Dorset Down, lambing, lambs, self-sufficiency, sheep, smallholding
A little interlude from my tour around the Garden Isle, as I have a little news I wanted to share…
Our first arrival came along on Friday afternoon. Slightly took me by surprise, if I’m honest, as we weren’t due any lambs till Tuesday, and I hadn’t even seriously started checking the ewes regularly yet. But I turned up for the usual afternoon feed to find my oldest and most experienced ewe, Apple, on her side and in the middle of giving birth.
They look very pathetic when they first emerge: I try to stop myself interfering too much if I can possibly help it though as the ewe knows best what to do. In this case all I did was to make sure the mucus was cleared away from the lamb’s nostrils and it was breathing OK, then lifted a leg to find out what we had – a ewe lamb, as it turns out. How lovely: that means we can keep her. The kids have already named her Sugar….
This particular ewe normally has twins, so it was a surprise to have her with a single for the first time: I had been worrying that she was smaller than usual this close to lambing, and now I know why.
We waited with them till the lamb was up on her feet and had taken her first feed: it took a while, about half an hour, but she figured it out in the end. I towelled her down a little as it was chilly and they do come out sopping wet: then I sprayed her navel thoroughly with iodine. This is a key point of entry for infection so you have to be diligent: I sprayed it twice more over the next 12 hours or so just to make sure. You can tell when it’s healed well because it dries up and shrivels with no swelling by the belly.
What a difference a day makes. By Saturday morning she was up and about and though a little wobbly still, very healthy, taking an interest in her surroundings (and her mum’s milk supply!) and even trying a little skip, though she did fall over mostly. Her eyes are clear too – very important as we have a little inturned eyelashes in our flock, easy to fix but you have to be quick as it’s a very painful condition.
And this is what you want to see. Mum healthy, eating and feeding well: later today, after two days inside where I can keep an eye on them, they’ll be going out in the field with a companion for company, and we’ll be waiting for the remaining two to arrive.