Notes from Windward: #70

Spring Sheep and Goats Update


     This update is much over due. Over the past several months our flock of sheep has undergone quite a change.

Audie at six weeks


     On April 15th, more than a month ago now, Dolly (a senior ewe) gave birth in the night to two healthy baby lambs. We think that last year's bottle fed ram Pip (short for Pipicus Lambicus) was the father. But it is hard to tell so early who the real father is.

     Dolly lost the use of half of her utter last year from mastitis. The second day after giving birth, Dolly stopped letting one of her babies feed. Theresa took it upon herself to bottle feed the lamb. Sadly, it was too late, and the lamb was simply too weak to feed. In spite of our attempt at feeding, the lamb succumbed in the afternoon on the 18th of April.

attempting to feed the bummer lamb


     It is sad to see such a great mother be unable to care for her young. I know Dolly would have taken care of both of her lambs if she was able to. But, her surviving lamb Audit (named because she was born on tax day) is doing fabulously, growing quickly, is bright and energetic, and is almost completely weaned from milk.

Dolly in the lambing jug with Audie


     Earlier in the spring season, we "invited to dinner" a ewe by the name of Pepper (Pip's mother). Pepper was pregnant and had a well formed black baby inside her. We assume that the baby was Jokers (our other yearling ram, one of Dolly's lambs born April fools day 2009)

Audie at six weeks


     We also lost our most senior ewe Pia. At twelve years old she was unable to pull off another breeding season. We used the opportunity to learn from her death, and Opalyn lead the crew in a necropsy at the place of burial. It turned out

     The situation with Pia is a door to a much broader discussion about working animals, pets, and our obligations to our best animals. I will not open that door here.

     Also, Whitey our other mature ewe was yet again not pregnant. It has been at least two years in a row that she was not impregnated. Yet, she has enjoyed the benefits of leading us to believe she is pregnant (i.e. more food, and a place in the flock). Either she is infertile, is not letting the boys mount her, or does not lift her tail up when she is being mounted. Either way she is not getting with the program. My determination is that she should be butchered this fall or possibly sooner.

     The rest of the flock is doing well. Strong and healthy, loud and playful, and with bellies full of fresh grass.



new born kids wearing their jackets


     After much anticipation we had the first of the goat births three days ago. Becca, the daughter of Jewel, successfully gave birth to three baby boys without the assistance of any humans. We are all proud of her for that. However, as a first time mom she it's unbeknownst to her that she needs to stand still to let her kids nurse.

Theresa watches the kids learn to nurse


     The babies are ridiculously cute and playful.

     For the first few days myself and others have been bringing Becca up on the milking stand and tying her feet down in order to make her let the babies feed.

Lindsay helps a kid find the teat


     We are feeding every few hours, watching to see if Becca is letting the kids nurse. She seems to be warming up to the idea, and we have moved to not taking her to the milking stand at all. We simply sit next to her and she calms down to let the babies eat.

     Yesterday I spaced out the time of feeding to over three hours, in order to see if the babies would be tenacious enough to get the milk. Due to their full-ish bellies, I suspect that the babies did milk at some point.

     Allison, Becca's sister, is in the late stages of gestation. She seems moody and hormonal, but we all love her just the same. We are looking forward to seeing her kids, and how she mothers them.

Alison looks for any left over grain


Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70