It is common knowledge that ewes tend to lamb when it rains. As spring is a rainy time of year in Oregon, this could just be coincidence. Not so coincidental, ewes will lamb in groups. Sort of like, that looks like a good idea, I think I’ll go for it too.
It is probably closer to a cycle thing. However, I must say it occurred to me, as our guest, Taffy, stood by my side, seven months pregnant, fascinated to watch one of our ewes giving birth, that I ought to suggest she keep her own legs crossed.
Her husband looked a little alarmed when I mentioned the ewe group birthing thing. Taffy was lost in her own reverie of a 45 minute delivery. How nice would that be! No assistance, no bright lights, just the warm smell of fresh straw and maybe a few curious faces peaking over the stall wall.
I’m not sure we’ve ever had a heavily pregnant woman on the farm during lambing season. Probably because most stay close to home. Lambs were on the agenda for this family specifically, I think, because they were pregnant. It was a chance to see new life revealed. It was a chance to do something they had never done before with their young son. It was a chance to be away from the city and close to life. Our girls didn’t disappoint, and Taffy, thankfully, didn’t go into labor!
The thing about baby lambs is that they are cuter than human babies and they do child-like things almost right away. We would be hard-pressed to protect ourselves as 3-day-olds, but lambs practice jumping in the air even before they are released from the barn. If you have ever tried to catch a 3-day old lamb, you need to be fast and you need to be nimble. It’s why they get all their shots and tags and bands before we ever let them out with the flock.
Lamb-life is simple. There’s recess, nap time,lunch, recess, nap time, lunch, pretty much in that order all day long. The younger the lamb, the more playful. Any object makes a jungle gym or play toy, especially dozing moms and mounds of dirt. Give lambs a hill and they play Lamb of the Hill. They run as a mob, choosing to follow whichever lamb leads fastest. Some stop for a milk break. Some lie down in the sun. If it’s nap time in the loafing shed, lambs can be found sleeping in the hay manger and large feed buckets!
This is a great time for lambs and guests alike. This is actually a great time of year for all of us on the farm. Small, warm, silky babies; moms lowing in the barn; grass coming on in the fields; children and parents wowed by the birth process and the chance to hold a baby lamb.
Taffy and her family left for the big city with some stories to tell. Come July, when it is her time to deliver, I hope the magic she saw in the barn will flow over her, protect her, and assist her with an easy delivery – although 45 minutes might be cutting it a bit close to get to a hospital in Los Angeles!
Photos: (top) lamb lying on its mom, (bottom) lamb resting in a bucket.
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2010 Scottie Jones