Preparing for lambs is a brand new experience for us. This will be our first year watching our new sheep birth lambs, with any luck. I haven't the slightest clue of how to bring lambs into the world or what to expect. But I do know how to be a mom so that has to count for something, right?
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Our newest Southdown Babydoll Donuts is suspected to be pregnant. I say "suspected" because the only thing we know is that she was with a Southdown ram this fall and is now wider than when she arrived here on our farm. Therefore we "suspect". There are blood tests that can be done, but I just haven't tackled that. I'll just stick with the wait and see method.
We choose this specific ewe because she is 6 years old, a seasoned mother and usually bears twins. Another added bonus (for us personally) is that she doesn't produce well for her lambs, in the past. Now some of you might be saying, isn't that a bad thing? Here's the thing. Our kids have found that they love feeding bottle lambs because it allows the lamb to bond with our family.
Preparing for Lambs
I am not sure, however, that the kids are prepared for just how often these lambs will need to eat when they are brand new. Like every 2 hours! We typically have gotten bottle lambs when they are 1 month and require feedings in the mornings and evenings.
I am anticipating that these lambs will be in diapers and in our house for the first few weeks of life. I may even let them sleep with the girls in their beds for easier feedings. 🙂 Don't hold me to that! I just think it will be something they remember forever!
I've had my share of late-night feedings and getting up with hungry babies. It's the kids' turn! I can just imagine having to pen a note to school. "We apologize for the sleepy Twetens that you will be having in your classroom today. They were up in the night nursing baby lambs."
My motherly-animal instincts
As a mother of 4, the only thing I am relying on to prepare for our first lambing season is my animal instincts. Cleaning the pen, making it warm and dry, give our ewe lots of hay and water, and watch for signs of early labor.
Luckily we have the full support of the farm that Donuts came from. They have been through many a lambing season and really know what they're doing! I know plenty of other amazing sheep farmers that I am hoping will bring their lambing secrets to this comment sections!
I am hoping there is a YouTube video I can watch to know what to expect when it comes to lambing. If not, you will likely see a lambing video coming your way, shortly after. Fair warning- it will likely come from an angle of shock and awe rather than serious expertise. Also, I will gladly take your lambing hints and tips- go ahead and pile them up in the comments section!
The kids + sheep chores
Our oldest is in charge of caring for our 2 sheep. I should also mention that our sheep share a small insulated space in our tiny greenhouse. It's a small space that easily gets cluttered and messy after days of rushing through morning chores. It needed a major clean-up.
It wasn't an easy job. The bedding was as solid as a rock! It took the better half of the morning just to chisel through the solid mass of sheep poo. Plus I ended up riping through the vinyl flooring, grrrh! Add that to the spring fix-it list. But with our blueberry candy canes in hand and our artic muck boots on, we headed to the cold sheep barn.
As I suspected it was a mess. There were feed bags everywhere, grain on the ground, shovels about, ugh! How could this be a desirable working space for anyone?
Sheep Pen + Greenhouse
Once we get the sheep stall cleaned up we tackle the greenhouse side. This is where all our chicken mash and sheep grain is stored along with our patio furniture and our 14' trampoline, during the winter. It is tight!
I am still dreaming that one day, I will pick a perfectly ripe tomato from this greenhouse. Someday I will have electricity and heat! For now, we run an extension cord from the house to heat a small heat lamp and a heated water pail so the sheep water doesn't freeze.
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I need your lambing tips and suggestions!
Stay tuned to find out if our sheep is actually pregnant. Until then, I will take every and all of your lambing suggestions- in the comment section below!