The Farm on Oak Creek

Eight is Enough

Tiny, as usual, was late but efficient.  Her lambs finally made their appearance on March 28th.  At birth both of them were larger than Mari’s little guys. That didn’t stop Tiny from pushing them out one right after another with less than 5 minutes in between.

Moosie, of course, did his best to assist. Unfortunately, unlike Mari, Tiny wasn’t licked clean by a dog at birth. She really wasn’t on board with canine participation.  I finally had to put him outside the gate.  While Tiny busied herself doing a mother’s job, I was able to check each baby to see what she’d given me.  Drum roll, please…. I got two little GIRLS!

Wa-HOO! My flock went three males and two females last year to five females and three males now.

I had a few minutes of worry, though.  Both babies came out covered in a layer of yellowish-brown mucus.  All I could think was Tiny’s liver was struggling. That’s not impossible, not with the arsenic in the water here in the Verde Valley. But there was no odor to the mucus and both the lambs and their mother had no yellow in the whites of their eyes, which would have suggested jaundice or a high bilirubin level.  When both girls got up and started nursing right away and Tiny dropped her placenta with ease, I gave up worrying for the internet.  I could find nothing that mentioned this color except when describing dead lambs, so I fell back on the encyclopedic knowledge of my friend Lu, who grew up on a farm with sheep. She recalled that this would sometimes happen when the ewe was late delivering her lambs. Ah, Tiny. That’s what you get for liking them better inside than out.

Mari and her twins were quick to welcome the newcomers, but Mari’s little ram lamb was especially taken with the new girls. He continues to believe that Tiny gave them to him just so he had more targets on which to practice his headbutts. He swiftly left off sleeping with his sister Milly in favor of the new girls, who were named Rose and Petunia by visiting six-year-old.  Always handy to have a little girl to do the naming. Staying as close as he does to his playmates, he has, from time to time, gotten confused about which mother is his. Tiny ever so gently reminds him with a little push, after which Mari calls to him and all is right with the world.

four babies!

Although Rose and Petunia are younger, they’re big enough that all four lambs are now well into their bounces. To me, this phase of ovine life appears to be the sheep version of involuntary spasms. The lamb is standing perfectly still, then the urge to bounce hits like a hammer, causing the springs built into his legs to “sproing.” This sends the lamb bounding wildly for a few yards until the springs relax and he stops still as swiftly as he started.  As fast and frenetic as this bouncing is, I haven’t been able to catch it on camera. Give it a few more weeks and I might just get all four of them at play.

Until then, I’m just going to sit on my retaining wall and giggle as I watch them. While I do, I’ll be considering whether six is sufficient.

Tiny has rightfully abandoned her nearly full grown sons to concentrate on her new babies. This has seriously irked her larger, more handsome son, her erstwhile favorite. Although he calls and calls for her, and she calls back, she isn’t interested in him any longer.  Apparently part of his grieving process includes headbutting the hand that feeds him. He’s gotten me twice in the back of the leg.

Rams! I see the future and it’s just like the past. Can we say Lamb Chop?

© Denise Domning, 2023