I don’t actually know that lambikins is a real word, but I feel as if I’ve heard it somewhere. Maybe I am projecting my need for an afternoon snack on you. I’m pretty sure lambingtons are some sort of Australian dessert food. Perhaps that was what I was thinking of.
Food and snacks and Australia aside, our farm has some new babies. Tiny lambs!
Our pair of Shetland sheep, Bolverk and Inga, had twin lambs late Thursday evening. It was around 8:00 at night and we were just arriving home after a long Girl Scout meeting. Everything was dark except for our sad little porch light which barely illuminates the few steps up to the door.
I am used to hearing Bolverk bleat greetings when someone comes home, but tonight sounded a little different. I stopped midway up the porch steps and told Trevor to listen for a second. It would have been useless to look into the sheep pen around the corner because of the darkness. At first Trevor suggested the voice was Inga, who seldom makes any noise. We still don’t know her little sheep voice well because she doesn’t ever have much to say. No, this was definitely a higher-pitched voice.
I’m sure it would have been more obvious to someone who has had big births on the farm before. But this was our first time with pregnant large livestock so it took that extra minute for it all to dawn on us. ‘Oh! It might be babies!’
I ran through the house grabbing by muck boots along the way to the back door. The deck leads a few steps back down from the house to solid ground inside the sheep pen (refered to in the past as Hänsel’s fenced-in side yard). Trevor followed behind me and tossed the flashlight I completely forgot, and definitely needed, to look for potential lamb-shaped lumps.
It only took a second to find the first lamb, he was in the “alley” between our house and the Sheep Shack. He was the one making all the noise. I am positive that the confirmation of new lambs registered on my face as pure excitement because Trevor, through the window, gave me an exasperated “well, check on it and see if there are more”.
Oh, yeah. Sheep usually have twins. All I had to do was peek into the Sheep Shack to find lambikins number two. Let me tell you, sheep breeds that are smaller than the typical commercial breeds, have the cutest babies. These Shetland lambs are like miniature baby sheep. It’s too much.
So here I am, in a dark yard, holding two of the tiniest lambs in existence, trying to remember what I’m supposed to do.
Step 1: The lambs are wet– okay, dry them off so they don’t chill. Got it. In the house they went to be dried by the heater with a towel.
Step 2: Check on Mama Inga– Trev had the lamb-drying-experiment going (it was like trying to dry a soaking wet wool coat or a baby with body dreadlocks), so I went back out to check on Inga. Not much blood; good sign. Up and walking around; good, check. Crying for babies; promising sign and noted.
Once the lambs were dry, I took the twins back outside to Inga. She was very comfortable with me around to I kept the lantern feature of the flashlight on low to make sure they were nursing. The lambs made it through their first night, but I did realize that one of the lambs was not interested in nursing. We –begrudgingly– bought a $40 bucket of lamb milk replacer and the lamb has been doing well since. I reminded myself that these were free sheep, so now we have invested a whole $40 bucks into four sheep… A mere $10 per sheep, really not so bad if you think about it like that.