Thursday, April 3, 2008

New Lambs

Today, marks the beginning of the newest phase of Sheep Farm. The lambs have been born, their eating has stabilized and they are docked and vacinated and castrated where neccesary. All together, three ewes, two wethers and one ram.

Triplets were born on March 12th. The first, a white female was born just as the sun came out after a tremendous ice storm at about 3:15PM. She is named Sunshine. Then the drama started. The second, a black female came out backwards and I needed to remove the placenta quickly before she drowned. She was quite weak and couldn't nurse to get the colostrum from her mom. I put her in a bucket of warm water and dried her briskly with a towel to get her temperature up. At that point a third, a white male arrived easily and the mom concentrated on him and the first. The second was rejected totally, so I fed her colostrum formula directly into her stomach by tube and syringe. She still spends the night in the house and I feed her milk replacer by bottle.

Two days later, the second ewe gave birth outside in 20 degree weather to a white male. After letting her lick and become bonded I brought them into the lambing pens in the barn. Everything has been fine and the lamb is doing well.

A day later a third ewe gave birth in to a white female. The process and results were much the same as the day before.

A forth ewe had already begun a long period of appearing ready to lamb. Her udder was very full and nearly the size of a soccer ball. She seemed healthy and was walking and eating. As the week or more went by her udder turned blue and hard and cold near the bottom. I suspected mastitis and phoned the vet. He concurred but thought it might still turn out O'K. I massaged her udder on a regular basis and it seemed to stabilize. At 5:30 AM on the 28th, she finally gave birth to a stillborn white female that I pulled out to relieve her and make way for the possibility of a second. As I was finally giving up trying to revive the dead one, a second, a black male, came out in the freezing pasture. The mom licked and bonded, but her udder was too low for him to nurse. Adding to the problem, she had two false nipples up high that the weak new lamb went fruitlessly after. I milked her and bottle-fed him to ensure he would get colostrum. After milkings every two hours for 36 hours, I finally got him to nurse directly by lying on the floor of the pen and supporting her udder. In a few days he got strong enough to kneel down and get the lower proper nipples.

Excepting the sad still-born, all is well and they will be back at The Fields Sculpture Park by May. I plan to have a shearing on April 28th, but that date is yet to be finalized. I will update as soon as I know for sure.

I continue to make photographs and footage for a video.

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