Shearing woes and a bummer lamb that is not a bummer

We had a shearer lined up, but the shearer lives on the closed-in side of the Oso landslide and couldn’t get out here.  The people behind the landslide aren’t at flood risk anymore, to my knowledge.  Life there is mostly back to normal given the situation, but still a lot of adjustments to make.  So we are likely to shear the whole flock ourselves.

My husband already did a first pass with the rams with a strong-backed relative stopping by to assist, and it looks ok.  We sheared after their wool break though, so we’ll see if it’s all felted up when I finally get around to that batch of wool.

Little Zuko is finally not so little anymore.  He is really amazing as a bottle lamb, I would go ahead and breed an ewe with the level of stamina and will to live and sheer strength and stubbornness he’s shown.  His weight gain is not what we’d hoped because we didn’t get the temperature right with many of his feeds.  We were usually doing room temperature, not body-heat warmth.  We were basically just confused and tired because his small size meant a lot more feeds than the feed instructions indicated.

But instead of failing to thrive, failing to gain weight or learn to walk, Zuko made it work.  He gained on feed that his tiny little body had to warm up first before using it for building muscle and weight.  And on the little bit he was gaining, he built enough muscle and fought to learn to walk, skip and run (lambs skip before running, as far as I’ve seen).  He got out there in the pasture with the smallest of the other lambs being twice his size and integrated himself into the flock enough to eat grass and start chewing cud.

I was worried he’d bond too much with us and not learn sheepy instincts, but he’s doing just fine.  He sees his bottle feeds as equivalent to nursing an ewe and doesn’t understand why the other sheep move away when we come out to feed him.  He also doesn’t run for any random human expecting feed.  He is tame, but totally remembers that he’s a sheep first, which is nice and not always what you get with bottle lambs.

He remains the runt of the flock, but after just a few days in the pasture, they are starting to sit next to him and let him graze in peace during the few times they are all flocking together.  We also corrected the bottle temperature issue and he’s gaining much better, with a good shot of tripling his birth weight by 4 weeks.  It’s still too early to tell what kind of fleece he’ll give as a wether, but his little sheep chest is filling out and his legs are strong, so he’s looking quite solid at less than three weeks old.

He’s an impressive and brave little lamb.


3 thoughts on “Shearing woes and a bummer lamb that is not a bummer

  1. Pingback: Swimming in rams | Food, Farming and Faith in Snohomish County

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