Field of Lambs


Sheep traffic has worn a muddy line along the pasture's upper edge. I follow in their hoof steps and walk the mud-slick path each morning, inspecting the flock.  Observation: the lambs have caught on to grazing – big time.   They beat the mother's to the pasture gate and practically jump over each other in impatience as I fumble with the gate latch.  In a wooly rush, they spring out into the field.  More  confident, less dependent of their mothers, they bunch together, a mini flock within the flock, shoulder to shoulder, heads to the ground. 


Boosted by recent rains,  the pasture is getting ahead of the flock. The lambs are wading through a shoulder-high sea of green.   I notice how their bodies, sleek and sturdy, are rounding out over the last two weeks, another sign of good graze. 


Enjoying the freedom of the wide open spaces, they are still pretty interested in my comings and goings.  They will follow me out of curiousity.  If I stop to look at them more closely, they stop to inspect me. Especially the bottle lambs.


No matter how emphatically I declare that I WILL NOT raise a single lamb by hand, I invariably end up with one or two or a handful of lambs who, for one reason or another, need supplemental feeding.  Ok, I'll admit it.  I like bottle feeding lambs, and I have a good system.  I keep a blender, a mini-fridge and a small microwave oven in the "milk room" of the dairy barn.  Once a day I make enough lamb milk shakes to last through evening.  I nuke the milk just to kill the chill, and stick two nursing bottles into the pockets of my barn coat.  The bottle lambs find me, as I move about morning chores.  I feed them two at a time. Those who must wait entertain themselves by jumping on my back or chewing my hair.

I have help.  Mike is a good sport about taking the last feeding if I need to go to bed early.  Holly is great back up and never lets a lamb go hungry.  Friends stop by to pitch in.  Everyone gets a turn.


This year, it's just three bottle lambs:  Issey, who sometimes nurses from his mom but really likes to take a little more at each feeding, Calvin (pictured above) whose mother developed a mysterious aversion to him at about 2 weeks of age, and Diesel – who earlier this season spent a night with Issey in our bedroom after my botched attempt to graft Issey onto a new mother (you can read about this in an earlier post, if you missed the story).  Diesel is my most enthusiastic customer.  He's always first in line and has no patience with his half siblings getting any of his share.  It's a bit of a circus when all three lambs come at once.  Other lambs come to check it out.  They press their noses in – I give them random slurps.


First feeding is at 8 a.m.  Last Call is around 10 p.m. There won't be too many more late feedings now that they are getting bigger and eating grass and hay. I will enjoy this while it lasts.


copyright 2008 Barbara Parry, Foxfire Fiber & Designs.  All rights reserved.

Foxfire Fiber & Designs at Springdelle Farm