Nearly done.

It’s a week today that our lambing season began. As of this afternoon we have lambed 29 (and lost three) out of 20 ewes. Our current numbers include 8 sets of twins and 10 singles. Among the little ones are 11 pure shetlands (7 rams and 4 ewes) and 15 crossbred animals (5 rams and 10 ewes). Woodruff, our established flock sire, settled 17 ewes and Siegfried, heir apparent, settled 3. There are still 3 ewes that have yet to lamb. It was sunny today and many of the little ones tagged along as their mothers grazed, hydrated, and recovered. Being little requires a tremendous amount of work and, like all newborns, the lambs spend much of their time sleeping. Sometimes a ewe will wander off, unaware that her charge has flagged. When the lamb wakes to find its mother gone its reaction is immediate. It’ll call as loud as its lungs will allow and run, frantically, first in one direction, and then in another, and then in another, calling all the while. The very moment it sees its mother it’s off like a shot for a drink and for a bit of reassurance. The lambs are quite sociable and eager to play, even when only a day or two old. Small groups will gather and run … for no apparent reason other than that they can. Just a few moments ago Joanna and I came in from evening chores which, during lambing season, includes a final check to see that all the lambs have an ear tag. If we come upon one without a tag it means we’ve had a new arrival. We also check to see that all is well. This evening, just a few minutes before the sun settled below the horizon, the lambs were zooming back and forth with their mothers in hot pursuit. It seems the call to bed time had been issued. Joanna swears she could hear the mothers calling … if you don’t get back into bed there’s going to be trouble, and I’m not going to ask again!

16 thoughts on “Nearly done.

  1. Those lambies are so soft and cute. Do they like people giving them a cuddle?

    How enmeshed you are in the cycle of life when living on a farm.

    • All of our animals are raised on pasture and, as a result, more closely associate with other members of the flock than they do with us … as it should be. It would, I suppose, be nice to have the little ones come up for a pat. I am satisfied that I can walk within the flock without having the entire group scatter into the hills. With regard to your last observation … Joanna and I simply consider ourselves just parts of the entire endeavor. D

  2. They seem so satisfied with themselves; great photos. Your text has reminded me of how noisy a sheep pen can be … how could I have forgotten that?

    • When we gather up the ewes for shearing, their little ones are left on pasture to fend for themselves for a few hours … and boy, do we hear it then! Deafening! Thanks for the visits and the comments. D

  3. Sweet, sweet! I’ve missed dropping by. I just don’t know how you do it, Dave! You must be much more organized than I am. 🙂 I can’t keep up! Anyway, I’m happy to see this update on the lambing season and these precious faces. Isn’t it wonderful that spring is finally here! For a while there, I just thought it might never make it!

    • Hey there Lemony … glad to see your smiling face this morning among my comments. We were quite warm over the weekend and even had difficulty sleeping last night because of the dramatic change in the weather. We’ve got to put shearing to the front-of-the-list as even the sheep seemed uncomfortably warm with their full winter coats! If your upcoming weather is anything like ours, however, there is a bit of a change predicted for this week with somewhat cooler and more seasonal temperatures. The spring is so full of potential, we’re really enjoying it … even if it does hold for us the prospect of much work to come. Thanks for checking in … always anticipated and appreciated. D

  4. Now,I’m fascinated by the depth of field. I am guessing maybe you used a very narrow aperture, but maybe some digital help too? So now here’s the big question: do you offer the lambs for sale to perhaps other farms or are you growing the herd? And if, so, around what population size are you going after?

    • Ha! Leave it to you to notice and to comment. Ok. The blur in the foreground (of the image of mother and baby) is optical and dictated by the narrow depth afforded by the large aperture (and low ISO) used under those particular conditions. That in the background results from a brush layer added in Lightroom. In particular the brush lowered both the contrast and clarity … the latter being contrast in, especially, the midtones of the image. So, the foreground blur results from the physics of glass and the background blur results from digital manipulation. I thought the combined effect of both put the mother and her baby more dramatically front-and-center. What do you think? Did I over-step the bounds of proper presentation? With regard to your other question … we have a foundness for lamb and always put several wethers in the freezer for our table. One or two are always sold as Shetland breed stock. A select handful are retained as breeders on our own place, and the balance are taken to our local Livestock Auction to be sold on the open market. Remember that our flock is, first and foremost, what we call a spinner’s flock – we raise these animals, primarily, for their high quality fleeces in support of Joanna’s art of spinning and weaving. We have been raising Shetlands now for more than 20 years and our program of selective breeding has greatly improved fleece quality and our natural color palette. We try to keep our numbers low … more animals means more hay and more work and more _____ (fill in the blank). We always retain two breeding rams, 10 lambs, and between 10-15 mature ewes – so, the flock is nearly steady-state at around 25. The numbers become inflated at this time of year however. Come fall we will cull extensively to bring the numbers back to 25 for breeding next fall.Thanks for the good questions – always delighted to explain what we’re about. D

      • Fascinating! And no, the background was just right artistically. Having worked in the lab with lenses over a long time I had a feeling that some extra work was required to obtain the effect.

  5. It’s one of life’s pleasures here in England – to drive around our country lanes at this time of the year and to peek over hedgerows to see the lambs – true heralding of springtime and the new year’s rebirth.

    • Yes. My daughter is now living in Switzerland and she has commented that seeing lambs in the pastures is a sure sign of spring and makes her homesick for the farm. Thanks for checking in Jenny. D

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