Lambs drying themselves with the brief bit of sun in between rain storms.
Helgi's field work has been put on hold, as well as, the fence work that will keep the sheep out of the fields already seeded. Yesterday Snædis and I spent much of the day quickly preparing groups of ewes and older lambs and driving them out to the field. This was the catch, the bigger trailer and truck was being used by Helgi's family so Snædis got to drive 3 ewes and their lambs out in a small trailer hitched to the ATV at a time, making for MANY trips back and forth. How we prepare the ewes and lambs is the lambs get a dose of dewormer and the ewes have their udders checked and checked for any lameness, then sent on their way. We had to clear out the inside/outside areas because they were quickly becoming mud pits with all the rain and heavy hoof traffic. Many of the lambs loved the mud and you could see the mothers standing in the doorway screaming at the top of their lungs while their lamb jumped around in the puddles and pouring rain outside. The storms seem to have also encouraged those pregnant ewes to go into labor and we had an influx of ewes that needed jugs. So, with many muddy pens now not usable we had to hustle to find room for these sheep. In between all of this running around, we have our orphans. Our orphan pen has since doubled. Helgi brought some motherless lambs from his uncle's farm in the hopes the ewes expecting a single lamb would accept them. One, in particular, was adopted out almost immediately but the ewe did not accept her. The lamb knew it would not work and when I first met her she was standing in the feeder checking out her new surroundings and where to escape to next. We made eye contact and she let out a scream and came running towards me. She was wet with amniotic fluid (part of the adoption process) and smelled horrible but I could not resist letting her rest her head on my shoulder, while I held back my urge to gag at the smell of her. To sum it up, she is the female Delicate Steve.... although not as delicate and does not smell as good. She is very demanding of attention, suckles ears and loves to be held and walked around while I am on labor watch. If she does not get her way, she has a powerful set of lungs that she is not afraid to use. I think I will call her Stevonnie.
Found in the feeder, demanding to be picked up.
Pouting because I stopped holding her
There were two other orphans that were brought over from the other farm that were adopted to a ewe that was expecting a single. We adopted the first one before she gave birth to her own. However, after an excruciating delivery in which Helgi and myself had to both pull on this gigantic baby, her lamb did not survive. The lamb was alive before the delivery and from what it looked like (to me), her rib cage was too large for the birth canal and squished into her lungs making the lamb unable to breathe. This delivery is why the pregnant ewes have had their food cut off during the night and is one that we do not look forward too because it is very rough on us but mostly the lamb and ewe. However, there was a silver lining, we could give her another orphan. She was not as accepting to this one as the first and we struggled to get her to accept the little lamb. There were many ideas tried. First tying her horns up so that the lamb could nurse off of her and smell more like her so that she would be more accepting, wiping the goop that was on the lamb on the mom's nose so that she could only smell that smell. There was also another idea. Snædis brought out a large blue bucket. She put both lambs in, her idea was they would smell identical coming out and the mom could not choose favorites. Also, by letting them out for a short period and letting them nurse associated these lambs with a comfortable udder for mom. All of these ideas combined worked, and the two orphans now have a new mom!
New mom snuggling with the no longer motherless lambs
So, our orphan count is down to 4. The two original orphans that have not been assigned names, another older lamb, and Stevonnie. The two original orphans seemed to pass on some wisdom that if you see a person, scream and sound pitiful. Snædis calls it the choir of orphans as you try to sneak by them without being noticed. It is the most heart-wrenching sound and I usually get drawn into the pen very easily when I hear them. All of them have taken to bottle feeding except for one. The ram lamb has taken to bottle feeding a little too well and today ripped the rubber nipple clear off the bottle (it's a good thing that it was not an actual sheep). He also seems to forget that he drank a bottle and will run over crying for food when he still has residual milk still on his face. (He would make a perfect Patrick.)
"What bottle? I never got a bottle!"
Even though my sleep schedule is incredibly disjointed and coffee no longer seems to take any effect, I continue to have a blast here!