I finally got out in the field and took some photos. I also have some stories to tell.
Last year we bought 3 babydoll Southdown sheep; 2 pregnant ewes and a ram. The idea was to grow a herd of babydoll Southdowns. It was almost exactly a year ago today that our second ewe gave birth. The first ewe had a single ram lamb and the second ewe had twin ram lambs (one of which did not survive the night).
Here’s the thing… If you are going to grow a herd, you need ewes. We had the original two, but we came to find out that they are pretty old. With only two ewes our herd wasn’t going to grow as quickly as we would like.
We went and bought some ewes. We bought 4 Shetland ewes that were much younger. So we had six ewes going in to breeding season. Some of our lambs would be mixes, which is fine for our purposes, but we were also excited about growing our herd of babydoll Southdowns.
This year the first ewe to deliver was the Southdown that gave us a ram lamb that wasn’t eating, so we gave him away to someone willing to bottle feed a bummer lamb (thanks Sierra!).
Then the Shetlands started dropping babies. One gave us two black lambs, a boy named charcoal and a girl named Cinder.
Not long later another Shetland had a couple of white ewes that we named Phoenix and Firebird. And when I say ‘we’ named them, I mean the kids named them. We set the theme for the year (we wouldn’t let the kids make the theme tools) and that gives the kids a little guidance.
Somewhere along the way a third Shetland had a ewe that she abandoned and I don’t know that it ever took a first breath. When I found her she was already cold.
Then this evening, the enormous Southdown (enormous belly, she’s still a little breed of sheep) gave birth. There was a black ram that was born just a bit before I got home from work. He was bonding and everything was going well.
A bit later, I looked out the window and saw the ewe had another water sack hanging out of her back side. I thought that was odd because it had been several hours since the first one was born, but I didn’t really know. A few minutes later I looked out and the ewe had delivered a placenta. I went in and did a little research and discovered that the placenta is generally the last thing to come out, so I assumed she was done. I kept my eye on her and she seemed to still be laboring. After watching her lay down and push, I ran outside to look. She wasn’t interested in letting me look. I talked to the neighbor awhile and then my wife pulled up just in time to see baby #2 pop out. It was another ram, but this one was white.
We tried to leave some distance so Mama would bond with baby, but she was just kind of left him. I moved both babies to a sunny spot and mama followed, but still was only bonding with one of the lambs. She wouldn’t give the white one the time of day. She wouldn’t clean him off or anything.
Tis was a stressful half hour because we don’t need another ram. We have two adults and two lambs that are all rams. It would not be worth it to us to bottle feed him. It would take lots of time and energy and it is expensive beyond what you can recover by selling the ram.
We went and got the placenta and smeared it all over the ram that Mama was rejecting. And shoved the lamb in mama’s face. She wasn’t convinced. We held Mama down and made the lamb nurse. Mama still didn’t want anything to do with him. Eventually, my wife picked up the black lamb that the ewe was already attached to and just held him. Mama wanted her baby, but eventually found the white lamb and started smelling him and she decided that he would do if she couldn’t have the original. We eventually put the black lamb back and Mama took him too. They have both been eating, so I think all is well. We will see in the morning.
Evidently we will not be growing our flock of Babydoll Southdowns. The two ewes we bought have had six babies since being here. Every one of them has been a ram.
And here are some pictures of a big happy family. They aren’t ready to add Ash and Coal to the mix because the color coding has now been mixed up.