I anticipate the annual Coming of the Lambs with such intensity that this year I was making the hourly pilgrimmage to the barn seeking new life with ridiculous prematurity. We nicknamed the first lamb “17” because it was on Day 17 of these never-ending checks (at all hours of the day) that the first set of twins arrived. I was so sleep-deprived by the beginning of this first birth that the remaining 3 weeks of woolly arrivals was a true blur of amazement, wonder and delight. Other than moonlit barn snuggles, crisp early spring air, and a little straw in my hair, it was much like welcoming my own kids so many years ago.
Mister “17” and his twin brother were an interesting birth, and I felt like even after 6 years of keeping sheep, that was the decisive moment that earned me my Shepherd’s Membership….a highly coveted though entirely facetious qualification. Delilah, the ewe mama, had a hard time pushing after her waters broke. Sunshine and I had chairs pulled up to watch, and after over an hour of her calling for her baby, I knew I had to “go in”. There was a flurry of activity and a quick dash to check with my online sheep support, and then out came the gloves and lubrication. I was terrified. All these years, I have crossed my knitting needles (okay, fingers) that I would always have straightforward, uncomplicated births. Apparently the sheep gods did not hear my prayers because that first little guy was stuck like a cork, despite a normal positioning. My husband helped with dubious enthusiasm, but I managed to finally get “17” out. I had very little hope of any of their survival. But sure enough, “17” quickly bleated for his mama to come and lick him off so he could hurry up and suckle. Soon after, with some midwifing, his brother arrived, also with fighting vigor in his tired little body. Happily, this trio is surviving and now thriving and the rest of lambing went so easily because my imaginary Shepherd’s Badge of Approval gave me the confidence to relax into the whole process, and enjoy the entire 3 weeks of lambing season.
As it turns out, I needed to intervene for a total of 4 of the 7 ewes. The other time that help was needed, I was out of town helping my parents, and my husband successfully midwifed for our wee little Shetland lassie. Agatha lambed our only girl, a tiny ball of multi-coloured creamy colours that makes her look more like a skein of yarn with legs than a lamb. Josh said he had to check 3 times and then again in comparison to one of the boys, because unbelievably we had 10 ram lambs and just this 1 ewe lamb. Crazy statistics that have many shepherds giving me sympathy…which is completely unnecessary. I knew that I was only going to keep one or two lambs this year, and having this little girl gave me the gift of not having to choose. She is enough.
As for all these ram lambs….four are sold so far (leaving in 3 more months) to become studs to their own flock, and live long lives. I wanted to keep several until shearing next spring, and then find them good homes. I will have oodles of my Lambie-Pie yarn which is a combination of our own farm fresh lambswool and another farm’s kid mohair. I can hardly wait til the fall to have some white Lambie-Pie yarn available!
In the meantime, you will find us ringside in the Lamb-pede festivities. This gaggle of 11 woollies are gaining a pound a day and dashing around the mamas, leaping in the air like they are a skateboarding gang only to fall into a contented cuddle puddle of exhaustion.
***if you are wanting to learn about becoming a virtual shepherd for a year and sponsor “17” or one of the other lambs (you receive lots of lamb and wool gifts, too), head on over to our SponsorSheep page (link at the top of the page) for more information.