Our recent days of joy with the four newborn lambs and dutiful mothers ended abruptly with a saddening 6am phone call. Patrick's words hid hard, "The black mother sheep is standing in the bathroom stall. She is bleeding badly. It looks like dogs." "I'm on my way," I replied.
As I put on my shoes and clothes, shuffling out the door I was hit with the realization that we probably lost all the new lambs and probably their mothers too. These mothers were so instinctual they would probably not leave their lambs in the face of danger. I had let them stay outside the main pen since they gave birth and were sticking to a single out-of-the-way spot, and was just ready to more them in to socialize with the herd. We have not seen roaming dogs or tracks in a long time, but obviously I waited a day too long. I feel awful what happened to them. And responsible.
The picture above is Martha, the one found in the bathroom. Martha was a model mother of her lambs and consistent breeder. This image shows one side of teeth marks on her jaw. Her neck was punctured and she was choking on her own blood. Her back leg was so badly ripped apart that I decided not to put the images on our website. Unfortunately, we had to put her out of her misery. She was not going to live. While I would have preferred to honor the animal by using every part, her massive internal bleeding made the carcass almost completely tainted.
Two dogs did this, for sport. They just killed them one by one, without eating them. Looking at the tracks I judged there were two dogs, one very large and powerful with big jaws and the other medium sized who was the follower. They snuck across the farm before the sun rose Sunday morning and made their attack after finding these in their tuck-away area behind a farm house. I found two baby lambs, brother and sister kids of the white ewe, dead on the ground laying peacfully as if they were both simply asleep. The other mother had many bites, but we administered antibiotics and washed her wounds. Miraculously, a third lamb appeared out of the bush, who Shelli found and we rounded her up to safety. The fourth lamb is still unaccounted.
We are reeling from the tragic loss of these sheep and seeking for the owner of a large Rottweiler with a red collar, as our neighbor said a horse was attacked the day before just on property over by such a dog. Until then, no animals of ours our allowed out of their enclosures!
These are just a few of our chicken eggs that I retrieved yesterday from one of the coops at the farm. It struck me how beautiful these are. It's like every day is Easter! The wonderful thing about these, other than the dark yolks and size, is that we can know which chicken laid them (or at least narrow the options), because each will lay the same color eggs every time.
We have a continual struggle with the mongoose 'dem, who apparently love them just as much as we do. They get their fair share, but that is a story for later.
The bowl holding them is a calabash cut in half and cleaned a a part of our summer camp, led by my lovely wife, Shelli.
As blueberry farmer Jim says back in my home state, "It's just another Ho-Hum Day in Paradise!"
As predicted, Martha the ewe had two new twin lambs. What was really cool was the births were at night, under the full moon last week. Now she is hanging out with the last ewe that gave birth a week before, in a kind of sheep daycare. For now, they have no interest in following the herd. Both mothers are getting extra moringa to fortify milk, and are doing an excellent job with their young ones! Congratulations Martha!
I love hanging out with them... who wouldn't? They lambs are so adorable as you can see them learning every second about their new world. These are actually very trustworthy. Last week's mother's lambs won't let me close. These, however, let me hold them gently to see their gender, until mother got nervous and made a sheepy grunt. They seemed to get the message. She'll tolerate me because I bring them water and extra feed but after that she's unsure. At least unsure enough to keep her kids close!
It's such a magical feeling to hang out with these mothers and their baby lambs. If we had newborn lambs every day, it would sure add something to the farm tours and farm stays!
Are their any ideas out there for some moon-themed names for the lambs?
The other day we had one of our Crucian White ewes (female adult sheep) give birth to some twins (obviously not identical).
This was encouraging as we have been working to continually improve our herd. For our last Guest Chef Slow Down donation dinner last week, we featured two young rams that were getting to the age where they might start getting interested in their sisters in the herd. Genetics are very important, and preventing inbreeding is key.
Some mothers are better than others. We have seen some of the goats, for example, reject their young and refuse to milk them. So far, all of our sheep mamas are doing a great job. During this time they find some space away from the herd. If a sheep is away from the herd, chances are that sheep is either sick or giving birth. We are rejoicing in having new life on the farm. These animals that we love so much really make the farm complete and are a true joy to witness.
Do you have any suggestions for names for these two young ones? Let us know! You can fill out the comment box below with suggestions!