Now that the first really wet weather of our lambing season has arrived, it's my time to worry. We've had nearly perfect weather since we started lambing two weeks ago - relatively warm days without much wind, and clear nights with no fog. Tonight is a different matter - it's cold, breezy and wet. I worry about the newest lambs on nights like this - will they get enough milk to keep them warm. Usually my concern is unfounded - our ewes are pretty competent mothers. Sometimes, though, I arrive at the ranch in the morning to find one or two chilled lambs who need my help to survive.
The help I provide generally involves bringing these cold lambs home to be bottle fed. We'll generally have one or two lambs that end up in box by the woodstove or wrapped in one of my wool coats. We then train these little ones to drink from a bottle - a poor substitute for their mother's milk, but better than nothing.
We try to build our paddocks with some shelter in anticipation of poor weather. Tonight's paddock, for example offers some topographic shelter from the prevailing southeasterly winds. If we had the good fortune to lamb at home (we don't have enough of our own land), I'd check the ewes during the night. As it is, I have to rely on my ewes' ability to take care of themselves and their lambs on their own. My trust is usually well-founded, but I know I won't sleep well tonight!