Our new adorable Icelandics are really giving us a run for our money! Every time we think we have figured them out, they are still full of surprises.
Monday afternoon, it was Dulce, our caramel ewe. After our afternoon chores, we decided to return to the barn to check on her. She was off by herself in the upper pasture. We have come to realize that the Icelandics form a little group. They eat together, they sleep together, and they roam the pasture together. If one is missing, the race is on. There is no time to waste. Sure enough, when we found Dulce, she was in the very early stages of labor. Luckily, we managed to coax her into the lambing area in the barn, and within just 45 minutes, she had given us a perfect little Icelandic ram lamb. No complications. No confusion. Dulce’s mothering instincts kicked in almost immediately, and little ‘Heath’, named after the candy bar, was standing up on his sturdy little legs right away. He has the characteristic poodle curls, mostly white with a little black head, black legs, and black markings on his back. Very cute and just like Dulce except in black and white rather than brown and white. We are loving all the variations in patterns and colorings that we are getting with the Icelandics. They will indeed make beautiful fleeces, all different, and all unique.
Tuesday brought an even bigger surprise. No lack of excitement around here that’s for sure! This time it was around 7 o’clock in the evening, and it was too early to round up the flock. Since it was a beautiful, cool evening after a very hot day, they were still enjoying the pasture. Next to the barn are the remains of an old silo. It is slightly elevated, so it offers a great vantage point for viewing the rest of the barnyard. At least the sheep think so. They love to perch on this circular enclosure. A tree growing right in the middle provides a good amount of shade on a hot day. It is a favorite spot for the Icelandics, who still like a little separation from the rest of the flock. The first thing we noticed was that it was surprisingly empty. The second thing we noticed was a tiny little body stuck in the corner, a little lamb who had probably stumbled after struggling to balance on its still wobbly legs. The mother, of course, was nowhere to be seen. After seeing the dark chocolate poodle curls, we had no trouble putting two and two together. Vivian, one of our new Icelandic ewes, has almost the same coloring. She must have given birth and immediately bolted, not realizing what had happened. How unbelievably lucky that we happened to be walking by, and that she was still alive in the silo. She could have been born anywhere in the pasture, and we never would have found her. This was the second time in the last few days that we had been lucky with our timing.
Unfortunately, by the time we found Vivian in the pasture, the window of opportunity for bonding had already closed. It was too late for her mothering instincts to kick in. She did not know the ewe lamb was hers, nor for that matter did she care. In the lambing jug, she continued to ignore her. We tried, but no amount of coaxing seemed to do any good. She wasn’t even curious enough to sniff the newborn, and at one point even started head butting the lamb. So off we went to the house with another orphan, this time only a few hours old and in desperate need of colostrum to stay alive.
We have named her Chocolat, pronounced the French way, after the movie of the same name. She is perfect in every way with her cute little chocolate poodle curls. Weighing in at only 4 1/2 pounds, she is definitely the smallest lamb to be born on the farm. And to think we could have easily lost her if we hadn’t seen that little shape in the silo. Just like Sedona, we don’t want to think of what might have been. Instead we are just thankful for second chances and another precious life saved.