20th April, 2012: So we have 15 lambs in all, 5 Blue-faced Leicester (3 boys and 2 girls) and 10 Gotland (2 boys and 8 girls), which is pretty pleasing. We lost just one, which was the second to be born but was not coming out without help. By the time we managed to extract him, it was too late, but his mum seemed OK as she already had one little ewe, Misty (see below for more on her!).
Here are pictures of the heads of 3 ram lambs, held by Kay Walker who lookers my sheep for me when I am away. The left-hand one is pure Gotland, the middle one is BFL ram on Gotland ewe and the right-hand one is pure Blue-faced Leicester.
The cross-bred lambs are interesting: they have a dark/grey/black fleece (Gotland) but with BFL crimp (so far) and they have more Gotland heads than BFL, lacking the highly ridged nose shape, but they do have BFL-style ears. They also have the white "tear" marks below the eyes like the BFLs and also the Gotland white chins! They are larger than Gotlands but not as big as the increasingly beefy BFL lambs, which are now nearly as big as the smaller Gotland ewe lambs, and certainly will look larger in comparison once we shear later this week - if Gideon is free ....
As the two cross-bred were boys, I have castrated them so I can see progress and preserve the wool quality for a longer time, so we shall watch this space! This does mean that their head shape will remain more lamb- or ewe- like and will not develop into a battering-ram style! Interesting - another word with a sheep origin!
I was also interested to discover that, of course, the word bummer comes from the sheep world too. Those greedy lambs who sneak up behind ewes to grab some milk from the back, rather than from the front under the leg, are called bummer lambs because they are bumming a free ration!
I missed taking some lovely shots this last sunny weekend but will keep the camera handy as they are all beginning to look really nice. The extremely wet drought we have been having has of course taken its toll on feet and several limps have developed in young and old alike so I am setting up the foot bath to disinfect them as they come in from the field. This is always entertaining as sheep are not fond of walking through water though the ewes, rams and wethers understand that the reward will be food. Lambs are not so easy to convince and it usually takes a little while for them to decide they can manage it ...
Now to Misty! She has a triangular white patch on her head (most of them have few head markings this year) and also white patches on her ears. Her mother is Sylvia, who is pale coloured and also has white on her head. She was born on 1st April. After about a week, she seemed to be limping badly but there was nothing visibly wrong and no heat in the joints and she was just running around with her left front leg up all the time. After trying a bit of anti-bacterial spray there was no improvement so I took her to the vet. Taking a lamb to the vet is always fun as they attract a fair bit of attention in the waiting room, but if draped across a knee they generally dose off gently. Anyway we decided there was still nothing visible and no sign of a break, which is what I had feared, so after a further anti-biotic and anti-inflamatory injection (as a pain killer) we went home to an anxious mum. Since then, to my surprise, I am an adopted parent! She rushes to meet me and wants lots of cuddles and eats from her own special plate (my hand) or a bucket. Her mother, who was always tame, is also puzzled by this though willing to join in any extra rations if possible. Misty is still not quite right so I suspect there may have been a break and she will probably have an inwardly bowed front leg, but she is fine and gorwing well. Her photograph will appear in due course!