The first two lambs dropped in late January and we’re off! Once one ewe starts labor, the rest get the chemical signal and domino into action. The first lambing gave us a week to test our lambing setup and all has gone quite smoothly, even through massive rains with heavy flooding. Luckily the barn stays dry, and with a little ditch digging to redirect surface water runoff, we’ve kept the lambing stalls clean and ready. I was psyching myself out every evening at feeding, looking at swollen bottoms and thinking it was happening! Of course, the ewes will not be rushed, and they are still taking their time.
In mid February, we were at 7 lambs (four ewe mamas), with the most sheep on the land ever. Our stall systems are fully adapted to the numbers, and we’re quickly moving animals around to accommodate the new youngsters. Fresh straw works, but it’s not my first choice for lambing, as ewes eat the stuff as roughage, especially when they are hungry milk producers. I’ve switched to pine shavings and now retain enough bedding to keep things dry. Muddy stalls will lead to infection, illness, and parasite nightmares in your animals. Idealy they are out on pasture as much as possible, but when we get two weeks of flooding, everyone remains stuck in the barn, which means extra bedding and hay.
Our biggest challenge has been the weather, with major flooding in the valley and our hill farm catching a deluge of runoff, we’re thankful for our hydro catchment systems and all the good use we’re putting that water to. The grass is also green and lush, which will be great pasture for the youngsters once the rain lets up. And indeed, by early March, the sun is out again and we’re putting the flock back outside! With another addition, bringing us to 8 lambs. Even with good weather, a new born lamb should stay in a few days with mom to bond. Luckily, a mother ewe is less interested in being part of the herd while she’s nursing a new born. It’s one of the few times you can separate a sheep from the flock without stress.
Back in the field, these amazing animals are thriving on the fresh green grass. It’s still a few weeks away from Spring on the calendar, but in sheep time, it’s been spring all winter, as the grass has kept on growing. Now with more sun and warmer weather on the way, our pastures are exploding with new lush life. Both the animals and plants are revving up reproduction. Flowers have begun pushing up through the mud and little lambs frolic across the landscape. So much gratitude for new life, warm sun, and the soft touch of new growth.