Lambs & More

The current Covid situation means I’m home full-time for lambing for the first time ever. That’s one of a couple silver linings. There are also many depressing aspects to the stay-at-home quarantine. I try to keep from thinking too much about those. Dwelling on what we can’t control isn’t very good for the soul. Most days I can keep from succumbing. Cloudy, wet, cool days when I can be too much in my head… maybe not so much. We’ve already determined ‘in my head’ is not a good place for me to hang out.

Which is why it’s a good thing I have the dogs and livestock to occupy me even in those moments when I don’t feel up to being occupied.

This little guy was one of a pair born to a first time mom. She’s being really good with his brother but, as sometimes happens with first timers, she didn’t realize they were both hers to raise. I’m calling him Pita, even though he’s really not. He took to the bottle straight away and is doing really well with a minimal amount of fuss.
And even though I don’t often name lambs, though other people have been known to name them for me, this duo were the first to arrive and demanded to be called Salt & Pepper. If any lamb is going to cause problems, it is one of them. They’ve already caused me to put up additional fencing to keep them in the maternity ward.
This is the second year I’ve used Cello, a Barbados ram, and I love not only the personality of the lambs, but the coloring — getting both brown and white Barb marked lambs.

Then we have a bunch of red babies, with or without white, and two solid browns courtesy of our solid brown ewe.

We’re down to just two more ewes left to lamb. Despite the issues that can crop up, lambing is one of my favorite times of the year. Mainly because there is no greater stress reliever than watching a bunch of lambs playing. The next nice day we get, I’m going to plant myself in a chair to just sit and watch their antics. I plan on taking Finn with me so he can learn how to relax a bit around livestock.

Finn gives ‘intensity’ a whole new definition. Let’s see, there are the sheep, of course, the chickens, Rebel Kitten, and, apparently, trimming trees. Something we discovered the day we took the clipper along on our daily walk-about to trim some of the branches hanging in the trail.

Finn was quite obsessed with the whole routine and would happily gather up all the branches, no matter their size.

He also attempted to bite off some of the tiny saplings we were thinning out. I’m not sure he believed Dave was doing it correctly.

I have to say, Finn is a pretty cool dog and I can’t thank Becky enough for giving me this opportunity. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of pushing a young dog as driven and as mentally strong as Finn is. Thankfully I have a friend and mentor whose opinion I value greatly to remind me how young Finn is and how unwise that would be. Finn has shown me what he has to offer, it’s up to me to take the time to develop that potential. Taking time means putting in the time on the groundwork. You can’t build a very good house on a shaky foundation. A lesson you think I would have learned by now.

As far as Jig and Dillon, we haven’t gotten in too much training over the past week, mainly due to a strong, cold wind off the lake. Makes being out in the field just this side of miserable even when the sun is shining. Hopefully Spring settles in soon. If I have to be home 24/7 I’d like to be able to work my dogs, even if I can’t be doing it in the company of the folks I most enjoy.

Out of Hibernation… Sort Of

Usually around this time of year I’m starting up the blog after the winter hiatus, bombarding you with pictures of lambs cavorting, and laying out my training/trialing plans for the year. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating. With any of it. I know other areas of the country are worse off. It’s hard to take solace from that, however, when, as I write this, it’s snowing. Again.

Lounging on the couch is all well and good when we’re under-the-weather,
pun intended, but we’ve had enough downtime.

We do have lambs on the ground, but there is very little cavorting taking place. Except inside, around the feed bunk and the other sheep, and occasionally around the hay bales when the little reprobates sneak out during feeding. Some of the lambs have taken to cozying up to the trough when mom is otherwise occupied, probably because we still have the tank heater in.

I warned Rebel to watch his balance. Just because the tank heater is in,
doesn’t mean the trough is a hot tub.


The chickens, on the other hand, have decided their warm, cozy coop
isn’t near as nice a roosting spot as the bottom barn rail.


Not only do the chickens not roost in their coop, they don’t lay their eggs in the nest boxes. Currently they have a spot behind the bales which makes me glad I’m still somewhat flexible and provides motivation to continue practicing yoga. They’ve also made a few nests on top of the hay, and in a corner behind a feed bin. It wouldn’t be as bad if they all picked the same nest. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It’s like a never-ending egg hunt. Rather like our never-ending winter and only slightly less annoying.

