The Start of the Season
This first blog has been hard to sit down to write. Our first winter here on the property was quiet and all of our animals made it through the snow and cold looking healthy and content. There were many days of hauling water buckets and wishing that we didn't have to run two different fields, but in the end it was worth it.
The start of our lambing season was rough. But, in the end, everything turned around for the better. I had made the decision to invest in a starter flock of Shetland Sheep. There was a woman south of us that was getting out of the sheep breeding and was looking to rehome her small flock. I figured why not, what could go wrong. Well, everything can go wrong within a blink of the eye. Eight heavily pregnant ewes and one ram made the trip home in one piece. By the next morning, when I returned to the barn to feed everyone, a ewe had lost her twins. I blamed myself, I mourned for the loss. Our first ewe to lamb on our property and the lambs were gone. Even though these had only been my sheep for less then 12 hours, it was heartbreaking. Later that day, the next ewe presented us with twin ram lambs. Both lambs were under developed but still breathing. We brought them inside to warm up and to try to get them to take a bottle as they could not stand on their own. In the end, one ram lamb was deceased within a day and the other was still trying to hold on.
Our next ewe to lamb gave birth to twins. One of the lambs was half the size of the healthier looking ram lamb, under developed and did not survive the first hour. The ram lamb however, was up and walking around, but his eyes were not opened. After three days of assisting the lamb every two hours to feed, his eyes had finally opened enough to be able to see. That is when we lost our bottle baby lamb.
By the 5th ewe to lamb and loose it, we were finally able to piece together and figure out that the ewes had a severe nutrition deficiency. The lambs were being born with under developed wool, under developed bodies, and goiters. At this point I finally accepted the fate of the remaining ewes and let nature take its course. If these ewes had been properly taken care of during their pregnancy, this could of all been prevented. We ended up with 5 living Shetland lambs and 8 deceased.
Our Icelandic Sheep that we started out with last fall all lamb after the Shetland fiasco. We lost one ewe that had an oversized lamb that we could not pull, but 8 beautiful lambs arrived healthy and unassited.