Lamb Stories, 1999.
1999 was a big year for hand-raising lambs on this farm. The first twins to be born in that season seemed not to be doing too well; they were obviously hungry and not growing very fast. Being a bit of a softy and having enjoyed Damian’s upbringing so much, I decided that in order to grow two decent lambs from this pair, one of them needed to be fed by me, so that the other lamb could get sufficient milk. I decided the smaller of the two would be my target and then discovered that even in a malnourished state, lambs can still run awfully fast! Three days later we were to go to Auckland to see what market there might be for firewood, so naturally took small lamb with us. Along the way we met up with some French tourists, who were enchanted with our woolly child and told of a popular French children’s book about a lamb named Babette. Thus Babette was named in the Whangarei information and rest area, in the middle of the night. She was a huge hit at the Avondale market; if we’d charged people for petting time, we’d have made a great deal more than we did for selling firewood!
Babette a few weeks later.
When we returned from our Auckland trip, we discovered two more lambs in need of assistance. Their mother had died during the night we were away. So now there were three. The new ewe became Yvette and her brother didn’t get a name except for being referred to as “the boy”. Getting emotionally attached to him would be a road to nowhere.
This is Yvette.
She was the cutest animal I’ve ever seen. Stephan said she was very much like the Romney/English Leicester cross lambs he used to breed, so presumably she took after that side of her family. Her brother was just an ordinary woolly Romney lamb.
And then there was yet another lamb, another small twin, with sadly inflamed eyes from having turned-in lower eyelids, thus she was easier to catch, being almost blind on one side. A poor sight to behold. She gradually came right once she’d had a few good feeds and her eyes were attended to. (The lower eyelid folds inwards, presumably a hereditary fault, so that the hair/wool irritates the eye and unless remedied will cause ulceration. The problem can usually be spotted from afar because of the amount of tears discharged from the eye, running down that side of the face.)
Then, as if there weren’t enough babes to feed, we were landed with Mint. Mint and Sauce were orphans from Long Bay. Sauce didn’t survive and we inherited Mint who became Minty, because her colouring reminds me of after dinner mints.
Obviously not a lamb picture!
The incidence of lambs that couldn’t be adequately fed by their mothers, prompted us to start culling out those poorer ewes. So we’ve weighed the sheep and lambs for the last couple of years to establish which ewes weren’t raising their lambs well and we hope that we have now eliminated any of the sheep that simply couldn’t do what they were supposed to.