Our first ewe lamb of last year, Cotton, kicked off lambing season this year with a ram lamb of her own. Ryan walked out to the winter pen to feed the sheep one evening and discovered a newborn lamb resting by the barn! He knew it belonged to Cotton, as he had been monitoring the ewes and knew she was closest to delivery. Sure enough, Cotton kept running back over to where she had left her lamb to check on him.
We decided to get all the ewes into the barn, and separated from the ram, so the kids could play safely with the new lambs. (Ever since the ram knocked me over, I trust him about as far as I can throw him!)
A few days later, we awoke to find that Poppy, our largest ewe, had twin ram lambs in the night. Both mom and babies were doing well and nursing by the time we entered the barn.
Lyla, who we were confident would deliver twins, disappointed us when she delivered a singleton. This combined with the fact that she had trouble shedding out her winter coat last summer (a major fault in hair sheep), has us questioning if we want her genetics in our flock. So far, Lyla is the only mama who has delivered a ewe lamb this year.
Statistically, we should get about 50% rams and 50% ewes. The “girl” team has some catching up to do!
We are getting pretty accurate at predicting when a ewe is about to deliver, and I think we’ll have the third member of our original ewe trio, Olive, deliver shortly. Her udder looks huge and full, a good sign that lambing is imminent. We are expecting twins from her, as well. Olive gave us such a nice ram lamb last year, and we’d be delighted if she could produce a nice ewe or two for us to add to our flock. Olive always looks healthy and strong, plus she shed her hair quickly last spring, an indicator of good genetics and health in hair sheep.
All the new lambs are doing well and we are enjoying stealing a few snuggles from them when we can. They are so cute and playful!
The weather has been so nice and mild for a Minnesota winter that it makes spending time out in the barn with new lambs much more enjoyable.
I get a few questions from people wondering why in the world our lambs are arriving in January. Admittedly, nature’s way is for new babies to arrive in spring, when there is plenty of new grass and sunshine. The simple answer is because that is what the farmer who owned the sheep before us did, so that is what the sheep are accustomed to. We never separated our ram (we didn’t have a good place to put him last year) so we simply left it all up to the flock, and we aren’t surprised they stuck to their old pattern.
Since our farm came with a handy barn and horse stalls, we have decided that winter lambing isn’t too bad. The lambs are never in danger of freezing or becoming a hungry predator’s lunch while safely tucked inside the barn. Also, since these are meat sheep, it gives the lambs a few more months of growth before the fall slaughter.
The arrival of new lambs is always a much-anticipated event on the farm. They grow so quickly! In just a few short months, they’ll be grazing right alongside mom on green pastures.