Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ewe Tube update

Whew!  It has been a busy couple days.  I had a concert to play last week which had me gone every evening so away from the farm.  Our ewe, Wild Woman....and she's every bit living up to her name, lambed.  We expected by her size to have a single and all would be fine.  She had a nice udder and all seemed fine.  Unfortunately, Friday night as I checked on her and then left for the evening, she lambed while no one was here and had triplets.  Paul came home to find the sad situation.  Two dead lambs (one out of sack, not cleaned and the other still in sack) and one teeny little cry of a live, clean and dry baby that couldn't stand.  All three, ewe lambs and all approximately same size and development.

The sheep were alone for 5 hours, completely normal for us, and Mom lambed early.  The babies were very premature and if we had been here, I can't say if the other two would still be with us now.  Every year is a lot of work and I'm still learning but, it doesn't make it any easier.  The Mom is wild and scared and not sure why she ignored them, or even is she did, except that she is young and just had triplets.  So, the one live baby, was too small to walk and too small to nurse on a less than attentive Mom, so we brought her inside.  If I was able to stay home the next day, I would have left baby with her and just made sure she nursed every 2 hours but, that was not the case...someone has to pay for all these animals.  I took her to work to make sure she was eating.  We ended up tube feeding most of the first day until she was interested in a bottle.  Tube feeding assures they get the food and won't confuse baby as much between mom and bottle 'feel'.  

"Tiny" weighed at 2.7 lbs less than 24 hours old

You can see she is only a little taller than a normal travel mug.

When I got home, I put baby back with mom.  Both were very happy about this situation and I thought all might be fine but, the weather was turning colder and baby wasn't strong enough or coordinated quite enough to follow mom to be able to nurse.  Even in the small pen they were in, I wasn't convinced she would stay warm and get any milk without my assistance.  The temperature was dropping as I watched the two. Mom eventually became indifferent to her.  She wouldn't care if baby tried to nurse, didn't push her away, but didn't stand still long enough and wasn't nurturing to her.  So, I brought baby in for the night.  I thought I would continue to take baby out with me to nurse on mom at frequent intervals and maybe she would get strong enough and the weather would warm tomorrow.  I got up in the middle of the night, took her out to try to nurse and nothing.  Baby too cold to nurse, mom scared, hard to catch and be calm even in the small pen.   Eventually, I became frustrated enough with lack of sleep, working extra hours, and trying to make nature happen the way it should;  after 3 days, I gave up.  So, little black ewe lamb became, "Tino-might" and moved in with us, diapers and all.

see the shoes?  Either Paul has big feet or this is a tiny lamb.

Here is her home in our kitchen in her crate.

Normally, I would crop these photos to hide some of our "living space" but I want to show her size. 
Did I say Tiny?

So, I had to work Monday, all day, so I brought her along with me.  All of my colleages are loving this arrangement and she is fast making god-parents. 

At this time, Mom has plenty of milk, so we milk her and feed baby.  At 3 days old, she weighed 3.1 lbs so, she is gaining and doing well.  We have been following the schedule and amounts in the blue Laura Lawson book "Managing Your Ewe and her Newborn Lambs".  It has a nice formula for calculating amount of milk needed based on baby's weight.  We have only been using Mom's milk so she got plenty of colostrum and has plenty of milk. 

So, RIP to her two sisters.  Not sure what the outcome would have been if I was there but, also not sure if I could handle 3 preemie bottle babies and work full time and own a business.  I am extremely happy that Mom had triple ewes at 11 months old and we'll have some tough decisions to make in the future for breeding, keeping and selling as the flock grows and we push to our goals. 

Such is life and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Next due date:  April 2

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