Saturday, March 3, 2012

One More Month!

So now is the time that I begin to turn into the anxious sheep "mother" to my pregnant girls.  One month ago, Willow's baby bump was just endearing and she was quite comfortable.
Gentle Willow with baby bump

Today, it is another story.  Willow is quite large, with the huge, final month growth spurt still to come. Her udders are bagging up with milk and her teats are swollen. She is four months into her five month gestation. The earliest she could possibly lamb is on April Fool's Day!  For her sake, I hope her lambkins arrive that week so that she doesn't just pop!

A very pregnant Willow

RosyPosy will lamb shortly after Willow.  Her udders are just starting to bag up and her teats are a little swollen.
Sweet RosyPosy

 Still uncertain as to whether Mary is pregnant or not, but time will tell.
A very wooly Mary

The ewes are now on a nutrient-rich diet.  As the lambs grow and take up space, the mothers are unable to eat much at a time.  Therefore, they are getting a good amount of grain twice a day and have been switched from timothy hay to alfalfa. The grain provides energy while the alfalfa provides calcium.

This next month will be all about preparing for lambing season.  I will be trimming the wool from around the girls behinds, as well as cutting off the lanolin-laden wool tags from around the teats.

Lanolin tags around Willow's teat.
  Newborn lambs have been known to expend all of their energy trying to nurse from tags- a potentially fatal scenario.

The old bedding will be stripped from the original shed and fresh bedding laid down, as this will become the lambing jug.  A lambing jug is just a small space where mother and babies will spend their first few days together, bonding in a calm environment. The small space also provides easier access to the lambs in order to monitor their health (easier to catch them, that is), as well as a chance to provide the mother with the exact nutrition she needs at that time.

So, one more month before a season of sleepless nights begins: checking the barn before you go to bed, checking the barn at 2:00 in the morning, checking the barn as soon as you wake in the morning....checking the barn in your dreams....
But...what a reward!
Willow and lambkins 2011

On the fiber front, I just finished spinning a skein of yarn using some merino wool dyed in an exhaust bath of lichen.

The color is a very delicate pink, one strand dyed and one strand natural.  It is really lovely!

March 18th I will be at Grailville for their women and the arts sale.  It should be great fun and will give me something else to focus on, as I am sure to be getting a bit crazy that close to lambing!