No photos today – just an update!
The bred ewes are all doing very well. Winter has been very kind to us here in southwestern PA, and the pastures are already showing some signs of growth – which the sheep have discovered! They are leaving their hay more and more often to wander the pastures in search of delectable newly sprouted deliciousness!
Little by little we are preparing for the arrival of lambs! People are so excited to see them – especially us!
We are tweaking our setup a bit from 2020.
Technology continues to improve, and so in addition to the stationary barn camera we had in place before, we are adding some pan and tilt color, night ready cameras to help us monitor the ewes for signs of labor. The more we can monitor from the warmth of our beds during the night, the better! We will take shifts for waking up and checking our phones -instead of waking up, dragging on the boots and headlamp, and heading out in the cold to check them all. The other advantage to this is that we won’t disturb them if they are resting. The camera is quiet and small, vs. us being noisy and shining flashlights at them!
We’re going to tweak our setup for inside as well. We will again have the 4 lambing jugs – 4 small “stalls” for mom and lambs to be placed either close to delivery or soon after. These private spaces give mom and babies time to bond without the disturbance of other nosey ewes. Typically they will stay there for a couple of days during which we will be able to keep a close eye to be sure mom is accepting them and they are getting adequate nutrition. They will be weighed and tagged during this time as well.
We will also set up a larger area in the barn to bring them into at night if conditions are unfavorable for them outside while they are waiting for their lambing time to arrive. We can also use the area to separate out ones who are close to delivery to have them closer to the lambing jugs.
The last area of the barn will be a designated mixing pen. Here moms and lambs will go after their time in the jug to be introduced to the other moms and lambs prior to releasing them to the pasture behind the barn.
Last year we set these last two areas up on the fly. This year we will be more prepared!
Soon we will bring the flock in for vaccinations. This will give immunity to the pregnant ewes that will pass through the colostrum to their lambs in their first day or so of life. We will also give pedicures and check udders to help verify successful breeding, as we do not have an ultrasound to confirm this. Everyone will get vitamins and minerals, and at some point we will separate the pregnant ewes from the rest of the flock.
We will also be setting up our lambing kit – all of the medications and supplies we might need during the 2 weeks of craziness! Hopefully, as these girls are now no longer first-timers, we will have very few hiccups like we did when they were newbies in 2020!
So grateful, meanwhile, for longer days, shorter nights, greener pastures, growing warmth, returning songbirds, spring peepers, growing tree buds, and soon – frolicking lambs! Come soon, Spring!