For several days after shearing, all was quite peaceful in the barnyard. The freshly shorn sheep soon returned to their normal routine, and we were back to our usual chores which, thanks to Coco, now included milking, pasteurizing, and making yogurt and butter.

Wednesday, May 13th

You do not want to be woken up at 3:30 in the morning by the sound of screaming ducks. It is never a good thing. Nick was up and out the door within seconds, but it was already too late. The damage was done. A fox had managed to attack and kill two of our ducks. Another duck had been found dead a few days before, so we knew that we had a problem on our hands. Roaming during the day would not be a problem, but the ducks, geese and chickens would definitely have to be locked in at night. Once a fox knows where to find food, it will keep coming back.

On a more positive note, Annie gave birth to twin doe kids later in the morning. This was the second time we had little or no warning that labor was in progress. As with Coco, it was over within minutes, the second twin coming immediately after the first. Right away we could tell that the little ones were Alpines through and through just like their mother. One is the spitting image of Annie right down to the little black stripe down her back, while the other resembles the brown and white features of Belle. They are incredibly cute! Since Belle is not in fact pregnant this year, we figure that Annie had Belle’s kid too. When Annie and Belle were the same age, and we first brought them to the farm, they looked exactly the same as these little ones.

That evening we brought the sheep in from pasture around 8 o’clock, an hour earlier than usual. Most were settling in for the night. Lambs of all sizes were snuggled up next to their mothers as usual, not quite willing to give up that closeness just yet. Our last Black Welsh ewe had finally given birth to a ewe lamb and they were in the lambing jug. The five Icelandics were also back in the watch area after a day on pasture. Thinking that the long day was over, we returned to the house. The ducks were safely locked up in the milk house, and the chickens were all in the coop. Back at the house, Michelle happened to take a quick look at the video feed from the barn before going to bed. Something that looked suspiciously like a large rat appeared on the screen surrounded by five rather confused looking ewes. Rats have been known to enter the barn, so that in itself was not all that unusual. What was unusual was the fact that there were five Icelandics peering intently at the shape on the floor, and no one was moving. Suddenly the shape started wailing loudly, and we quickly realized that the wailing ‘rat’ was in fact a newborn lamb. There was no way of telling who the mother was because no one moved. A mad scramble quickly  ensued as we all raced to the barn.

At the barn, it was all hands on deck. The Icelandics were still standing in a circle looking down. No one moved toward the newborn even though it was screaming. Even the new Black Welsh mother wailed every time the little lamb let out a cry. It was Sahara whose mothering instinct suddenly kicked in after she saw the troops arrive ready to take her newborn. There was still a lot of mucus in the lungs, so we had to make sure the tiny lamb was breathing. Sahara didn’t like it, and she immediately jumped in to protect her newborn. With surprising strength, this tiniest little ewe lamb gradually struggled to her feet searching for her mother. It took awhile, but the newborn finally latched on and started drinking. The crisis over, we could finally relax and study the lamb’s features. She seemed to be a mix of all the Icelandics. Her beige spotted coat resembled that of Dulce’s, while she had Rene’s badger face and her mother’s brown legs. She is very cute with her little poodle curls, but tiny, weighing in at only 5 1/2 pounds. So very different from all of our Black Welsh lambs. Eventually, perhaps, her outer coat will be the color of the desert like her mother’s. Following the tradition of her mother’s initials, we named her Sedona, the first purebred Icelandic born at Black Sheep Meadows.

Thinking back on the day’s events, we keep coming back to the same thing. What if we had been just an hour later bringing in the sheep from pasture. Normally, we don’t close them up until 9 pm. If that had indeed been the case, we might not have realized that she had given birth, at least not right away, and that poor little lamb would have been left out there somewhere. We probably wouldn’t have found her in time. Whether you want to call it karma, fate, a miracle of timing, or just plain luck, today it worked out in our favor, and at the end of the day we were able to save a little life. Nature certainly does work in mysterious ways.

Icelandic Lamb

Sahara, Sedona, and the Ducks