In the early hours of Sunday morning I filled the remaining empty lamb pens with ewes and their newborns.  By 5:35 a. m. we were officially "lambed out" with our last ewe, Pansy, delivering a perfect pair of Cormo ewe lambs – a perfect ending to the season.    Pansy’s twins arrived just an hour after Star had delivered a large, single ram lamb.   I had been an "lamb alert" since 10:30 p.m. Saturday night, when Star began rearranging straw and talking softly to invisible babies.  I monitored her restless pacing throughout the night and was relieved when her bellowing at 4 .am. announced that she was finally in active labor.   Out came this cute little guy, "Osh Kosh":


While I was taking a much needed nap on Saturday afternoon, friends Lee and Lisa had stopped by the barn and happened to notice that Tansy was in labor.   The timing of their visit was just right as they were able to rouse me and watch the delivery a rather large and wrinkley (but very pretty) Cormo ewe lamb.

Tansy with her new daughter:



I haven’t even named her yet, nor I have I named Pansy’s ewes.  A sure sign of waning energy.  We’ve had 40 lambs in 19 days.  I’m fried.  Will have to give some thought to those names, since those gals will definitely be "keepers".  In case you haven’t noticed,  every lamb receives a name and our theme this year is US towns and cities. 

The  ’07 lamb roster reads:  Arcadia, Aspen, Denver, Nashville, Memphis, Augusta, Jackson, Leucadia, Savannah, Chester, Duluth, Bismarck, Florence, Galveston, Barnstead, Quincy, Shelburne, Colrain, Troy, Lansing, Boise, Orlando, Helena, Paonia, Flint, Sedona, Reno, Vegas, Nome, Laguna, Casper, Boulder, Topeka, Topanga, Pheonix, Tupelo and Osh Kosh.  Finding names for ewes has been a little more challenging than naming the rams.  So I will let you know what I decide for the last group of Cormo ewe-lings.    Any ideas?

"Lambing out" brings a tremendous feeling of relief and satisfaction.   Assisting the ewes with birthing is labor intensive.  Each arrival  means an additional pen to feed, water, clean, monitor, etc.   Countless barn hours at unpredictable times really add to the fatigue factor.  I’ve been really lucky to have such great back-up from my husband Mike and so many supportive friends who have stopped in to help, bring coffee, food, good company.

The work doesn’t end here –  it  morphs into the process of caretaking for a tender, young flock.   The lambs change daily and watching them explore the barn (and hopefully the  pastures soon, weather permitting) is fun.  And  fascinating. 

Since we are expecting another round of Cormo lambs in June, we’re not really done for the year, just for now.  When those lambs come, I’ll be ready. . .

116_1646  The "lamb cam".

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Good news, more ewes!


Just after dinner we welcomed Cormo ewe lambs Tupelo and Pheonix, courtesy of Buttercup, a veteran ewe.   The new arrivals bring our lamb tally to 36 with the count of 21 ewes, 15 rams.  Last year we were way up on the ram-lamb numbers.     I am naturally pleased with this reversal.


Our guardian llama Crackerjack inspects the newcomers.  He was resting in the center pen just  feet away from Buttercup while she delivered.   He followed as I led Buttercup and her lambs to  a jug (a small bonding pen for ewes and their newborns) and then remained just outside the jug where he could quietly observe.  His watchful presence where most needed, outside the pen of the most vulnerable members of the flock, is reassuring.  He has done an amazing job, especially considering  that this is his first season in the birthing barn with the ewes.  


Maia’s ewe lambs, born yesterday,  are looking perky.  Compare this image to yesterday’s shot of the same lambs – and you will see how quickly they fill out.


Cocoa’s lambs settle in for the evening.

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Along with the snow came . . .


Less than an hour after my last post, Maia delivered two lovely ewe lambs, Topanga & Topeka.  They are Border/Blue Face Leicesters.  Maia, a first-timer, is doing fine.  She politely stomped her hoof when I offered to help towel off the lambs, so I’m gladly  letting her take care of business.  Much better that way.

I knew it would take a snow storm to coax a handful of deliveries.  At least one other ewe has "the look", so I suspect I will be busy in the barn this afternoon.

In another corner of the barn:


Soccer practice

Note:  Thank you to Marcy for help in displaying photos in a larger format.

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The Sweaters


Many of you have commented on "the sweaters"  worn by Nike’s lambs who were birthed early one cold, raw morning nearly two weeks ago.   A first-time mother, Nike was slow in cleaning up her newborn lambs.  In the cold of the barn, they quickly began losing body heat.  Seeing that they were too cold to nurse,I  finished towelling them off and slipped them into two "lamb sweaters"  I had  created last year  from the sleeves of the  sweater I was wearing at the time when two lambs born under similar conditions. 

