Monday, 24 March 2008

Five minutes peace

I can't believe how tired I am, and lambing has only started and there are just a couple of dozen ewes to deal with; how friends with 500 manage, I can't even start to imagine. Either way, you're in and out of the lambing shed like some crazed self-winding clockwork toy, checking behaviour, changes in eating patterns, signs of water bags, general atmosphere, and topping up one set of triplets with bottled milk as their first time mum hasn't really got enough of her own. Neither me nor far more experienced farmers I know have ever come across a first-timer having triplets - what was she thinking? Luckily the lambs are evenly sized and full of energy and survival instinct, so no larger bully is benefiting over the others.
Mini and major dramas are enacting themselves all over the place. The first batch of incubated goose eggs are starting to pip, so I am hoping there may be goslings under the heat lamp in a couple of days. One of the geese is sitting on her own full nest, au naturale, as proud and protective as can be. An Aylesbury duck suffered from a prolapse of the oviduct, so she has been dispatched, plucked and is in the freezer, my clean lambing Dickies boilersuit now covered in white down. A ewe gave up trying to lamb after some sterling effort, and intervention brought out one malformed lamb that had blocked the cervix causing another perfectly good lamb to die, leaving the mum with one good healthy ram (this run of triplets is ridiculous - that's three sets so far). Saddest of all, the matriarch, Mrs Longtail, succumbed to pasteurellosis, something the flock had never suffered from until last year when two ewes were also lost to it in the final stages of pregnancy. They are all vaccinated against this lethal pneumonia, have been well fed and are in a well ventilated barn, but you can't avoid the inevitable stress to the body caused by lambing or stop cold windy weather. I'll have to discuss future planning with the vet.
My old cat is getting scrawnier, but still eating, drinking, purring, strolling, mock-hunting, and as you can see, happy to share a bed with Mopsa on a filthy welly-boot dirt strewn kitchen floor. And I am off to check on the ewes, again.

11 comments:

colouritgreen said...

I have been trying to get some experience with lambing with a neighbours flock (the blighters managed this year unaided so no experience for me!) but they had a first timer have triplets last year - one died at/before birth.
This year the same ewe had triplets again (unaided) so I'm thinking maybe she is just 'made that way'? maybe yours will have triplets next year?
The ewe is happily managing to feed her trips ok - but the singles in the same flock are much larger.

paula said...

I'm so sorry about Mrs Longtail. Hopefully the run of triplets will cease and give you a slight breather on the maintenance front.
I'm on the look out for mastitis what with the cold wind, unpredictable weather and my usual doubles having singles with an over abundant milk supply.
Keep warm and well fed. Power nap as much as possible.

Mopsa said...

CIG - that's interesting - thank goodness I'm not the only one!

Paula - yet another set of triplets last night...there's something in the air! What with you with too much milk and me probably with too little, it's all a bit daft this year. Third of the way through now - Easter has gone by in a flash.

Manic Mother Of Five said...

Hey Mopsa, hope you manage to snatch a few minutes to stare at your screen...... Can only imagine the tiredness - it's not like they can tell you how far along they are. Photo on earlier post of the triplets were adorable. Am sure I would be far too sentimental to be a farmer and I love they way you write about it - matter of fact without being dispassionate...

Haven't been by for a while, have thoroughly enjoyed catching up.

Take care MMoF x

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

A complete life in one post, Mopsa.

mountainear said...

Mopsa looks only a little bit resigned to her fate - fancy being photographed lying next to A CAT!

Winchester whisperer said...

You're clearly at the cutting edge of creation down there - very exciting!

Winchester whisperer said...

p.s. any otters yet?

Mopsa said...

MMoF - welcome back, and thank you!

Bretwalda - it feels a bit elemental at the moment!

M'ear - Mopsa is only looking sideways at me in case I have something tasty to share with her - she really doesn't mind sharing with the old cat.

WW - there MAY be otters - I haven't had time to go and look!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I am surprised you haven't tagged this post 'baleful eyes'..

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Goodness me, and I thought lambing was dramatic in "The Archers"! Lovely pic.