No jumping on the couch?
That only lasts until you have lambs.
One of our beautiful ewes had an accident earlier this month and consequently, we were left with two beautiful baby lambs. Orphaned, and born by ceasearian 2 weeks too soon, these two managed to capture my heart (and that of my whole family) within minutes.
Within an hour we had them wrapped up, inside the house (and mostly on my lap), to try and give them their first feed.
That wasn’t easy at all. Their jaws were so tiny, that they couldn’t even manage to suckle a lamb teat. Instead we had to drive 18 miles to buy some baby bottles (my boys are grown), which they managed to drink from.
Lamby – the one with the brown stripe in his face – struggled very hard to suckle at first. Most feedings happened on my lap.
Shaun (named for obvious reasons), was tough right from the start.
Soon I had to divy out feeding schedules, nappy changes and bottle duty. We were up three times a night over those first few days just to make sure they were warm and not dehydrating.
I quickly learned that if you have lambs in the house (male that is), nappies are a neccesity. So off to town we went again to buy some nappies, (something I haven’t done in eight years). And they fit like a charm.
For the first ten days we managed to keep them in this crate beside the coal stove. But soon my little twin lambs realized they could hop skip and jump. I’d barely put them down after a feed and they’d be skipping after me through the kitchen to my office.
Needless to say I had to move my office to the kitchen to keep an eye on them, which has made their bond with me even stronger than ever before. They only have to hear my voice and they come running.
Just like babies we got them into a routine of feeding every three hours. But at night, after the first two weeks, they managed to hold out for seven (which at least gave this lamb mommy a little sleep).
We have them on a feed of fresh jersey milk we get from a local dairy farm and although I’ve read numerous articles about lamb formula, we decided this route would work best for us. Thus far, we’re thoroughly impressed with their growth rate and health.
In my home the kitchen is where everything happens. Especially since we’ve installed a coal stove. We’re having the coldest winter in 30 thirty years, experiencing temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can understand why. When it comes to the kitchen it’s like Switzerland. No one is allowed to bite anyone (my boys are harder at this than the animals). So that means whether you’re a Border Collie, a German Shepherd, a Bearded Dragon, Parrot, cat or lamb – NO BITING.
My husband is almost like an animal whisperer when it comes to things like this. With the lambs in their crate, he welcomed in the border collie (Bailey) and the rescue (Wendy) and introduced them. Within seconds Bailey claimed the lambs as her own. She was washing their faces, lying with them to keep them warm and completely blissfully happy.
Next, he walked to the backdoor and made chills run down my spine. Surely he wasn’t going to let 6 German Shepherds inside with 2 lambs in the house?
He did just that. They all came sniffing about to see what the fuss was about, making turns to lie with the lambs and lick their faces. Of course Bailey wasn’t very impressed, but I soon convinced her that even the best mothers need good baby sitters. So after a few growls over who the lambs belonged to, Bailey finally accepted that having six babysitters was luckier than most mothers. I only realized then that you don’t know chaos until it’s winter and all the dogs are inside fighting for the attention of the lambs. The funniest part is that they climb over everything and everyone. You might just think you’ve sat down and you’ve got a lamb on your lap, with a German Shepherd trying to give it a bath, while Wendy is begging for scratch behind her ears. All this is usually happening while the parrot is trying to immitate some sort of sound. (Most recently his vocabulary has turned to barking and bleeting like a lamb.)
I keep telling myself that.
Things I’ve learned…
Lambs imprint, just like most other animals. They believe they are what they see. In my case that’s been a problem. My lambs think they’re both human and canine, which means they sit on my lap like babies and run with the dogs to bark at the door (although bleeting doesn’t sound as ferocious).
I’ve also learned that although these little guys are tough as nails, they are terrified of vacuum cleaners. Whenever the housekeeper switches it on, they’ll run to their mama and scratch and nibble until they’re in my lap. Within seconds they’re fast asleep (feeling safe from the vacuum cleaner), although I’m clearly not comfortable.
They chase the ball…
Since they’ve turned 21 days old, we’ve taken to put them outside during the day. Don’t worry – we’re not sending them off to pasture.
Instead we’ve got a small enclosed piece of the garden which they get to explore. They also get to meet the ducks, geese and see the goats on the other side of the fence (GREAT! More imprinting coming soon).
But the best part of their day is running after Bailey. Bailey is in love with her ball. She’ll play fetch for hours on end and the fact that the lambs are chasing the border collie, doesn’t bother her in the least. They hop after her, carefree and happy and when they’re done with their play time outside, they’re back by the coal stove for a snooze.
Of course, not before they guzzle down their milk and get a nappy change.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Shaun and Lamby. It’s truly been an adventure for my family and it is going to continue to be for a while yet. I have my husband’s solemn word that they will never go to slaughter and instead we’re running an experiment on how old a sheep can become.
Who knows, perhaps these German Shepherd, Humanoid, Goat, Ball-Chasing Lambs will become older than even I.