I wish I would have had my phone on me the day I found Rebel Kitten on one of the bales with an egg nestled between his paws. I’m not certain what he was going to do with it, but he looked a bit put out when I confiscated it.

Speaking of Rebel, he isn’t such a kitten any more and really turned out to be quite a nice cat. I say it like that because that outcome was questionable when he was younger. There were times the only way I could catch him was to put on a thick leather glove and show him my hand. He’d latch on like a tiger on the haunch of its prey, all fangs and claws, and I’d lift him off the ground. Now he only uses his claws when he wants to be on my shoulder, and then its just a gentle request to be hoisted up. The cat loves to be up high.


Rebel doing his impersonation of
Snoopy impersonating a vulture.


On the training and trialing front… not much going on. There were a few days we were able to work, but not with any consistency. I can only hope we get a day or two in before our first trial which just happens to be in Iowa at the end of the month. They’ve been getting more snow than us. I’m thinking I may have to pack snowshoes.

Never a Dull Moment

It’s been a moderately eventful week here at the farm. It all started on the 26th with the very early arrival of twin ram lambs. We aren’t scheduled to start lambing until this week, and the ewe that lambed didn’t even appear bred. She also didn’t have any bag to speak of. Yet, there they were, two tiny ram lambs. And there she was, no milk, first time mom, wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. Ol’ softy that I am, I bundled up the boys and relocated them to the laundry room without much hope of their survival. One of them especially, the red one dubbed Crybaby, wasn’t even able to stand, and I’m pretty certain neither of them could see yet.

Their first milestone was living through the day. The next was surviving for 2 days. I had to enlist the aid of friends and family to feed them those first couple of days, since missing work wasn’t an option. The white one, named Linus by my great-niece (also responsible for Crybaby’s moniker), took to the bottle right off. Crybaby… not so much. I did convince him, however, to drink from a bowl. He wasn’t the best at it, but must have been getting enough that way because he started getting stronger and surprised me by finding his legs.

By the end of the week, both boys were happily taking their bottles and this weekend, they reached their 1 week milestone and even got to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine.

Linus & Crybaby getting some outdoor time.

It amazes me every day that they’re still alive. I’ve never had the best of luck with bottle babies.

On Saturday went to pick up these fine girls, having decided that farm fresh eggs is the way to go this year. (And to give the Hubs even more to do once he retires.)

According to a friend of mine, they are now Poker, Henny-Penny, Chicken Little, and Camilla. Don’t ask me who’s who, I didn’t name them.

We got our first two eggs, one yesterday and one this morning. They are… tiny. Never having had chickens, I did a little research and discovered what we currently have are called Pullet Eggs and are, by some reports, even more delicious than regular eggs. We shall see.

And, of course, Rebel had to check out the newcomers. I was a bit concerned he might think of them as a food source, but he seems content to leave them be.

On the topic of Rebel Kitten, if you haven’t seen the video of him disrupting my last training session with Jig, I’ve posted it below. It makes me laugh every time. I truly do not understand their relationship. Jig isn’t the friendliest of dogs. If you’ve read my blog before you might recall she truly wanted to eat Dillon when he was a puppy. There are times she still considers it as an option. Yet she and Rebel play and tussle all the time with no hard feelings. The Hubs claims it’s because, in his words, “They’re both psycho.”

He may have a point.

They also both feel responsible for keeping an eye on everything stock related and take offense to things going otherwise than they feel is right.

Here Rebel Kitten, Barn Cat Extraordinaire, is having a word with one of the calves.

I’m certain to be regaling you with cute lamb pics in my next post, and I’ll get more training related subjects going again because Jig is really benefiting from having her own calves to work and it’s awesome.

For now, I leave you with an example of how we handle distraction training here on the farm.

I’m sorry, I just find it impossible to watch that without laughing.

It’s That Time of Year

Yup. Now’s the time I bore delight you with far too many numerous adorkable lamb pics. So far we have 4 sets of twins, with ram lambs outnumbering ewes at 5-3. I’m hoping that turns around and we don’t have Year of the Ram. Pretty pleased so far with the size and coloring. The Captain has done well.

