Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Maaary is a little lamb...

Some lambs don't get the best start in life. These twins were the first of this year's lambs to be born. Both are ewe lambs and were born a week early (the ewes seem to have got their dates wrong this year), although they look fully 'cooked'.

The one on the left did a lot of shouting at first, so H8 and R6 named her Maaary. It turned out that Maaary was a bit of a neglected child. Poor Maaary had wandered off while the silly ewe was delivering her sister and the ewe forgot all about her first born. She refused to feed the 'interloper', so we offered bottled top-ups, but then the ewe started thumping Maaary, so she had to be removed for her own safety. She was put into a pen with another ewe who had a single lamb and tolerates a foster lamb. In fact she's a lot kinder to her than her own mother was.

My job at lambing time is that of assistant and I do the late night check so Mum can have an early night. This 11pm check now involves giving Maaary a bottle of milk, which is quite a delightful thing to do. But last night the wind was howling round the lambing shed and there was horizontal rain with sleet thrown in for good measure. All good ewes had tucked their lambs up next to them for extra warmth.

Not Maaary. She has no mum to keep her warm. I found her lying on her side, freezing cold. She refused to eat and when I popped her under the heat lamp for extra warmth she wouldn't stay put.

By that time it was 11.30pm and I couldn't find the warm lamb jacket we have for such cases so I trawled the house for a suitable substitute. I didn't think Maaary would survive last night. The night before we lost a lamb to hypothermia (again the silly ewe didn't mother it). I spent three quarters of an hour sitting rubbing that little lamb by the wood burner, willing it to live. It was an awful moment when its little lungs didn't pull in another breath and I felt the fluttering in its chest fade away. I thought when I left Maary last night that she wouldn't be alive today but she seems to be a fighter.

This was Maaary this afternoon in her unorthodox lamb jacket. Okay it's a nappy! It's a Kushies washable nappy that I used for both H8 and R6 and had been sitting in a bag waiting to be cut up for cleaning cloths. It has handy Velcro straps for fixing to a small lamb, plenty of padding and layers of soft brushed cotton for added warmth. It isn't the perfect fit, but it did the job. She's now wearing the proper lamb jacket (which was much easier to find in the daylight - ever tried finding a navy lamb jacket in the pitch dark? Next time we should buy flourescent ones!). I wouldn't say that Maaary was out of the woods yet, but she's eating again and the intervention of a nappy seems to have given her a fighting chance.

As for the rest of the lambs - I've lost count. I think that 14 have lambed out of 22, so there's eight left. We've had several sets of twins, but the last few have been singles. We've lost one and have one needing to be bottle fed. Now if someone could just kindly organise us a bit of nice, warm spring weather please...?


  1. Oh Mags, I don't think I could take the strain! Sounds heartbreaking... and a bit frustrating. Well done you coming up with such an inventive solution to keep Maaary warm.

  2. I love that lamb jacket! Inspired.

  3. Great idea for a lamb jacket - worth a letter in a farming mag. with that pic too!

  4. My girls have just oooohed and ahhed over your lambs. I love the nappy jacket. It makes a change from a nappy as a hat, quite popular as a look round here x


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