April 5, 2012

Jefe (aka Jeff):

On April 2nd 2012 Andrew, Lindsay the rest of the interns and I were out in the garden area working on various projects when Andrew noticed some odd behavior coming from Sombrita (a 1 year old ewe).

Jeff bottle feeding Billy

Upon further investigation we realized she was having babies!! This has been a magical day in the birthing world as Dora, an 18-month female goat gave birth to 4 goat children this morning.

Sombrita with her two recently birthed lambs.

Sombrita gave birth to two lambs, one male and one female. The female, a black-coated lamb came out first with no complications. Soon after she was born, her mother began to clean her up by using her teeth to remove the lining of the water bag, which was covering the young lamb. This is the first opportunity for the ewe to bond with her child. Sombrita recognized the young lamb as hers and cared for it properly.

Billy and Mama Sombrita

The second child that Sombrita gave us was a little white lamb that we have named Billy Boo after a misunderstanding of the correct terminology for a straw (bombilla), which is used to drink the South American tea, Yerba Mate. Billy (for short) had a tough time in this new world, it was cold, he couldn’t figure out how his joints worked and his mother didn’t accept him as her own. We watched closely as the relationship unfolded, young Billy seemed to be on his own.

Once Sombrita had finished delivery of both lambs we began to move them into their temporary pen, known as a lambing jug. These jugs help with bonding and give the children a better opportunity for feeding.

Billy was not cared for by his mother.

A couple of hours after lambing time, Andrew and Lindsay noticed that Billy was still not being accepted by his mother and decided to take matters into human hands. Respecting the natural cycle of life, we do not always step in to save a baby when its mother has rejected it, but in this case we did.

Billy Boo snuggling with his warm bottle.

I was sitting on the back of my truck playing guitar in the sunset glow of the night when Lindsay asked me “Would you like to raise a lamb?”. I had never raised an animal before, had no idea of what to do. So, naturally, I said “of course”. We gathered bedding straw, a cut in half 55-gallon bucket for his crate, and some bottles, syringes and nipples for feeding through the night. We are feeding him in increments of 4 hours (8,12,4,8,12…).

The first night, I was responsible for all of the feeding and have since received some help. Waking up at midnight and again at 4am to feed him has been more enjoyable than I had imagined. Especially last night when he pooped on me shortly after waking him up. There’s nothing like waking up to give life.

Billy Boo and Jeff.

This opportunity to be a shepherd of life to this animal has already been a very rewarding and hilarious experience. I can’t wait for the adventures that lay ahead for myself, shepherd Jefe, and the ever curious, Billy Billy Boo.