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Ba Ba Black Sheep

The black lamb indoors at White Horse Farm

The black sheep indoors at White Horse Farm 

Baa Baa black sheep

January sees the start of our lambing, the ewes are in the barn dry and safe, foxes are plentiful at the farm and lamb is always welcome on their menu along with piglets and poultry!
 

 


The arrival of the first lamb is always exciting but the arrival of multiple lambs is amazing although triplets and quads are not really what I would want from all the ewes. A good set of twins born to a mother who will look after them is always the best bet, however there is always the one that disowns the lamb no matter how many siblings there may be and that is how we arrived with our black sheep "Hettie". 

Hettie was born to one of the older Suffolk ewes and she was one of three. Her sister was accepted by the ewe but Hettie and her brother were left cold, wet and unloved. This is a difficult time as the ewe must be penned in a small pen and really forced to accept the abandoned lambs. The ram lamb was stronger than Hettie so we decided that we would take her in to the kitchen and try to rear her as a "pet" lamb. This seems the most appealing procedure to those innocent to the trouble and heartache "pet” lambs cause.

Firstly you have to make sure the lamb receives colostrum, this is the first milk from the mother and holds the defence to the environment that lamb would have grown up in. The kitchen no matter how clean is not the same as the barn and our germs are not the same as those the sheep are accustomed to. If the lamb does manage to survive the first three days the next three months are still difficult. We try to rear our lambs on cows milk which some will say is the wrong composition for lambs but we find that it is not too rich and because "pet" lambs are on a routine of feeding and not as required like "normal" lambs a glut of rich milk can also kill!
Pet lambs are adorable during the first three months then they become creatures from hell, noisy, aggressive not in the bite or kick sense but if you have ever been "butted" then you will understand what I mean. Pet lambs consider any human fair game for a feed and a well positioned "butt" will have a grown man on his knees in tears, if you get my drift.


Now Hettie was one of our lucky lambs she survived the initial stress of being in the kitchen and was soon causing chaos following everyone into the shop or trying to get upstairs with the children!, for me the time to put her out in the garden to wean would not come quick enough, you see it is much easier to have more than one "pet" lamb as they then have each other to bond with, Hettie had only us so as far as she was concerned she was not a sheep. Weaning her to the garden was awful I had to put her outside in the morning and spend the next eight hours listening to her bleating trying to get back in. She would race around the house stressed and alone. We tried to put her with the other sheep but that was worse. She did eventually settle and was resigned to grazing the lawn and spending time looking woefully over the fence whenever any one walked past.

She is now nearly two years old and will hopefully lamb this next January, keep watching as there will definitely be pictures of that event!