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  • Kristin Ramey

A Tale of Two Mommies

Happy New Year! It's lamby time! We have a batch of young ewes that are pregnant and expecting any time now. Since the first of the year, we've had 4 lambs born to two mommies, and these are their very different stories.

I woke up one morning to Larry telling me to get down to the barn, that there were new lambs that were abandoned. I found three healthy, but cold, lambs looking for their mama. Since Larry had just put out fresh brewer's grain, all the ewes were munching on treats. I rounded up the lambs, and found the mama and put them in a stall with lots of clean bedding and fresh hay. We put mama in and realized for all three, there was just one mama.

Her name is Ellen, and she is 2.61 years old. This is her third lambing. She had a single, then a set of twins and now triplets. Three is a lot for a ewe to handle, and they don't all do it well. So she had to be isolated to make sure she could bond with all three. We put a heat pad on the ground to help keep them all warm. We supplemented them all with a bottle of colostrum and some extra vitamins and minerals for newborns. It's a standard practice to take a triplet away from a mama and bottle feed them. I usually pick the smallest, because they get pushed out by their bigger siblings.

In this case, we had 2 boys and a girl, Casey Jones, Uncle John and Althea. I have been giving a bottle to Althea, and her first night, she drank a decent amount. But her desire for the bottle has been waning. Her mama, though young, is calm and attentive. She gets up in the middle of the night to let them nurse. She stays near, and knows they will sleep in a happy pile on the heated pad. We locked them in the barn for a day, but have since been letting them out to play in the sunshine. We keep a nursing stall for the winter where we put newborns and very pregnant ewes, so they don't get mixed in the shuffle of the whole flock.

This mama comes from my Shirley line. Her mama is Applejack. Applejack's mama is Persephone - my ROCK STAR and Persephone's mama was Shirley - our best first ewe. So if anyone can feed triplets, it's someone from the Shirley line. She's doing great and we are so excited for her. We'll continue to monitor the babies, but they are bright and happy, and keeping each other company.

Now, here is mama number two. We have a first timer here, so we do need to be a bit patient. It can be hard for first time mamas, and things got weird with her fast. Her name is Vereena and she is a dorper ewe I bought last year as a lamb. I've been trying to add more Dorper back to my flock, so I bought some rams and this one ewe to keep. As a first timer, it's not a big deal nor is it a surprise that she only had one lamb.

I happened to be at work, and we've been monitoring about 4 ewes that are very pregnant. And as a first timer, her bags won't get huge, so it can be a surprise when they go into labor. We have cameras around the barn, and sometimes, when I need a brain break, I will pull up the cameras, especially when there is something to watch - like the triplets. I saw that Vereena was definitely in labor.

What I liked is that our current ram, Chocolate Thunder, set himself up in a position to guard her and let no one near her. AWWW! What a good dude.

The camera does not have great resolution, and I was really afraid she was struggling. I couldn't tell if she had hooves and a nose coming out, or just hooves. She seemed like she was struggling, but Larry wasn't home. I was about to call a neighbor when I noticed there was quite a bit of lamb out, and all she needed was one more push to get the rear legs out. She immediately started cleaning her lamb.

I continued to watch, and again, with a grainy view, there was something red hanging out. Could have been placenta, could have been a water bag for a number two, could have been a prolapse. At that point, it was time to head home, so I did. But while she was cleaning the baby, baby was wandering around. She got herself wedged between a section of fence and a piece of equipment. Mama was besides herself. Larry had gotten home and gotten them set up in the barn to be safe, warm and to bond.

But mama would not stand still. She loses her mind if she can't see her baby in front of her. So we milked out mama and fed that to the baby. Then we held mama still and tried to get baby to nurse. Mama was really hard to hold. Often, once the baby latches, they chill out a LOT. But this baby just could not get it and wasn't trying super hard. She was happy to be under mom, I even squirted milk in her mouth, put it on my finger (suckle reflex is fine) but her attempts were lackluster. So we milked mama a few more times and fed it to the baby. But mama will NOT CHILL.

Their first night in the barn, she circled around, chasing her baby until MIDNIGHT. And she finally laid down and let the baby lay down. The second night was no better. This mama is just nuts.

Maybe if we could get this baby to latch, mama would chill. But we struggle to hold her still. She sits down in protest, which makes it really hard for baby to nurse, or me to milk her. So we moved baby to the bottle. And it's just silly that there is a mama feeding triplets, and this PITA can't even sit still long enough to feed one.

Anyhow, it's Vereena's first go. We'll give her another chance. And her baby, Cecilia, is absolutely adorable.

Still on lamb watch - we have a very pregnant Vea, Mara, Meg and Princess Celestia. So here's to hoping for more lambs, soon! I hear it's going to get very cold this weekend, so likely it will happen then!!

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