Monday, May 5, 2014

little liza lamb


'Lil Liza Jane

We have five new farm flock members!  All three of our Icelandic ewes gave birth to twins last week, which caused quite a stir since we weren't planning for any lambs this spring.

{Apparently the "wethered" rams we got last year weren't entirely "wethered."}

All three little ladies delivered unassisted - Berritt's early Monday and Elli's early Wednesday, with Finn holding out on us until late Friday night.

Berrit had two ewe lambs - dubbed Oopsy and Daisy - and Elli had a ram and a ewe lamb.  Unfortunately Elli's ram lamb died before I even found it in the paddock.  Her ewe lamb is thriving however. She has one black eyebrow and after polling my Facebook friends, we're going with "Shiner."

Oopsy, Berrit's ewe lamb

We would have missed Finn's delivery entirely - probably with dire consequences - had I not been in Minneapolis for the day, returning to the farm around 11:00pm.

Earlier that day we had put Berrit and Elli and their babies and Finn, who looked like she should have delivered several days ago, into a very small electric net paddock to start teaching the babies about electric nets.

Everything on our farm moves around the pastures in electric net fences. It is very important that all of the animals learn to stay away from the fences, for their own safety.  Although touching the fence one time will merely give a little jolt, getting tangled in the fence can be lethal.

So with Berrit and Elli's babies a few days old, it was time to start their lesson.  After herding all of the ewes out of the barn and into the tiny paddock, we stood and watched them for a bit.

Sure enough, a small, curious nose soon touched the fence and the lamb quickly jumped back.  First lesson successful.

I've been told by other shepherds its better to teach lambs about fences when they are quite young, a day or two old, before they are completely boisterous and can run full-speed into the netting.

Everyone was doing fine, and I left for Minneapolis leaving Papa Bear in charge of keeping a close eye on Finn for the day.

Later in the afternoon PB texted me a photo of a little tarp shelter he put up for the ewes, since it had been raining on and off throughout the day.

tarp tent for the ewes and lambs

{Awww, ain't he sweet?}

When I got home that night, he asked if I wanted to see the lambs.  I assumed he meant Finn had delivered her babies, but he chuckled and said no, but would I like to see the ewes inside their little tarp tent?

Of course I did.

Finn with her twins - male lamb and 'lil Liza Jane

So we bundled up and went back outside.  As soon as our flashlight shone across the paddock I counted five tiny white lambs where there should have only been three.

Finn had just delivered her twins!

It was apparent that one was very small and weak.  After watching for awhile to see if mama could get it up on its feet but with no success, we decided to take it inside and get it warm.

Zoey, mama and 'lil Liza

So for the second time in a week, I found myself with a cold, wet ewe lamb on my belly.

After warming her up for awhile we brought her back outside and brought both her and Finn into the warm barn. She was still weak and could not yet stand on her own.

We went to bed around 1:00am, trusting the little lamb to fight for her life and the universe to help her make it through the night.

We figured, if she was alive in the morning, we would continue to assist her.  If not, then she was apparently too weak out of the gate.

She lived.  Not only that, but she was up walking around the next morning.

Papa Bear with Finn's male lamb

However, Finn had bonded only with her male lamb and was rejecting her daughter.  And by rejecting I mean head butting her into the walls whenever she tried to nurse.

We painted her with Finn's placenta soaked in water in hopes the scent would help her mama accept her.

We spritzed both lambs with essential oils to confuse mama's scent-based recognition.

Nothing worked.

It was evident we'd need to try to bottle feed her and get her some colostrum ASAP.

A lamb is born without any immune system at all.  The only immunity they get is from their mama via her colostrum.  Without any colostrum, she'd surely fail to thrive and probably be very sickly if she survived at all.

But of course, we didn't have any colostrum, since we hadn't been expecting any lambs this spring.

So Saturday morning was spent zipping around to everyone we knew with sheep getting lambing supplies - raw milk, colostrum, bottle nipples, lamb replacer, even a catheter and syringe in case a tube feeding was necessary.

Jersey cow's colostrum from our friend Daffodil was the best we could find on such short notice, so after warming it up I tried giving it to the little peanut in a re-purposed Diet Coke bottle with a Pritchard lamb nipple.

Papa watches Finn and her lambs in the Cheep (sheep?) Shed

To my complete amazement, after chewing on the nipple for awhile, she started sucking down the colostrum.


We are still hoping mama will accept her, but it's not likely at this point.  However, we have seen her snitching milk several times while her brother is nursing.

She is nothing if not determined.

So we continue to supplement her with raw cow's milk.

I've been taking to calling her "Little Liza," as in Nina Simone's "Little Liza Jane."  She's just a little peanut - only four pounds at birth - smaller than our Siamese kitten.

But she continues to amaze us with her will to survive, and endear us with her sheer determination.

So, 'lil Liza, welcome to the Little Farm.

Boo checks out the newest members of his flock

Oh I've got a friend in Kendall.... Little Liza Jane....
The alpacas are confused by these little white fuzzballs...  Little Liza Jane.

Cheers -
Gypsy Farmgirl writes about Little Liza Jane


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