It's lambing time again. Last year it was a long drawn out process and we finished up with 3 bottle-fed ewe-lambs and 11 males . . . or so we thought: a final check as the boys went off to the factory revealed another ewe-lamb and 10:4 is not a significant departure from the expected 7:7 ratio. So we can't complain, but resolve to do better. Because we lamb so late it is a particularly bad idea to get the youngsters pregnant in their first adolescent season. I know farmers who go for it, and deal with the extra work and a higher proportion of difficult deliveries and confused new mothers. But we don't have the stomach or the competence for that sort of hardship, so we carefully kept the four 2014 lambs in a separate paddock when we took delivery of the ram for his three weeks of hard work. To look after them we left our oldest, least-toothed ewe 'Patch' in the same field. She has been firmly retired from the maternity circuit after leading us such an unhappy dance last Spring.
After the Ultrasound man cast his verdict in February, we had three 'empties' - adult ewes predicted to be carrying no lambs. These we drove in with the teenagers and concentrated our attention on the maternity field. Tsk, wasn't the first sign of ovine fecundity this year the delivery of a still-born lamb to one of last year's lambs?! Over the next few days, two more of her sisters produced unexpected offspring. Three tupped empties + three untupped preg. How does that work? You can see why the ancients stoutly maintained that babies were delivered by storks because clearly our regime is a little hazy about who is doing what to whom. After the lamb-mams, two doubles (with a 2 written on the right flank) gave birth but the first one delivered in the field in the middle of the night and we lost one of the lambs to the fox. Score = 2 dead; 5 alive.
Of course, we were most worried about the ewe reportedly bearing triplets but she has shed her load (3M) just as darkness was falling and we've brought them all up to the poly-tunnel with the other mothers, Today was the last day of classes for the academic year: I'm ready for the 0200hrs feed if it should come to that. Score = 8 live lambs.
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