I’m in the tunnel. You know the one I mean, the one where you are so engrossed, overwhelmed and logistically enclosed by what you are doing that life seems narrow but not small, confined but not constrained. I am full up with my life right now, which I summed up as well as possible in the title: Lambs, Rain, Papers, Lambs, Rain, Papers.
If there is life outside of this small but saturated universe, would it do my laundry? This is not a small thing to ask, given that the pants I am wearing into the barn could stand up by themselves, and whose smell could clear a room. I should save them for the next time I think I’ll have to stand in line and wait for something.
And so, today post is all about the farm. Although I have had an especially interesting week on campus (including a vigorous discussion in my University class yesterday about meat eating, and getting to see Jane Goodall speak on Monday, more inspiring than I can say), most of my waking hours alternate between grading papers and attending to lambs and ewes. And dealing with mud. And more mud. And then more lambs, and then more mud.
It has rained here relentlessly, although I should be accurate and mention that at the moment it is actually sleeting. We have had 2 gorgeous days in the last 2 weeks, but other than that it has been grey and cloudy at best. It doesn’t take long for this desert-bred woman to perceive dewy and moist as soggy and moldy after a few days, so I won’t pretend I’m happy about it. If I could stay inside reading good novels and eating bad food I suspect it would be much more fun, but I’m walking to the barn six or eight times a day, and slopping through the mud to fill the water buckets for my lactating ewes, whose lambs are too young to be out in a downpour.
Speaking of lambs, all the ewes have now finally had their lambs. Spot was the hold out, and she had triplets late last night. She was due to lamb around April 1st, but played an April Fool’s joke on us by not getting bred that round and waiting until the next go-round to have her lambs. This is her first set of triplets:
Regretably, she is suffering from the same problem as Rosebud (now cured) and Oreo (not cured, but only has a single lamb, thank heavens), in which her milk glands are blocked and she can’t give any milk from one side of her udder. I am already bottle feeding two of Spot’s lambs, the one standing is always fat with milk, so I think she is getting the lion’s share. (FYI, the analysis on the milk has yet to come back, but there are no symptoms of mastitis. We have had the best luck with a peppermint based udder cream called Dynamint, which seemed to turn Rosebud around. (Thank you Ann T!). Cabbage leaves and alternating hot and cold packs turned out to be logistically a tad challenging to do 3-4 times a day, given the ewes lack of interest in the project.)
Earlier I sat down in the larger pen with the older lambs to get some photos. Here’s a lamb discovering the concept of “the toe of Trisha’s boot.”
Here’s one of my favorite lambs: Lady G also had triplets, one black, one white and this one who is mostly white with a bit of freckling on the nose and a grey ear. He’s very bold and curious, but this afternoon he was mostly very sleepy.
The lamb summary is thus this: 17 lambs from 7 ewes, 4 sets of triplets (a first for the farm). One lamb is an orphan, his mother has completely rejected him, but he is doing well on a self-feeder. There will be at least 3 other lambs who need supplemental feeding, they are all taking milk from a bottle and are in various stages of learning to use a self-feeder. All the ewes are doing well, although not all their udders are. However, dear Solo had a ruptured pre-pubic tendon and probably wouldn’t have managed any live lambs if I hadn’t been lucky and gotten my sorry ass out of bed early enough, and if she wasn’t a hardy warrior-woman-sheep and a wonderful, dedicated mother. She and I have bonded over her difficulties, and I have to admit a special affection for her now. She should never be asked to lamb again though, so I am going to have to find a pet home for her. I don’t have a photo of her today, but I’ll post one soon. We are going through prodigious quantities of goat milk, and if it wasn’t for good friend Donna H with a goat dairy I’m not sure what we would do. There is powdered lamb milk replacer but I’ve never found that lambs do all that well on it.
In spite of the weather, there are other signs of spring besides lambs. A few of the bulbs have managed to put up with the alternating warm and then freezing/snowing/sleeting/raining weather and begun to bloom. These are the first flowers on the farm and they do my heart more good than I can say. There’s nothing like color when you’ve been starved for it for months. These flowers are tiny, you could walk by them and barely notice them, but I’m drinking them in like a thirsty beast in the desert.
Time to go feed lambs. And grade a few more papers (right now I’m grading papers about the ethics of using psychiatric service dogs, fascinating stuff).
Anyone else have a spring story to tell? Or how about fall if you live down under? I love to hear from you if you have a story to relate to the changing seasons. I’d write one about my own dogs, but I’m afraid there is nothing to say about them except that they are being sorely neglected. Poor Willie sits inside the barn and practically trembles with excitement over the lambs, but otherwise gets little exercise. Me neither. How about you…any spring or fall stories to tell?