|One of my best helpers trying to entice a weak one to drink.|
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My little family and I took a much needed mini vacation this last week for Spring Break. The kids were off school and we just needed some "fun" time. So we got a room in sunny St. George, Utah and hopped in the truck. (I think I hear Jeff Foxworthy saying "You might be a Redneck if" the nicest, going to town vehicle is a Dodge Ram/Flat Bed!) But, that's how it is! So we loaded up for some family time. (Which by the way was enjoyed by all!) On our way home I got a phone call from my dad (the sheep rancher) asking me if I could stop by the ranch to pick up my lambs. He has been "lambing" for about 2 weeks now and had some orphan lambs for me. We were so loaded down with vacation luggage, bikes and such that we couldn't get them in that trip. But I know from experience the sooner you can get these little guys going...THE BETTER! So first chance I got, I headed out for Sanpete to get the lambs (which was this afternoon about 4:00.) When I left I debated whether to take the horse trailer or just the truck. I had settled on the trailer just because I didn't know how many dad had for me, but my Handy Husband (bless his heart) suggested I just take the truck. When I got there dad had 18 lambs ready to go. Well....18 lambs don't fit in the tool box of the truck (which sounds weird I know, but it actually works well when there are just a few.) So what did dad and I do? Gasp, we put them inside the cab of the "Redneck Going to Town Truck" otherwise known as Handy Husband's other baby! I'm thinking as I'm putting little stinky lambs on the floors of the front and back seats that he is going to kill me!! (Not really, but I'm sure that he won't be happy!) So let's just say I made a beeline straight for home to keep the damage to a minimum. (When I say damage of course I mean stinky excrement all over.) When I got home I got them out as quickly as possible, they did a pretty good job of keeping the truck clean. And Handy Husband did not "kill me", LOL! (Good thing he really loves me!) So begins this years attempt to get 18 lambs to market!
I have a pretty good mixture of lambs this year. About half of them are about 2 weeks old, the other half are a few days old and then there are two that were born just before I got there today. This business (I mean this in the literal sense of the word, I do this to make money, but I also really enjoy it!) of trying to raise lambs is not what nature intended and by all means if the lambs can stay with their moms, it is best. But these guys are orphans by some circumstance that caused it to be necessary. Yesterday when I knew I would be picking them up I prepared the "barn" otherwise known as my garage, I know, crazy that I don't have a barn, but I don't...yet! So I set up their living quarters which consist of pallets made into little stalls, equipped with heat lamps and fresh straw bedding. Now that I am their mommy. This is what has happened:
The lambs that are 2 weeks old were born to mom's who had triplets, but that as they got bigger the moms didn't have enough milk for 3, so the smallest lambs were taken off the moms and here they are. Of course they are having a hard time adjusting to this. They are used to their mom's milk, delivered at perfect temperature, at any time they felt like eating and in nature's way. So I have to give them extra attention in these first few days to make sure they learn how to suck from the bottle and that they feel loved. (Lots of feeding and rubbing going on!) I'm happy to say that they have all eaten tonight!
I have fed them 3 times since getting home at about 6:00PM. (This is just training mostly, they don't eat huge amounts that close together, but it's important to get them nursing as quickly as possible)
The ones who are a few days old are probably doing the best so far. They have all eaten well.
Then I have 3 weak ones. 2 were born today and didn't get a great start and one was just really small and weak, but I'm happy to say that with much love and attention they have all eaten! It is now 12:35AM and I'm blogging to keep myself awake! I need to go out and feed again, but I didn't want to sleep yet. Then I will wake early and feed again in the morning. (Probably at 5 AM) I know this may sound like a lot of work and crazy time spent, but they are newborns and they need intensive care for the first 24-48 hours just to make sure they know how to eat and have had enough nourishment and strength to survive! I have been doing this for many years now and have learned that great care in those early hours/days makes all the difference!