children on farms
Life has been hectic with planting and foster lambing and hosting the hoards of visitors who come during lambing time.
My first foster appeared about a week after lambing began, May 10th. He was a lovely looking piebald, part Suffolk, with a black nose and one eye and one ear, and splotches elsewhere. His mom was a 7 year old who had triplets, and just couldn’t cope, so he was HUNGRY. I just had him a day, then Chris made a hopeful adoption, which failed after a couple of days, then he came back. He got the runs, from the double change in food, but we stoppered him up.
Meanwhile, three others appeared. Two were just hungry and cold; one’s mom just loved the other one; one was a tiny triplet, and I don’t remember about the third. The small pretty white one just never decided to live. I’d milk a mouthful into her, stroke her throat to get her to swallow, wait awhile then repeat. No luck. The other two lept forward, starting to fill saggy baggy coats. Yet another came who really had problems. Both eyes were sore, and he needed regular bottom washing (and the cage papers and my clothes constant changing.)
So the first foster lamb buyer came twice, took the two healthy ones, then agreed to take the vulnerable one free, along with two others. It just needed more care than I felt able to give. (He reports a week later that all are thriving, though the eyes are still sore.)
I’ve been super lucky that Kyle was home, as well as Will and Haley. Kyle stays up late, so the babies can get a warm tummy full in this cold weather, and Haley enjoys cuddling and feeding. Sharing the job of foster lambing is so much nicer. Ian does backup, disposing of soiled papers and doing my laundry.
So, the next lot came on fast. That wet and cold weather is not healthy for newborns. We had one huge triplet (the smaller pair stayed with mom), one whose mom got mastitis, one whose mom died during birthing, and two who were really hypothermic, who just didn’t get up to get that crucial first feed. The 3 were ok, the other two were touch and go.
I was having too many visitors and getting really tired. Nathan was an enormous help with the visitors, taking them to the Wool Shed when I was washing up; “come on guys” invitations to see hens, tractors, sheep drives as I sold items or talked one on one to more seriously interested folks. It was getting really hard to feed in the morning and wash the cage floor, then get myself hooked up for the morning feed, to be finished in time for the 10 am visitors.
My 2nd set of customers were teenagers – they were planning to do a 4H project. 14 people arrived at the same time – 3 groups – and I needed to teach the new owners. Nathan to the rescue again. The really cold baby made it, thanks to constant cuddling by every visitor who sat down, as well as my wearing it inside my coveralls (another change of clothing thanks Ian). It could only take 1 swallow every 5 minutes at first, but the report today is that it is gambolling up and down the hallways.
It can truly be a miracle. Its a joy to be part of it. Its a relief to have it over for another year.
One of the teens reported in:
It was an interesting long ride home and everybody is doing fine. The weak boy is taking a little bit more from the bottle and is kind of walking. I think the weak girl is my mom’s favourite she cuddle right up to her at feeding time. We have been feeding the weak ones often and are planning on going at 8pm, 10pm, and I will be waking up at 2am to feed just the weak ones again. It is quite the adventure to have 5 lambs and a great experience. Thank you once again!