Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sweet Little Weeds

Shockingly, we have twins as of Sunday 5pm, a week earlier than I expected. And even more surprisingly, it was Daisy who lambed first. Sunday was one of our first sunny days in a long time, and warm. I noticed her lying down in mid afternoon in pasture, but wasn't concerned as she does this in warm spring days. She was soon up grazing again, and I hadn't noticed some of the more usual lambing signs - pawing at ground, up and down - so when I went to do my normal barn chores around 4:30, I couldn't believe that Daisy was lying in the lambing stall [good girl!!] in labor. I rushed back to the house shouting to all the cats that we were having babies. It was fun that Martyn was home to witness this time too, and by the time we got out there, she had one lamb. Withn 5 minutes or so, out popped lamb 2, a tiny chocolate brown/black footed lamb. Last year, I witnessed no births, but arrived for Daisy's within 20 minutes of birth. This lambing was a good experience for me, as lamb 2 came out and just lay there. Daisy was intent on licking off lamb one, a good thing, but I was worried that lamb 2 was getting no attention. I didn't want to mark my scent on it too much, but it was chilly after sun was down, so we toweled it off and made sure the membrane was off it's face, it was breathing well. We put it to Daisy's face and she started licking both. She is a good mother, and it was amazing how fast they stand. I was sure Daisy would have 3, as she stayed on the ground for a good 20 minutes after pushing lamb 2 out, and she still looked huge. But she did get up, and within 30 minutes had passed the after birth sac which I buried quickly, and well, to prevent coyotes and dogs from finding it.

Both lambs appear healthy on day 2, and I hope I can get them out in a little dry sun tomorrow. We name all the animals after plant life, and since our ram is Joe Pye Weed, the rams must be named after weeds, such as Pokeweed from last year's crop [who is now spreading his seed in southern Oregon]. However, since rams pose a dilema - you don't need more than one or two, and the reality is, many end up as meat lambs. This is a reality of raising livestock, even in small flocks. It is my biggest struggle and challenge, and I already am thinking of reasons to keep the chocolate one - who is very small and has a floppy ear so might not be good breeding stock to register and sell...He is the first lamb I actually helped out and along. And I can't help but think of him as "Daisy's son" - good grief. No, it does not help, as many suggest, to name them things like "Lambchop" - I find that cynical. Instead, both rams will be named 'Little Weed", until their true fates are known. And until that time, they will be cared for with respect, and sheltered and helped along, and I will thank them for helping maintain our pastures...Stay tuned. Rosemary is as big as a house and Feb 10 is her due time...Pray for girls.