Friday, April 25, 2008

In Every Cloud There's a Silver Lining

This is Before:

This is After:

And this is the "Rest of the Story":

Yesterday morning Bibb had twins. Boys - sigh - One white and one black (top photo). I found the black one wandering amongst the other ewes and their lambs. Somehow he'd gotten through the fence separating them and had wandered off. He was apparently the first born, and must've gotten "lost" while Bibb was cleaning number 2.

As usual, I put them in a jug with fresh straw, food, water. However, Bibb was having nothing to do with the black boy. White boy was definately the most favored son. I haltered her and struggled to get black boy fed. We did that several times... not fun, although the last time all I had to do was clip her halter to the hog panel and she held still. This morning, she was still batting him away - I spied on her via Lamb TV.

Now this morning. Charcoal was acting restless last night, even at the late night check, but no discharge yet. Bessie was starting to act restless. When I checked them this morning, I found two dead lambs and a distraught Charcoal. So sad!!! The little white one was a ewe, the other still in the sack, and didn't look good, so I just bagged it up. In the midst of lamenting, inspiration hit - I could try to get Charcoal to accept Bibb's black boy! The worst that could happen was that I'd have a bottle lamb to raise, and he was well on the way to being a bottle lamb already.

I lured Charcoal into a temporary pen with the dead lamb and raced to the barn to rescue black boy from his mother. (She now has another strike to add to the several she already had....) Carried him down to the Hilton, and on the way dunked him in the water tank. He was not happy about that!!! I rubbed the dead lamb all over him, trying to get the right scent on him.

Charcoal now acted confused and distraught. She'd sniff a little then push him away, circle around, baaaing. Finally I decided I had to wrap the boy in Charcoal's lamb's pelt. - You know you really accepted they're dead when you skin them. - Skin off, I tied it around black boy. Charcoal was still confused... and had not yet passed the afterbirth. We still had a chance.

I fixed up a pen for her and black boy, put in lots of fresh straw, went pottering about for a bit, then back in the pen. This time, when I held her, she let him nurse. I sat and scratched her chin and neck for several minutes while he suckled and waggled. She started cudding. Oh, this is a good sign.

Finally, she passed the afterbirth and I rubbed it all over black boy. She licked him!!! Then licked him some more!!! I pottered about some more, feeding and moving straw around. When I left them a few minutes ago, she was happily cleaning him off and he was happily nursing. I think I'll name him Black Market.

Bibb is happy with Favored Son. Favored Son is happy he isn't getting pushed around with his brother. (Photo 2) Charcoal is happy with a lamb. Black Market is happy with a real mom. (Photo 3) The Shepherd is happy she doesn't have to bottle feed a lamb but isn't very happy with 2 dead lambs :-(

Maybe Bessie will add some more silver lining to the clouds.

- Franna


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Is it just a mistaken perception or are there more lambing troubles this year than there have been lately?

Mim said...

Franna I'm Mimi Bullard in Reno. I raise shetland sheep. I saw your little Casper lamb and I have three lambs the same color. Are they grey katmoget too? I've been calling them calico since their legs are black and brown with the white body and some color spots. I know there is no calico in shetland! You can see pictures on my blog
I love your Gotlands sheep!

Donna said...

Great job with Black Market!

Kathy said...

Good save, Oh-Wise-One! :) You get a solid "Well Done!" and a "Good onya!" to boot!

We've had a disappointing year this year...with only one ewe left to lamb we have 100% rams. I am very disappointed. Looks like there may be changes ahead for Sheep Thrills Farm. I hope everyone remembers where they stored their suitcases! LOL!

Franna said...

Thanks, Readers. ;-)

It was such a relief to see Charcoal finally lick the baby. She never looked back after that and is being a very zealous mom. Black Market gets almost unlimited nursing time, which puts him in seventh Heaven!

- Franna

Becky Utecht said...

Oh Franna, I loved the story of Black Market and Charcoal. What a great job you did getting him a real mom! Very impressive, making the best of a bad situation. ;-)