This has been a busy week on La Bella Farm. Not only are we in full swing getting spring produce planted and seeds started but four Hog Island lambs were born a week early!
Sedona gave birth to two lambs on Sunday. We named them Leslie Lee and Washington. Sedona is an old pro at raising lambs, this is her 7th pregnancy and she needed no assistance. On her own she found a cozy spot in the barn and gave birth, cleaned up the lambs and fed them with no help from us. She is a strict mother with her lambs and always has them close by and in line. Washington is constantly pushing the limits and getting himself into trouble. He likes to explore, clime on things and is constantly testing the fence line and try to wriggle under the gate. He is also a lover and is the first one to try to clime in our laps. Leslie Lee is very serious and she mimics everything her mother is doing.
Topanga gave birth Tuesday afternoon to twins Jefferson and Martha. This is her second pregnancy. During her first pregnancy she only had one lamb and struggled to take care of it on her own and was given assistance in caring for her lamb. Topanga gave birth to both lambs with no problem but in a less than ideal spot in the pasture. She started caring for her first born right away and then gave birth to her second lamb and quickly abandoned him to care for her first born. It appeared that she was rejecting Jefferson. By this time she had cleaned Martha off and fed her. We stepped in and moved Jefferson in front of her and each time she ran off and left Jefferson. Fearing Jefferson would suffer from Hypothermia we stepped in and cleaned him off. We wrapped him in blankets and rubbed him to get him warm. We then made one last attempt to get Topanga to accept Jefferson. This time we placed a halter on Topanga and led her back over to Jefferson with Martha tagging behind. Jefferson started to baa and at last Topanga started to sniff him and accepted him as her own. It's been 3 days and Topanga is carrying for and feeding both lambs but she does't appear to have a rule book for her lambs and they run wild. Often Sedona and Mila have to step in and discipline Topangas lambs.
During the first week the lambs had to have their tails docked and we did this on Thursday. I know it sounds horrible but if the tails are not docked flies will lay eggs under the tails and maggots will hatch and cause the sheep significantly more pain. Research has shown that docked tails greatly reduces the chance of maggots developing under the tail, making docking more humane than leaving the tail on. I know people will say 'but its not natural' keep in mind sheep were domesticated over 10,000 years ago and no longer resemble their wild ancestors. After much research and discussions with our vet we decided to dock by banding. The lambs only showed discomfort for a few minutes then happily went back to playing with their siblings.
Mila is due the end of May. She has been taking the role of Aunt seriously and helps keeps Jefferson and Martha out of trouble.