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James and Albus's untimely arrival

Posted 2/4/2009 10:15am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

We woke to several inches of snow we were not expecting this morning.  It must be a Wednesday.  Karen Sapia correctly pointed out last week that this winter we seem to be in a pattern of Wednesday snow or ice storms.  This week however our schools opened on time. 


Last Wednesday’s snow day was pretty eventful for the girls and me.  We got bundled up and went out to check and feed the sheep. Our barn is an old Pennsylvania bank barn with a large new loafing area attached to the east end.  From the haymow on the top of the bank barn we can look into the loafing shed and watch the sheep that have wandered away from the others gathered around the hayracks.  This year many of our ewes have lambed in that area and last Wednesday I noticed a ewe was in late labor while we were feeding the others.   We stood quietly and watched for almost an hour.  She would lie down and strain and push then stand up and paw at the ground.  Every now and then she looked up at us, clearly nervous that she was being watched.  Finally, chilled to the bone, we went in the house for some lunch.  When we went back out she was cleaning a set of twins.  The brown ram lamb had a big, fuzzy head – we blamed him for her difficult labor even though it was most likely our presence that kept this ewe from delivering quickly – his sister was a tiny, but vocal white lamb.  Both are growing well.  


That night it got very cold and before going to bed I suggested one of us go out to check the sheep just in case some lambs were born and separated from their moms.   I should know better by this time.  A quiet, dark, cold barn is much preferred by flighty herd animals; open a door and turn on a light and chaos breaks out. Unfortunately when Roy went out there were several newborns whose moms ran away from them.  Rather than cause more chaos Roy left them to sort out the babies.  We fully expected my ill-conceived plan might end in a couple dead lambs in the morning, but thankfully the next day all the lambs were alive and accounted for.  Whether it was our disturbing them or just bad mothering, over the course of the next day, we noticed two lambs appeared hungry and uncared for.  We brought in the two ram lambs and began bottle-feeding them a mixture of cow’s milk and raw eggs.  So once again we have lambs to raise.  This year, with Harry Potter books fresh on their minds, the girls have named them Albus (Dumbledore) and James (Potter).   They live in the barn with the flock and come running to us every time we go out feed them.  Even though after a couple weeks the novelty wears off a bit, it really is fun to raise bottle lambs.  Curiously enough, nearly every time we are feeding this year’s bottle lambs, last year’s bottle lamb, “Sweetie pie” comes nosing around as though she remember when it was her turn.  (Last year I wrote about her – she was lame in her front leg and we put a cardboard splint on it – this year she runs with the other sheep and doesn’t even show signs of a limp!)

Albus and James barn feeding