After researching, planning, mapping, & costing out how we wanted to set up the hop yard this weekend we started executing our plans. Hops need lots of water but don’t like “wet feet”, so they grow best in well drained soils. Since ours is pretty dense and the pastures haven’t been well tended for who knows how many years prior to our purchase of the farm, we’re going to bring in sand as well as till in compost.
So we mapped out the yard, putting flags to mark the windrows and get a sense of how it will feel. This also let us confirm how much space we have remaining and make sure there is enough room to move our tractor around and in between the rows.
As we walked out to the pasture to move the sheep off of it and mark it out, we noticed that another lamb had been born.
Our second lamb; we tried to carefully usher baby & mama into the small barn pen that we had set up. This is for a few reasons: to let mama & baby bond without being bothered by the rest of the herd, to keep baby out of the elements a bit while gaining strength in the first few days, so that it’s easy for us to keep an eye on them, and lastly so we can vaccinate both and ear tag babies. Although our plan had been to vaccinate the mamas within 3-4 weeks of giving birth, it just didn’t happen in time. So we shifted to a post-birth vaccination plan which may work out better as we can check on the mamas to make sure their milk is flowing and their hooves are good. We also iodine the umbilical cord on the lambs to protect from infection, ear tag them, and take note of which numbers go to which mamas.
You can tell by looking which lamb is which at our small scale, but it’s important to keep good records so we note: birth date, gender, mama’s ear tag number, and date of vaccinations.
By the next day, it was clear that baby boy wasn’t doing well. He wasn’t standing up much & mama seemed very agitated – he wasn’t keeping up with her. At one point he made it behind the barn & essentially ran out of energy – laying down while mama frantically tried to get to him.
It was clear that with cold temps coming that night he was unlikely to make it unless we stepped in. First we tried getting mama & baby together physically to see if he could nurse. Even when trying to put him right up to her he wasn’t strong enough to suck and was shaking due to being cold. T ran down to TSC to get bottle feeding supplies – formula, bottle, & nipple. I prepped a place for him in the house – fortunately we had an extra dog crate (which has come in handy over the years – last year it was where we started our chicks) so I set that up in the entry. This way we could keep a close eye on him and also Simcoe can’t get to him while he recovers.
We got him warm by the fire, bottle fed him, and got him set up with towels for warmth and a bit of water if he needs it. We’ll see how this goes – the hope is he’ll be strong enough to go back outside soon to be reunited with his mama.