Skip to main content

"Wonder" the Lamb

On Wednesday, February 24, one of our ewes had triplets (2 ewe lambs and one ram lamb).  She seemed to be taking care of all 3, so we left them with her.  On Thursday, February 25, we moved the ewes to another paddock that offered shelter under some large oak trees in anticipation of weekend storms.  On Friday afternoon, I went through the sheep after a heavy downpour and was disappointed to find one of the triplets, a ewe lamb, missing.  Since we'd seen great horned owls and eagles around, I assumed that we'd had our first aerial predator loss.

This past Monday (March 1), we moved the sheep again.  Our intern, Alice, heard a lamb calling from near the trees in the old paddock, but she couldn't see anything.  Investigating more carefully, Alice found a hole at the base of the largest oak.  She could hear a lamb but couldn't see it until she stuck her head down the hole.  To our amazement, she pulled the ewe lamb out of the hole!  She was very thin, but definitely alive.  After missing all of her meals over the weekend, she was ready to nurse on anything that moved.  Unfortunately, her mother had forgotten about her by this time, so brought her home to raise her on a bottle.  On the ride home, she tried to nurse on the steering wheel, on my elbow, and on the border collies.  She took to the bottle immediately and seems to be thriving here at home.

We've tried to select our sheep for their hardiness, but this ewe lamb's example is extreme!  Alice named her "Wonder Lamb" (a play on Alice in Wonderland), and "Wonder" is one of those lambing stories we'll talk about the rest of our lives, I'm sure!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Trade Offs

As we were building fence for the soon-to-be-lambing ewes this morning, someone drove by and asked my partner Roger how long it took to set up the electro-net fencing we use for the sheep. Roger replied, "It's not too bad," to which the driver said, "Seems like a lot of work." Roger's answer - which both of us use with some frequency, was, "Yeah - but this way we don't have to feed any hay!" The driver, who obviously wasn't a rancher, didn't understand - and I suspect even some of my rancher friends don't understand the trade off we're making. Building electric fence is a lot of work - wouldn't it be easier just to feed hay?

The paddock that Roger and I built this morning encloses about 5.75 acres of high quality forage. Since the ewes are on the verge of lambing, their forage demand is peaking. They're eating nearly twice as much grass now as they need in the late summer - after all, many of them eating for three (and p…

No Easy Answers Part 2

In mid October, some friends who graze their cattle in the mountains of western Lassen County (less than 200 miles from our home), became the first ranchers to have cattle “officially” killed by wolves in California in nearly a century. Wildlife officials confirmed that the Lassen pack killed a 600-pound heifer; four more heifers died (and were partially eaten by wolves), but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) couldn’t confirm the cause of death. While I learned about the depredations shortly after they happened through the rancher grapevine, news of my friends’ losses weren’t made public until the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation issued a joint press release this week. The October 28 edition of the Sacramento Bee ran the story.
If you’ve read my previous blogs about wolves, you’ll probably know that I’ve frequently been frustrated with the Bee’s coverage. The paper has run guest opinions disguised as news articles, and appar…

Humbled and Excited

More than 20 years ago, I went to work for the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA). After two internships, I'd been hired by my friend and mentor John Braly as the membership director in 1992. By 1996, I'd been promoted to assistant vice president - pretty heady stuff for a young guy who hadn't grown up in the industry. I started looking for new challenges. Dr. Jim Oltjen, who was (and is) the beef extension specialist at UC Davis (my undergraduate alma mater) suggested that I think about going to graduate school to prepare for a career in extension. I considered it, but the timing wasn't right.

Fast forward to 2013 (or so) - I'd been working as a part-time community education specialist in our local University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) office for several years. The farm advisors in the office - Roger Ingram and Cindy Fake - suggested that I consider getting a master's degree and applying for a future farm advisor job. This time the id…