Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Little Finn Ram who Could

... get the ewe lambs pregnant when he was only 4-5 months old! So... first he produced the cute spotty ewe lambs from my Shetland ewe, Candy.  The next surprise came on May 21st, 11 pm, when, returning from Dear Daughter's big piano recital in Minneapolis, we found Heidi, a Finn ewe lamb I hadn't bred this year, fussing over a wet, tiny lamb on the floor of the barn, with all the other ewes and rowdy lambs hopping around.  Heidi was attentive to that lamb while continuing to cry with contractions;  after a long while I decided things weren't progressing correctly, and for the first time, I used the long, plastic glove my vet gave me to examine the ewe all the way inside.  I pulled out a dead lamb, tinier than Heidi's first.  Tiny ram lamb was too weak to nurse.  A preemie, I am quite sure-- no teeth erupted from his gums, yet... weighing a few pounds...
His ears started to perk up by his 5th day.

For the second time this year, we brought a tiny lamb into the house, fed it with 2oz pet nurser bottles  and kept in on a heating pad in a laundry basket. 
We always get out Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep and consult the chart that shows how much to feed bottle lambs at what stage.  We were lucky to have on hand a bag of milk replacer that a manufacturer sent me, free.  I'll advertise for them-- it was called Advance, and we liked it a lot.  It mixed easily with cold water.  We started to feed baby Ram lamb every 4 hours.  
He slept a lot.  His ears flopped down, like a puppy dog's. 

On May 22nd, my elder friend, Paul, the guy whose entire life I've taken care of for 18 months, suddenly died.  It was a busy week of funeral preparations and notifications, and throughout the week, I had a lamb who needed a bottle every 4 hours. 

We did restrain Little Guy's mother, daily, to let the baby nurse, but the mother has never allowed him to nurse without restraint.  In time, we let the lamb stay with Heidi all the time, while we brought him milk bottles.  We entertained the idea of selling him to Gale Woods Farm-- but worried when Tim, the manager, said that 50% of his lambs raised on bottles, without first receiving colostrum, die. 
All along, I have figured that we could do better than that, with all the attention we could give him... so we kept him. 

My wonderful nephew took care of the lamb on the day of Paul's funeral, and Little Lamb's only gotten stronger since then.
We've gone on to buy a new, big bag of milk replacer... and... it's time to go feed the lamb right now!


Michelle said...

You've had a challenging time of it; I'm sorry about your friend Paul. I have a three-month-old Shetland ram lamb that I have NO doubt could be breeding soon, so 4-5 months? No problem!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about Paul. No wonder you have been so tired. Rough spring, but cute lambs!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I almost forgot... I thought you were going to cut back on sheep?? Tee hee! :-)