Lulu's daughter, who was the mother of last year's bottle-lamb, had twin ewes this morning and appears to be doing the same as last year - rejecting one of them. The out-of-favour lamb has been able to sneak in for several feeds during the day, but if her mother notices her there, she pushes her away violently. If the lamb calls for her mother, the ewe ignores her - she obviously recognises the lamb as hers, but refuses to take care of her. I keep finding the lamb, far away from the ewe, calling pitifully. I'll see how things are tomorrow, but it looks like I may have another baby to raise.
At about 11.30 last night, I went for a last look at the sheep, having heard again the abandoned and lost lamb bleating. I could see the ewe above with new lambs and as I watched, she dropped number three on the ground! This is the first set of triplets I've seen, so I think they're wonderful. They're quite as big as some of the twin lambs. Ewes have two teats, and this ewe is one of the daughters of a ram which left little milk production in his progeny, so I'll take one of the two ewe lambs to raise with the other two I already have, but not for several hours, during which they need to get as much colostrum from the ewe as possible.
Here's one-day-old Dotty, the lamb rejected by her silly mother. She has little black dots all over her body, very cute.
I walked up the hill over the road this afternoon, to check on the heifers and discovered that #352's udder has developed significantly and her pelvis has begun to open up, as happens as the time for calving approaches. I decided to bring them off the hill, just in case she was closer to calving than I had previously expected.
As well as udder tightness which is usually (but not always) an accurate indicator, I watch this area of the body of my cattle as they get closer to calving. The tail head gets very prominent, and hollows appear in the area of the rump indicated, the whole back end of the animal appears very "loose".
The choice of which triplet lamb to take away from her mother became obvious when I went for a walk in the evening. One of the ewe lambs was collapsed on the ground, unable to walk. We tried catching her mother to milk her for some colostrum, but would have caused such disturbance in doing so that we stopped running about. Having checked on the triplets several times during the day and having seen them all up and lively, I assumed that the weak one would at some point have fed. So we took her inside and I spent several hours warming her and eventually encouraged her to take some milk from a bottle.
This morning I weighed all the cows and then sent them next door for the day, to "tidy up" for Jane, (tomorrow they'll come back for their Liver Fluke treatment). I then weighed the heifers so that Stephan and I could give them their drench as soon as he arrived home from work and afterwards sent two of them back over the road, since they're not due to calve for several weeks and the other ten have gone out onto the flats so I can check them easily and often.
The triplet lamb was surprisingly still alive this morning and improved during the day. Here they are in their pen by the fire late this evening, Tabitha up on the block, and Dotty and the triplet, below.
Today is a special day, being Abigail's second birthday. The 11th of September 2001 was a lovely day and Abigail's early arrival, a delightful surprise.
For her Birthday portrait, she posed with her Grandmother, Ivy (behind her) and mother, Isla (through the fence).
After the cows had their Liver Fluke drench, we split the mob, 12 going over the road to join the two heifers already there and the other 16 out to a paddock on the flats to await their calves' arrival. Isla is one of that mob and Abigail is with the other two young heifers who have been with Ivy for some time, ensuring they have an appropriate quantity of feed. I don't want the three heifers to get fat, but nor do I want to restrict their feed which would impact on their own growth while they're also growing their calves. Ivy has done very well over the winter without front teeth and looks beautifully smooth and rounded over her bones - much better than this time last year, when she was so thin before having the twins.
Tabitha lamb (Lulu's daughter) followed me all the way out to move the young stock from one paddock to another. She's a bit little for the huge puddles and all the mud, but made it most of the way on her own little legs.
Bottle-fed lambs are a delight, but can be a complete pain when they insist on following their "mother" everywhere. This year I've managed to train Tabitha and Dotty to stop at the gate by our house in one direction, but in the other direction is the paddock full of ewes and lambs and there's no stopping a determined lamb if she really wants to go with you!
Poor little triplet lamb was lying cold and floppy in her own wetness on the concrete this morning and failed to revive much during the day. The vet prescribed an antibiotic which I injected at noon, but she died at 5pm. She had seemed much better over the last couple of days, but not nearly as lively as an ordinarily healthy lamb.
Matilda, a ewe I bottle-fed along with Lulu in 1997, produced a ewe lamb in the afternoon. There are now only three ewes left to lamb.
We've done this, just for fun, over the last couple of years. The usual gestation period for cattle is 275 - 290 days and Isla was inseminated with the semen of N Bar Emulation EXT on 22 December last year. Her first calf, Abigail, was born a few days ealier than the expected earliest date, and her second, Amelia, towards the end of the expected period. This year, your guess is as good as mine!
And, this year, a real prize: a small trinket box, something like the one pictured below, will be crafted by Stephan, for the person submitting the closest guess. (If more than one person guesses the same closest or correct date, we will hold a draw for the prize.) You may enter once, from anywhere in the world!
The calving date will be measured in New Zealand "clock time" - if Isla calves after the beginning of Daylight Saving time (5 October), then those who decide she'll calve on the changeover date, will have only 23 hours in which to be correct! If you have a strong feeling about a particular moment in time, please take those things into consideration.
Your email address will be used only to confirm your entry to the competition, and if you win the prize, to contact you for further details. On 20 September, a list of the first names, locations and the dates entered by all entrants will be posted.