I’ve not been so good with the blogging lately, but I have a good excuse, because I’ve been preoccupied with lambing. All three of our Ryeland ewes have now had their lambs. This year’s Ryelands are all destined to become either pedigree breeding animals, or woolly pets, which is why I’ve named them, and allowed myself to get just a little attached to their cuteness! The Ryeland Flock Book registers pedigree names alpabetically by year, this year’s letter is ‘L’.
The first two ewes had their lambs a fortnight ago, within two days of each other. Coffee had twins, a ewe and ram, now named Lucky and Lottie, and Chocolate, who looked huge beforehand, had just a single ram lamb, Louis.
This is Lottie at a day old:
And here are all three of them at around a week old, sunning themselves during an early excursion to the field. From left to right they are: Lucky, Lottie and Louis.
We then had a wait of nearly a fortnight for Truffle to do her bit. I was on late night and early morning barn watch during that time, but somehow she managed to evade us and had her twin lambs, a ram and a ewe without my knowing until I found her with them one morning.
They’d only been born for an hour or so, and while the ram lamb seemed fine, the little ewe lamb was clearly very weak, so we gave her extra care. She had extra bottle feeds, while we also coaxed her to feed from her mum, and we checked up on her hourly throughout the following day and night. By the next morning she was looking better, but still not as perky as a day old lamb should be, so we got the vet to check her out. And the diagnosis was a severe heart problem, apparently the little ewe’s heart is leaky between the left and right sides, so it’s not pumping blood properly to her lungs. This means that her heart and lungs have to work extra hard to supply her body with oxygen. The vet gave her a small chance of survival, an even smaller chance of growing up to healthy adulthood, and insisted that if she did make it through, she wasn’t going to be suitable for breeding. All of which was pretty heartbreaking news, as I’d hoped this little one would join the breeding ewes in my new Ryeland flock. The vet also jokingly suggested we delay naming her, as that was just asking for trouble! But her advice came just too late, as the little ewe and her brother had already been christened Luke and Leah.
Despite this poor prognosis, we wanted to do our best by the little one. My parents and brother, who are always marvellous in a farm crisis, jumped into full lamb care action, and we took shifts to watch little Leah, feed her extra milk when necessary, and generally ensure she got the best chance of survival that she possibly could. And, the good news is that so far, it seems to have worked brilliantly. By her third day Leah was looking much stronger, and feeding well from her mum without any bottle supplements.
Here she is with her mum, Truffle:
She and her brother were even seen skipping about a bit.
Before taking a well earned rest. Leah’s on the left and that’s Luke on the right in the pic below. See how pretty Luke’s markings are? That’s going to be one interesting fleece to spin!
Today, at five days old, was Luke and Leah’s first day out in the paddock with the big lambs. They managed very well and were spotted doing some hopping and skipping, followed by some serious soil chewing (all lambs enjoy eating soil during their first few days outdoors). They are currently tucked up in the barn, and Leah’s looking quite the normal little ewe lamb. She’s not out of danger yet, so I’m keeping a close eye on her to make sure she doesn’t get overly tired or stressed. But so far at least, we have a happy story.
Tomorrow I’ll announce the winner of the Wildcraft spindle competition, along with some exciting news for the rest of you. There’s been a fantastic response, thank you to all those who left their ideas. They were many very creative ones, and picking a winner isn’t going to be at all easy!