Ram lamb #1. Wasn't sure if he would make it, because his mother kept pushing him away. But looks like he's doing fine, even if she does like his sister better.

Ram lamb #1. Wasn’t sure if he would make it, because his mother kept pushing him away. But looks like he’s doing fine, even if she does like his sister better.


Mom, with his sister.

Mom, with his sister. For  awhile the ram lamb had to use his sister as a shield any time he wanted to nurse.


Our second set of twins. The larger one is the ram, the smaller one is the ewe.


The ram lamb making kissy face with one of the yearlings.

The ram lamb making kissy face with one of the yearlings.


Speed's twin boys, grandsons to Mother. Some of you know her story, and how she got her name. Still, she turned out to be an excellent ewe.

Speed’s twin boys, grandsons to Mother. Some of you know Mother’s story, and how she got her name. Still, she turned out to be an excellent ewe.


I just love the expression on this lamb's face. Not sure if this is the ram or the ewe, these two are pretty similarly marked.

I just love the expression on this lamb’s face. Not sure if this is the ram or the ewe, these two are pretty similarly marked.


Out Like a Lamb…

I go into lambing each year with a mix of anticipation and dread. Lambs, like puppies, are adorable. I can watch their antics for hours. Once they start to discover their legs and each other, they begin hopping about like popcorn and organizing lamb races while the adults eat. Such displays can pull a smile and laugh out of me even on my most frustrating day.

It’s tempered by the complications and unknowns that can arise. Some years are worse than others in that department, but a big part of the reason I chose Katahdins was their ability to pasture lamb with little to no interference from me, and without the need for lambing jugs. Yes, I’ve had to step in from time-to-time and, yes, the occasional ewe will find herself confined for a bit if I think she needs help or her lambs don’t appear as thrifty as I like. Overall, however, they need to be able to handle things because I can’t be there 24/7.

We’re lambing later than usual this year. Normally, I’m about done by now. Yesterday we had our first lambs. A set of nice twins, one ram, one ewe. This is the ewe lamb…


…all legs and a healthy set of lungs anytime mom strays too far.

I’m fairly certain when I get home today there will be others. Several of my ewes are looking quite wide. This is the first group of lambs from Captain Jack, and I’m anxious to see what he produces.

Yesterday, I also decided it was time to let Grady and Dillon have a bit more play time. Dillon’s been a holy terror to poor Rowan. He really needs to expend some energy with someone who can take his brand of rough-housing. He’s finally big enough that I feel safer allowing him and Grady to engage in a more lively manner, and Grady, for all his size, really is a gentle soul.

Grady also thinks the boy might be a bit odd. After all, who fights with a weed?

He does, however, think the boy might be a bit odd. After all, who fights with a weed?



It took Dillon a while to find his courage, and he spent some time stalking Grady before launching the attack.


And Grady 'falls down' so Dillon can have a bit of fun pouncing on him.

Grady crumpled under the vicious assault, and Dillon took advantage of it by pouncing on his fierce foe.

It was a short play session, but it certainly helped get some of the piss and vinegar out of the pup. Now, if only I could convince Jig he’s not for eating…


A Passal of Warm Fuzzies

As usual, it’s been a while since my last post. But as I mentioned before, not a whole lot goes on around here during the winter. With spring comes lambing season, although mine began as somewhat of a surprise a couple weeks ago. No one looked even close and I wasn’t expecting lambs until… well, now. It hasn’t been the best. In fact, it goes down in my books as the worst. But, on the bright side… there’s these…

"We can dance if we want to! We can leave your friends behind. Cause your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance, they're no friends of mine."

“We can dance if we want to! We can leave your friends behind. Cause your friends don’t dance, and if they don’t dance, well they’re no friends of mine.”


When mom’s busy, your sister’s ear apparently acts as a fine pacifier.


Lamb levitation.


Puppy? Lamb?


I have some lambs with attitude this year. I call her Queen of All I See.


And this is Mr. I Think My Shit Don’t Stink. (But he is quite handsome. Just don’t tell him I said so.)


“Look, I can touch my ear with my toe and not tip over!”


“Who wants a ride in the rocking tub?”


My photographic efforts were being met with a bit of suspicion.


“Why is she laying on the ground with that thing stuck on her face?” “I don’t know, but I suggest we back away slowly… “


Trouble in the making.