Meet the Sheep

Meet the Sheep is our spring event when we invite the public to see sheep and watch fiber activities. I haven’t kept track of how long we have been doing this but I have pictures from 2009 and I think we’ve been at it longer than that. Meet the Sheep comes off smoothly now with Farm Club members handling all of the outside activities. I spend most of the time in the shop but I get out occasionally to take some photos.

IMG_6237             Farm Cub members are invited to be vendors. This is Jackie with Sheep to Shop.DSC_9492                       These are some of her handspun, handknit pillows.IMG_6241                   Colleen has Fiber Confections.DSC_9488                      She usually sells at the Davis Farmers’ Market.IMG_6242                   Gynna makes socks.DSC_9479                       Here are some of her socks knit from my Anderson Ranch yarn and Timm/Jacob yarn.DSC_9471                 Joy sells dye plants…DSC_9454          …ready to use for dyeing and ready to grow. Her butterfly is made from a Zoom Loom square.

Farm Club members also demonstrated fiber activities. Alison and Doris were processing fiber, Laura was weaving on the inkle loom, and Lisa wove a tapestry on the Lilli loom.

DSC_9397                Of course, it’s all about the animals, especially the lambs.IMG_6230          Betsy, Mary, Sue, and Marina helped children pet lambs.DSC_9520              My little goats were an added attraction this year since Julie, who usually brings goats and bunnies, couldn’t be here.  DSC_9405                 This fence helped keep the kids in one place. Moms could relax temporarily.DSC_9417                  I saved the small field behind the shop so that the sheep would be enticed to come to fresh pasture for the weekend.

An new activity was Running Through Puddles. This activity is not offered every year, but the children enjoyed it this time.


Happy Lambs and More Triplets

Raquel lambed the day after Ears, also with triplets.

IMG_5604               Here she is the previous day, looking rather uncomfortable.IMG_5640




IMG_5648                       Here is how the barn list looked at the end of the day.

DSC_8366        Meanwhile , in the pasture the lambs were playing.DSC_8377






Enjoy life!

Bronagh Lambing

While I’m working in the barn I often take photos of the lambing process–partly to amuse myself and partly to use as a resource when new sheep raisers ask about the lambing experience. It is useful to know how much time there is between seeing a ewe in labor and when lambs are born, time between deliveries of twins, time it takes for a lamb to start nursing. There are wide variations in these figures, but I like to be able to show a “real-life” scenario.

This is a ewe named Windy Acres Bronagh who lambed a week ago.Bronagh lambing-1                   I saw her at about 7 a.m. and knew that she was in labor. The first sign of labor is often just behavior. You have to know what normal behavior looks like to know when something is different. I spend a lot of time looking at my sheep.Bronagh lambing-2                   A more obvious sign is seeing the sac emerge when the ewe has contractions. Bronagh lambing-3                  The first lamb was born about 7:20 and I brought the lamb inside the barn.Bronagh lambing-4                   It sometimes takes much longer before the second lamb is born, but this one was coming within five minutes.Bronagh lambing-7

Bronagh lambing-8                     That’s the first lamb getting up within ten minutes of birth.



Bronagh lambing-10            Both lambs were nursing within a half hour.IMG_5464                 This is the lamb board. These lambs were #49 and 50.

18050-5                       This is one of the lambs one week later.

Lambs, Lambs, Lambs

Are we getting tired of lambing posts? It only happens this time of year.

IMG_5308               Do you remember this lamb from a couple of posts back? Trista had a 10+ pound lamb and then almost two hours later a 5 pound lamb. She didn’t want the little one and I struggled to get it to nurse. I ended up milking Trista and tube feeding the lamb colostrum. I left the lamb with Trista but she became increasingly less happy to have it around and more hostile.

The lamb wouldn’t suck on a bottle and I was getting very frustrated. It’s one thing to have to feed a lamb every four hours, but then when it doesn’t suck it’s maddening. You get the nipple in the mouth, the tongue hangs out the side and the precious colostrum goes everywhere. (This brings back frustration of trying to get Brown Swiss calves on a bottle. The Milking Shorthorns were fine, the Brown Swiss were not.)

A solution presented itself the next day.

IMG_5361                    I saw this in the barn. This lamb was standing hunched up like a lamb does when it doesn’t feel good. This view from the top down shows how large it’s belly is and it was tight as a drum. From previous experience I suspected intestinal atresia, a malformation of the digestive tract where the intestine is not complete. The lamb eats normally at first and then there is no where for the milk to go and this lamb was already over 24 hours old–it didn’t have long to live and was in great discomfort.