Maybe patterns for handknit lamb sweaters will be future project.  It wouldn’t be too hard, just a sleeve with ribbing for the neck, a rolled hem, a couple of buttonholes in the right place for legs . . . maybe SOMEONE can help me figure out the details for cables and color work?

Thanks to everyone who has commented on the blog.  It’s really nice hearing from you all at a time when it’s very hard to get away from the barn for anything.   I’m really looking forward to seeing you all at spring shows and also our flock’s tenth anniversary celebration on June 16.  I have posted details on my events page at

Here are some scenes from this morning’s chores:


Lambs racing from the creep.


Close encounter with Memphis, Cormo ewe lamb.

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Bottle Baby


About an hour from now, I will heat a bottle of lamb milk replacer and head out to the barn to feed a hungry lamb.  I do this four or five times each day.

Nike, rookie Border Leicester mother of twins, is lactation challenged.  While her ewe lamb Augusta appears well-fed, Jackson, her smaller ram lamb simply isn’t getting enough to eat.  He complains about this quite loudly.  I can hear his pitiful wail over the baby monitor and can distinguish his cry from among the 32 lamb voices now in the barn.   

Nike is motherly in every other way, and I am not holding  her inadequate milk supply against her.     Let’s face it, breast feeding is not for everyone.  And to the best of my knowledge, there is no La Leche League for sheep. 

115_1547   Jackson will soon need a larger size sweater.


The arrival of a mysterious object caused quite a stir in the creep this afternoon.

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Lamb Creep

This afternoon "the creep" was a happening spot for the lambs who arrived about ten days ago.  A creep is a special pen which allows lambs access via a "creep panel" or gate with slots through which they must walk or creep.    The slots are too small for the mothers to follow, but they try anyway.  Inside the creep – a  self-service grain buffet for lambies.   

We supplement the lambs’ diet with grain until the pastures green up.  It doesn’t take them long to take a nibble.  Once they’ve caught on, they really like the idea that they can help themselves to a snack at any time.   Because it’s always there, they do not over-eat. 

The creep quickly becomes a social scene for the older lambs.  They eat, hang out, practice head-butts, ninja kicks, high jumps.  Sometimes they have a slumber party.  The "no-grown-ups allowed" aspect really seems to appeal to them. 

Here’s some creep action from this afternoon.  The blue box holds the grain.  Some of the oldest lambs are eating in the forground, with two shy newcomers in the upper right.


(Click image to enlarge)

In this shot, two lambs are about to enter through the creep gate in the background, while the straw bales provide entertainment for the lambs up front.  One lamb appears to be scaling the feeder.


(click images to enlarge)




115_1524             This hungry gal is trying to get mother on her feet so she can nurse.  Maybe she hasn’t yet discovered the creep.

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Lamb Art


Cocoa,  flock matriarch and one of our original sheep, surprised us with triplets on Sunday (thanks to an unauthorized visit from cormo ram Trumpet last November).  Here are her little ones:  Helena, Orlando and Paonia.  The wild-looking harlequin fleeces are Cocoa’s signature.   I think of them as lamb art.  They are pretty intense. 

She delivered all three without a bit of assistance and, true to Cocoa-form, is handling everything like a pro.   Not bad for a ten-year-old ewe! 

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Lambing 2007: Round One

114_1450For the past seven nights,  I’ve fallen asleep to the sound of the ewe flock’s rumination and quiet evening sheep banter.  My ear is carefully tuned to the baby monitor and, no matter how tired I am, the slightest blip in the barn hum awakens me.  I spend the next several moments listening.      Sounds of hoof scraping the barn floor, heavy breathing, straining, pushing are all give-aways that lambs are soon to follow.  On nights when I’ve somehow managed to sleep through a ewe’s quiet labor, the shrill cry on a newborn lamb, followed by its mother’s snickering pulls me from bed in a flash.

With the arrival of 28 lambs in six days, I have not been getting much sleep.    What sleep I get is light and fragmented – my brain never really shuts down.   Once alerted, I estimate it takes me no more than three minutes to yank coveralls over my pj’s and head to the barn.  Sometimes, it’s a false alarm.  Without turning on the lights, I tip-toe down the east aisle of the barn only to observe a  peaceful flock.   

Last Wednesday night, after three false alarms, Ursa delivered a lovely pair of cormo-cross lambs, just as the sun began to rise over East Hill. 

The arrival and installation of my "lamb cam" last week has saved me quite a few middle of the night barn trips.  Instead of levitating out of bed and dashing to the barn at every sound, I  now turn to the monitor to see if there’s any action.  It almost feels like cheating.   

Here  are some shots of our earliest arrivals:


Our llama, Crackerjack inspects the first lamb to arrive.  Does that Border Leicester lamb have one black leg??

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