Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Turn Out the Lights

Turn out the lights
The party’s over
They say that all good things must come to an end
Call it a night
The party’s over
And tomorrow starts the same old thing again.
                                                                Willie Nelson

time to put the heatlamps in storage
and go on to other things
Well, it’s done for another season. 

Just like that…we’ve reached the end of lambing season. It was short and slightly intense, but we can consider it a success.

We ended up with 24 live lambs this year.  In some ways, that seems like far too few. (I would like to have LOTS of something...it would be nice to be impressive for once) But, when working in the barn, those “few” lambs and their mothers seem to take up every square inch of the place.  It’s a wild place down there with the babies running and jumping and getting in the way.

With the exception of “Moose”, the single lamb born Dec. 30, 2013, all the lambs were born in a one week window of time…10 being born in a 30 hour stretch.

…and here are the stats.

200% birthrate! 
3 sets of triplets
2 single births
15 ram lambs
9 ewe lambs
1 bottle baby
1 stillborn
Largest AND Smallest of season in same family—one set of triplets – 14.8#, 6.5# 
                         the third triplet was  10.4# (POOR mama sheep!)
Least amount of shepherd assists – 2
Best weight at 2 weeks – 30#
Trips to the barn – lost count

While I love lambs and lambing season is an exciting time, I’m also happy to see it end.  That going to the barn in the middle of the night is hard…real hard.  Maybe I’m getting old, maybe I’m getting soft, but it feels real good to sleep straight through the night, snuggled under the covers of our own bed.

The population explosion in the barn was perfectly timed.  Today, we are under a Winter Storm Warning with the current accumulation prediction being 6 to 10 inches (it has increased each time I’ve checked the forecast). Wednesday and Thursday we are in for frigid temperatures and lots of wind as the Polar Vortex makes a return visit.  So, it’s a very good thing that all the babies have arrived and are in good health.
robust lambs and good moms will come through the cold with no problems
Today, we will pull the jug pens apart and take one gate off the hinges to make a little more room for the ewes to lounge and ruminate and the lambs to run and play.  It looks like they’re all going to be stuck in the barn for a while. Any snow we do get will be here for a while judging by the predicted temperatures.
takin' it easy

Once the jug pens are dis-assembled, the heatlamps put away, all the lambing towels washed and dried and the vet box cleaned and organized...we will move on to other things. (snow removal comes to mind)  Yes, we will leave a heatlamp or two in the barn for the upcoming frigid nights, just in case.

It’s time to get the greenhouses neat and tidy and ready for the growing season.  In just a couple weeks, we will be starting the seeds for early season transplants. Any work with the sheep will be more maintenance and healthcare and watching "el lambo cross".  I observed the first halting attempts at the racing season yesterday.  Check this out!

the last set of triplets
30+ pounds and twelve legs
Poor mama sheep!

Yes, it’s always a bit of a let-down when lambing is done, but it’s always encouraging to see how fast those little guys grow!  

And, there’s something to be said for the “same old thing”.



  1. So, Barbara, my 5 year old wants a bottle lamb to show at the fair. I know NOTHING about this. What do we need? A fence? Room in a barn/shed? How much? Like I said, I know NOTHING!

    1. First let me say...Oh My Gosh, I bet that's cute. Little show guy and his little lamb. My heart is melting…
      Sorry, back to the question at hand.
      I'm gonna have to guess on showing a bottle lamb. These are little, bitty lambs?
      Around here the lambs are pretty good-sized when shown. My youngest daughter showed lambs for a while and they were upwards of 100 pounds, and she was a teenager, so our experience with the show world may not be relevant to y’all.
      However, lambs (particularly those for show) don’t need a whole lot of room. We had a little stall in the shed and a small dry lot for Amanda’s lambs. They need to be protected from the elements to some extent. The dry lot was just a couple of t-posts and some cattle panels all wired together. (it was about 10 x 10 for 3 or 4 lambs) Something like a dog pen would work as long as there was some sort of shelter.
      Lambs do better with a buddy. So, we always got two at a time. …at least. (lol)
      Amanda was completely in charge of that project. She walked them at least once a day and practiced bracing them and handled them on a regular basis. They were fed a special show lamb ration that allowed for quick(er) growth rates. They were also clipped out just before the show(s).
      I know that Nicole (Kansas Farm Mom) has young boys that show. Maybe she could help you more with the particulars for the younger crowd.
      I hope I helped you somehow. If he does show, I truly hope you'll post pictures. Kids in the show ring just make me smile. It's a lot of hard work, and I really don't get into the whole competition thing, but they do seem to learn a lot and I know that Amanda loved absolutely every minute of it.

  2. Wonderful photograph with the triplets Barbara. Glad it is all done for another year and before that forecast bad weather too.