Tuesday, June 07, 2011

As if the HEAT wasn't enough...

Wouldn't you know it?
Record high temperatures and the humidity so high it's stifling.  My last year of lambing in the Bluff Country.  I shouldn't complain.  I've had a pretty good run of it.   Never had a ewe reject a lamb.
Until now...

Kiss is a one year old ~ first time Mom who lambed sometime during the night or early morning on Sunday night/Monday morning.  I almost didn't even notice because I've quit even checking the girls since most of them are done lambing and the babies are half grown!

I was out working on some fencing, late yesterday morning when I heard a very soft "mewing?" sound.  Upon closer inspection, I found it was a new born lamb (cleaned off and had nursed, judging by the round belly) in the RAM barn with the big boys!  I don't know how he (moorit/smirslet) got into the ram pen.  The only thing that I could figure was that he managed to sneak under the fence.  He is EXTREMELY tiny.  The smallest lamb ever born in the Bluff Country.

To whom did he belong??? 
Princess had looked like she could lamb any day.  Her baby/s have obviously 'dropped'.  Kiss wasn't far behind and Chance & Dream are taking their good old time with their precious bundles.

Princess & Chance were up by the big barn.  I tried introducing them both to the little guy.  No interest and both were quite clean & tidy on the back end.  So, up into the big pasture I trudged.  Carrying this adorable, teeny-tiny, itty-bitty lamb.  A bunch of the girls were gathered around the big tree.  When I got close, I saw Kiss with a flashy, black & white, HST lamb.  Could she have had TWINS?  Apparently so.

Unfortunately, Kiss had all but forgotten about "Half-Pint" and was quite content to mother his big brother:  "On the Rocks" (Rocky).  I finally had to carry Rocky back to the barn/jug to get Kiss in there.  Did I mention that it's almost 100 degrees with dripping  humidity?

Once safely in the jug, I reintroduced Half-Pint to his Mother and his Brother.  Let's just say that Kiss was less than impressed.

While she chortled sweet nothings and gently nuzzled Rocky ~ who is a typical sized Shetland ~
when poor little HP got close, Kiss would grunt and push him away.  She wasn't particularly aggressive (at first) but wouldn't let him nurse.

The poor little guy needed to nurse so:
I tied the B*** up!
(did I mention it's mighty hot & humid?)

I should mention that I tried holding Kiss, pinned against the wall, for a few attempts, before resorting to tying her, but my arm was getting pretty beat up and I couldn't see through the sweat flowing freely into my eyes, so tying seemed like a reasonable compromise.

Although, Kiss didn't seem to think so. 
 It helped if I kept Rocky up by her head.  No problem!  I can hold an angry ewe who's tied to the wall and guide her hapless newborn to the milk bar, while strategically positioning  her big, bruising OTHER newborn to stay up by Mom's head and let his brother nurse for once.  With one arm. 

Half-Pint is so tiny that he can STAND, completely under Kiss (who is a fairly small ewe ~ being only a yearling) and still has to look up to nurse!

I go into the jug with the three of them, about once an hour and untie Kiss, but keep her on the halter.  That way, if she shows any aggression toward Half Pint, I can 'correct' her.  It seems to be working fairly well.  I even brought Kiss and her boys outside for a while this afternoon.  She enjoyed the grass and the boys got to stretch their legs.  Kiss still has to be watched carefully to make sure she doesn't get too rough with Half Pint.  She is standing better to let him nurse. 

I sure hope this works itself out FAST....

God, it's Hot.


  1. Here's hoping it all works out for them Nancy. It's looking very promising if she's letting him nurse without being restrained. I know how frustrating it can be when a mom won't take her baby, and how strenuous it can be trying to hold her. We've only had one that was a hopeless case, about 5 years ago. But this spring I had a yearling BFL who didn't want anything to do with her baby until I rubbed some of her milk on his head and butt. Suddenly she started to talking to him and the rest is history. As long as your little guy is already nursing from her, he should take on her scent soon. Best of luck!

  2. I say send him to Sara (CrazySheepLady)! Lila needs a little brother--we could do one of those things like dog rescues do and meet every so many miles to pass him on to the next driver. ;-) What a mess for you and I'm sure the heat and humidity was terrible. Hopefully she will soon take him so you won't have to keep working with them. He is a cutie.

  3. I don't envy lambing in this heat! We had a hesitant mother this year, too, and I tried the same thing - pin the ewe, keep her from butting me and guide the lamb to nurse. Sheesh! What a fiasco! They doing fine now, and I'm sure your's will be too. So adorable!

  4. Gosh, Nancy. *Hugs* I hope it works itself out quickly, too. ♥

  5. I know it's not funny, but hahaha! The way you tell it is hilarious. And half-pint is so ridiculously cute! I also hope it works itself out soon, aren't you still supposed to be taking it easy? At least a little!?!

  6. I guess Fate decided you needed at least one good lambing story with which to end your shepherdess career! HP really IS much smaller than his twin, but certainly looks healthy and vigorous about nursing his tied-up dam. Crossing fingers and toes for you all; take CARE of that arm!

  7. Anonymous7:44 PM

    Hi Nancy,

    You are just amazing to do all that in this heat with ONE ARM!!!! Hopefully Becky's right and the magic scent of Kiss's milk will soon allow a place for little Half Pint in her heart. He must be a healthy little fighter to survive that long in the heat and still be strong enough to nurse. Good luck with it all.


  8. If I lived closer I would come and help. What a job this must be in all the heat and humidity.
    Sure hope things calm down for you... especially the weather.

  9. Anonymous8:23 PM

    Oh, I want to take H.P. home!!!! (Think they'll believe my "really, he's a dog!" story?) What a perfectly tiny lamb. I'm so glad a reunion (of sorts) has been achieved. Michael was hysterical when he got to the "I tied the b**** up!" line. He said, "I can HEAR Nancy saying that!" Yeah, neither of us is lily white in his eyes. It was 105 here today, and I have a kitten that has uncontrolable green dribbling diharrea... not sure which problem I'd rather have to deal with today, cat or ewe. Hugs to you my friend!

    Katie in MN

  10. Half Pint is soooo tiny... Is there dwarfism in sheep? I hope Momma keeps up accepting him so they can get out of that hot barn and you can too...

  11. No dwarfism but it is possible for a ewe to "settle" (become pregnant) on more than one occasion and I suspect that's what happened with Half Pint. I did not see Kiss bred before Princess, so was sure that Princess would lamb first. It was a couple of weeks before I noticed Kiss showing any interest in Hero. Hero must have "got lucky" at least once, right away and then Kiss still cycled again. It sure looks to me like Half Pint is at least a week younger than Rocky!

    Yes Katie ~ I too found it humorous as I was writing about it ~ but trust me! It was NOT funny at the time...

    The battle continues tonight. I'm amazed that Half Pint has survived this long. All that I can do is hold Kiss long enough to let him get a full belly every couple of hours. I put the three of them in a big, outdoor jug tonight so that Kiss could graze. I watched them for a long time and when I came in (it was almost dark) the three were laying together. Although, I must confess, it was only because Rocky likes to lay by Half Pint and Kiss wants to be by Rocky.

    Thank you all for the support and encouragement!

  12. Oh, don't tempt me :-). Sounds like another day of "assistance" and they'll be back on track. Your sheep are good mommas. If not, I do have a half a bag of milk replacer left... ;-)

  13. Good luck with HP Nancy. Sounds like it is getting there. My ewe who rejected on of her lambs got a year off to forget about it lol, this year she is simply the best mother ever. Hope the heat (and humidity) break for you soon and you get a cool spell :)



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