Well, I thought all was quiet last night as I headed to the barn to feed the orphans before bed. I was walking along the path that runs through a field and noticed a lamb by itself. Usually, when they catch sight of a person coming towards them they seek out mom but this little guy didn't seem to acknowledge I was walking towards it. He struggled to get up so I picked him up and tucked him in my jacket while we searched for mom and the presumed sibling. Mom didn't immediately step forward so I went to ask Helgi for advice at the house. He recommended it would be best to find mom, instead of adding to my growing orphan family, so I walked around with the lamb. He eventually started to make some noise to which mom responded. I tried, very slowly, to lure her over to the barn with her lamb still in my arms. It did not work, so I put the lamb in the barn with the orphans (for safety) and made my best attempt to herd mom and her other lamb into the barn. The last time Snædis and I did this the ewe was very compliant and we had no issues and everything was calm. This ewe was not so calm. Helgi came outside to watch and eventually help me herd her in, we both got her at the opening of the gate, she looked at the open gate and started to sprint the other way. In my clogs, I tried to cut her and the lamb off without success. Helgi ran to get the ATV because the ewe and lamb decided to continue sprinting down the field towards the deep ditches and main road. I was instructed to tail her, so I ran after her through the mud and standing water (remember I am still in clogs, not so smart on my part). Because I was never going to catch up to these two, Helgi thought to run them into a ditch where we could tackle them. We successfully got them into the ditch but the lamb is apparently a high jump champion and launched out of the ditch to hide out with another ewe. Helgi grabbed the mom but was not able to get a good hold and she wrestled herself free. Once again, I was running and tailed the lamb while Helgi drove after the ewe. We managed to get the lamb first, so I was now running with a quite large, ~3-week old lamb on my shoulders, in clogs, after the mom. Eventually, she was cornered between two steep ditches and being tired she surrendered. Helgi had to get the trailer to truck the ewe and lamb back to the barn we had gotten so far away, so finally ditching the clogs, I climbed barefoot down into the slippery banked ditch and back up the other side with the lamb on my shoulders to go and hold mom at the edge of the field. All three of us caught our breath as Helgi came back with the trailer to reunite mom with her sick lamb in the barn. This was not the ideal situation in catching a ewe and her lamb, it makes it dangerous for all of their health given the stress and strain, as well as, the rest of the flock who was in a complete disarray as I ran through them. Once in the barn, I set up a comfortable pen for the family and took a better look at the sick lamb.
(From left to right) High jump champ lamb, wrestle champ mom, and very sweet lamb that just needed some TLC.
I woke up this morning to more rain (I am starting to feel like a broken record!), everything was calm in the barn and morning feedings went well. As I made my way through the middle barn I heard little Myla (the puppy) make a horrible screeching bark. On occasion, the younger ewes will feel particularly bold and threaten and chase the dogs knowing they will not fight back. I feared she was being attacked! I ran outside to see she slipped her leash off the post it was attached to and was being very brave keeping ewes away from the barn. I don't think the sheep were that threatened, maybe entertained by the puppy? Either way, I called her back and she was beaming with pride! She overcame her fear and kept ewes on the other side of the fence. Go Myla!
The very proud puppy returning
Many of the ewes in the fields around the house and barn are getting a little antsy, so Snædis opened the gate that goes to the mountains behind the house. These are the "small mountains" and at the end of June they will be rounded up, lambs are weighed and then they are sent to the real mountains. Having flashbacks of my sheep chase yesterday, I was nervous we would have to do more running, but the first group was ready to go and easily went out into their new space. This area also has much more shelter from the rain. We left to go block some holes in the fencing and returned to see another group was milling around the gate to the mountains, so we released a second group.
Gate to the "small mountains"
Very happy ewes ready to explore
While we were out in the fields, Snædis noticed a very small lamb trailing a ewe and her lambs. It was very apparent the small lamb was not hers, so we made a plan to try to catch the lamb. As we tried to angle the ewe towards the barn, the small lamb started following a different ewe. This ewe is the one that is desperate to get back into the barn for grain, so I brought out the signature yellow grain bucket and easily lured her all the way to the door of the barn. She eventually snapped out of the grain spell and realized it was a trap, she darted off with her lambs and Snædis was able to snatch the small lamb. We found out that this lamb belonged in a different field.... how it made it to the opposite field and was stealing milk from different ewes, we will never know. For now, he will join our orphan family. The tight-knit orphan family was not so keen on letting him join the group. I did not know lambs could be cliquey. My adorable chubby little lambs are quickly turning into snobs! I was ashamed as a lamb mother. Hopefully, this lamb is not here permanently, and we will search for his actual mom tomorrow, and if that doesn't work, we will try to adopt him out.
The small lamb that was brought in the barn compared to previously shy, now spoiled orphan
Apparently, the lambs have heard about my tendency for spoiling lambs and tried to make their way into the house. It took every ounce of my energy to stop myself from bringing the little wet babies in.
I thought I would end the post with this really cool looking lamb. It is a white lamb with a lot of phaeomelanin, which gives it the reddish color. I am used to our resident carrot tops, Hawaii and Hawaii's Girl, I did not know sheep could be this red!