16 February 2008

The first of this year's lambs

I got up this morning and checked out the window, as always, and I thought I saw something small and dark in the pasture. I looked again, and realized that it was a cat. :)

Then, I thought I saw something else ... and when I looked again, I saw that indeed, it was a lamb!

We all got dressed and headed out to welcome our newcomer: the lamb was really quite new, not even fully dried off. We got the mama sheep and the baby into the isolation pen, and checked to see how they were doing. The lamb seemed rather weak and was shivering: she was not strong enough to nurse, and without that immediate dose of milk, a lamb will quickly develop hypothermia. Many who get that nasty first chill don't make it, even with subsequent intervention.

So, realizing how chilled this baby was, we apologized to the mama sheep and took the baby indoors to warm up: the little lamb's temperature was pretty low, so we submerged everything but her head in a bucket of warm water to ease her shivers. I spent a few minutes collecting some of that precious first milk for the lamb, and then we used a tube inserted into the baby lamb's stomach to get the milk into her: we use a tube rather than a bottle so as not to confuse the baby's sucking reflexes, it is the same reason that human mothers who nurse their babies avoid using bottles.

The lamb warmed up after about ten minutes in the water, and we let her dry out while we ate our Saturday breakfast of waffles and strawberries (a special breakfast made in response to a request from Dinosaur Boy). One more dose of milk (this time from a syringe, as she was much more energetic and I thought she might fight against the tube) and the lamb was sufficiently recovered to rejoin her mama Pugsy outside. Bob took up his position just outside the pen when we arrived with the lamb, guarding the new family.

The new lamb has been christened Dilly Bar as she was rather frozen, and as a purebred Hampshire, although she is gray and black now, she'll be white and black in fairly short order. It seemed a good name for the start of the season!

All the lambs this year will have names that start with D ... we've started a list of ideas, and we're anxiously awaiting the next arrival!


  1. Anonymous8:37 am

    What a beautiful baby!!! Congratulations!! Great that you were there to provide the help needed.

    Love, AC

  2. Anonymous3:08 pm

    Hi reading through your archives and enjoying your trials and tribulations. I'm a rural Albertan raised and currently living on a farm. A diehard past 4-H'er and Leader so finding your journey of interest. What a great way to combine interest and talents. I noticed your comment regarding nursing mothers avoiding the use of bottles. Having nursed both of my children for long periods before weaning I would like to note that in the first few weeks or months this indeed is true generally. Bottles are used by some mothers occasionally for juice, water(distilled), milk(expressed for the odd night out) and does occur. In my nursing mothers group there were no huge issues that arose.
    Life on the farm is hard work but brings the satisfaction of a good night's sleep(at least once I retired from my off-farm job).
    Enjoy the journey!



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