Last weekend Nick built a creep feeder for the lambs. Creep feeders provide an additional source of nutrition for nursing lambs. Since lactation in ewes reaches its peak at three to four weeks of age, it is an ideal time to start lambs on a creep feeder. It provides lambs with an area that is separated from the rest of the barn with openings or slats that only lambs can fit through to get their grains and hay. Our creep feeder has 6 openings, 7 inches apart, three on one end and three on the other. Lambs can go in one end and then out the other quite easily. The grain trough is on the other side so that the larger sheep cannot poke their heads through. Francois was the first one in. He had no trouble figuring it out. The others have just started going in and out. We have changed their feed to a more finely ground or crumbled grain which seems to be easier to eat and digest than the pellet grains.
There are so many lambs in the big barn now that it is hard to keep track of them unless we look at their ear tags. Some numbers are easier to remember. For example, 007 is the easiest because we named him James, as in James Bond. The twins are also obvious because they are always together, and Francois is simply the largest lamb in the barn. No mistaking him, particularly since he is still the lamb ringleader. The difference now is that he has a whole barn full of lambs to play with.
Daytime in the barn has become a very noisy and a very busy affair with the addition of so many new mothers and lambs. The ewes are constantly running around calling for their offspring, sniffing each one in turn. Of course they are all black and look pretty much alike, so smell is very important. All day long, you can hear the sounds of the little high pitched voices followed by the low deep baaing of a multitude of mothers. Eventually they find each other, but until they do, the endless calling continues. Nanook’s mother, Nala, is always barreling around looking for him because he is very independent and feisty. When he was born, she seemed to openly reject him. Many nights were spent helping him to nurse while at the same time making sure she did not push him away. Eventually they bonded after an entire week in the pen together, and now she doesn’t want him to leave her side. He, on the other hand, bolted as soon as he hit the big barn. She has been chasing him ever since!
Late evenings and early mornings in the barn offer a complete contrast to the frenzy of the day. There is a certain stillness that permeates the barn at those times. It is then, more than at any other time, that you notice the little pairings. Each lamb has finally found his mother and is curled up contentedly next to her. The twins are always snuggled up to each other, their heads entwined. Looking closely, it is easy to spot their mother not far away. All is quiet and peaceful, at least until the new day begins, and the frenzy starts all over again.