When a lamb dies if you put the fresh skin on an orphan lamb sometimes you can trick the mother into thinking that it is her baby.  I went to the house for my new knife (purchased for when I need to necropsy or skin something and the sharpest thing in the house has been a pocket knife). By the time I came back to the barn the lamb was dead.IMG_5310                In addition the lamb had stopped nursing so the ewe was at risk of mastitis as her udder filled, even though there was a remaining twin. One side had started to fill more and become uncomfortable. That starts a vicious cycle where the ewe won’t let the lamb nurse and that side of the udder gets worse and worse. This is a photo of milk from Trista, the orphan’s mom. I got over two cups of milk from the ewe with the baby who died.

The trick was going to be to get this lamb who had never nursed on her mom to nurse on this mom.

IMG_5364                  I made a little lamb jacket out of the skin by cutting a neck hole and leg holes. It’s kind of hard to tell if you don’t know that’s what you’re looking at. IMG_5365-2                 The new lamb was smaller than the one that died so this jacket was a little large. The mom wasn’t convinced at first that it was her baby, but she didn’t outright reject it. The lamb had eaten (been tube fed) just two hours before so it wasn’t hungry. But later that night it was hungry. It was on it’s feet and when I held the ewe still it nursed! 18028                  The next day the jacket was beginning to smell. The idea is that at first the mom smells her baby and eventually gets used to the new lamb smell. So our transition was original lamb smell mingled with new lamb smell, new lamb smell mingled with dead smell, all new lamb smell. I had cut a portion of the skin off to get more of the new lamb smell and because I wanted the lamb to be able to adjust to the cold when the second skin came off.  But this skin jacket was so big that at that point it got tangled up and I took it off.

I kept the ewe and the lambs in a pen for several days so that I could watch. The ewe slept with her lamb and not the new one. She would stomp when the lamb tried to nurse but if I went in the pen she resigned herself to it (almost rolling her eyes) and stood there.

Mae-18028              We have success. I haven’t had to hold the ewe for a few days while they have been in a group pen. They will go out tomorrow and I’ll keep an eye on them. But I think the baby has a new mama.



More Lambing

I’m going to backtrack chronologically. I thought I had some other photos from lambing but I must be sleep deprived because I forgot that they were still on my phone. As I said in one of the other blog posts, the first lamb was born the day after I got back from Texas.

But here is what greeted me in the morning when I went to the barn.Cayenne fighting                  This is Cayenne…Serrano fighting                  …and this is Serrano. Yearling rams trying to figure out who is boss. I think most of the blood came from a fifth horn that was behind Serrano’s lower horn–that horn is gone now.  I’m not sure who won. Neither of them seemed to be feeling very good for a day or two.

This is Jane’s lamb that was born on February 22, the first day of lambing.

DSC_8020                The last post  ended with a storm. But the weather changed to cold but sunny. Time to get the sheep out in the field.estelle               Estelle and lambs.

DSC_7968                  Ht Lips and her triplets plus an extra.Hot Lips-18002

Fandango-18035                   Back in the barn lambing has continued at quite a clip. This is Fandango and her BFL-cross lamb.18039-18040                    Vixen’s twins.

IMG_5376                                             There are plenty of lambs to cuddle.



IMG_5387                        Here is the lambing count a week ago. IMG_5405                 My bike set up on a trainer in the house. The only use it is getting right now is as a sock drying rack right.



Dilly is not even a year old. She was born March 11, 2017. Most of the lambs (soon to be yearlings) won’t lamb until after most of the mature ewes have lambed. But Dilly didn’t waste time last October with the ram and she was the eighth ewe to lamb. I didn’t have a breeding date for her and she wasn’t even on my radar.Dilly-lamb-1                So I looked over the barn wall where I spy on the ewes and saw this. Yearlings aren’t always sure about what to do with a lamb and need a little time to let their instinct kick in. It is important that a young ewe has a chance to figure out that the lamb is hers and that she really does want it. You don’t want to interrupt that bonding time. However she can also be bullied or distracted by other ewes who are curious or close to lambing and will start to mother the lamb themselves.

Dilly-lamb-2                  I walked around the gate briefly to push the other ewes away and then backed off so that Dilly would approach her lamb again.Dilly-lamb-3                   I gave her some time and then slowly picked up the lamb and got her to follow it into the barn.

Dilly-lamb-5                        This lamb was only 4.6 pounds. The other Jacob lambs are more often 7 to 8 pounds or even more. Dilly-lamb-7                 It was stormy and cold so I put this little lamb coat on it for the night. However the coat was too big and got wet. By morning I took it off.DSC_7897             Dilly’s lamb at 2 days old. Farm Club members were here for part of the morning and asked me to name the lamb Dally.

Dilly-dally, from the Oxford Dictionary: Waste time through aimless wandering or indecision.

Dilly-dally, from the Urban Dictionary:  To mess around or waste time. Typically used by the very elderly.

I’ll go with definition #1.That part about the very elderly bothers me.