Lambing

 
 


Each spring brings lambing and kidding season to the farm.  Watching fiber babies dancing on the hillsides or sleeping in the sun is a wonderful affirmation that spring is coming. It has taken many months of planning and a lot of work to get these precious babies here each spring.


The previous fall I spent days contemplating: fleeces, herd size, colors, temperament and finally made the hard choices about which animals to breed. Over the winter I watch as each of the chosen girls grows fat with the next generation of fiber animals for the farm.  


These girls get stalled and fed separately each night to make sure they get what they need to grow big strong babies.


In late February, I set up the baby/barn monitor in the house and we begin to listen to the soft jingle of goat bells and barn noises 24 hours a day. The barns are cleaned extra well and readied for newborns.  I am usually called to my barn midwife duties by the sound of someone digging a nest in straw, or the low-pitched chattering sound all the girls make when they are birthing.  I head out to the barn with my birthing kit in hand. Most often I just sit quietly as the miracle unfolds in front of me. I help the new mom dry the baby, and dip its umbilical cord in iodine. Then I sit back to watch as the new baby staggers to its feet and finds their mother’s rich milk.


Once in a great while something is out of order and I must do a quick scrub and step in.  I search out a tiny leg that is bent back or an elbow caught on the pelvic rim.  At times like these I am always amazed by how calm and trusting the girls are.  They know I am there to help.


Sometimes, if a baby has had a very traumatic birth, they are too tired to get up and find their mother’s colostrum.  I help the baby get into position or milk out a bit of this magic elixir and shoot it into the corner of their mouth with a large needle-less syringe.


All mothers and newborns stay isolated in small pens for the first few days to bond and let the babies gain strength before going out into the big world. If the weather is nice they have a small outside area where the babies can begin to test their jumping skills. First time moms who are still learning the ropes of motherhood are often kept away from the main flock in the smaller east pasture for a week or two.


On sunny spring mornings, I often have my coffee in the barn lot holding the babies. Friends come to visit and help hold babies too. This early handling helps them get used to interactions with people and makes them easier to manage as they grow.

 

Lambing and Kidding Season