about 8 to 10 pounds. Unfortunately, she didn’t have much of a sucking reflex, so her survival was in doubt from the beginning. The following morning she did indeed die. BUMMER!

But, Baby UG was still chugging along. His mother had lessened her screaming….somewhat. We tagged UG and let the two of them out. It was time to clean up from lambing, and move on to the next season on the farm.

“Mother UG” went mental. She began screaming again. This was getting SO old!

Baby UG seemed to understand how to be a sheep. He followed her along, checking out the big, big world on the way. He managed to stay out of the way of the big boys, and got up in the hay feeder to sleep while the others were outside. When Mother couldn’t find him, she would scream. When she did find him, she would scream. AAAAH!

He was so tiny; he got stuck behind the barn door.
As sheep are notoriously stupid, neither one of them could figure out where he was, nor how to get him out. Then we had a thunderstorm, he curled up next to the stocktank (outside) and waited out the storm. His mother nearly lost her voice with worry. The next thunderstorm, he got left outside and was soaking wet and shivery. This time, I locked him and his mother in a stall with a heat lamp. I just couldn’t take him getting “lost” anymore!

Now, finally, they seem to have adjusted to barn life. FINALLY!

But, every time I see Baby UG, I think …..

Don’t breed the yearling ewes!

Out of the four yearlings….we got Baby UG. That’s it. Very disappointing! We will take the two yearlings without lambs to the stockyard soon. At least the prices for cull ewes are running pretty high right now, so it won’t be a total loss. Baby UG should grow out well. As a single, his gain rate should be excellent.

But, he will be in the last group to go to the processor’s. He will be around ‘til November. So, we will be reminded of our bad decision until then. And, to that, all I can say is….

Oh, UG!


  1. Oh my Barbara - you seem to have so many problems with your girls! I breed Katahdins and my husband is always telling me to check on the girls all the time. God gave them the ability to deliver and take care of their lambs. I watch, and intervene when needed. Thankfully, that has only happened twice on my little farm. I bred my yearlings to a smaller ram last year and this year - thankfully that helped so we didn't have any large lambs stuck in the birth canal. I had that happen last year and learned my lesson. My main ram is huge and I only breed him to my seasoned girls. Best of luck with the lambing season this year and God Bless. Your blog is so insightful!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting!
      Fortunately, the dismal failures are dramatically outnumbered by successes. But, they don't make for good stories. ;)
      Best wishes for a safe, successful lambing season!