Someone remarked that we'd had about five or six days of winter this year (at least if you count the number of storms we've had). One of those winter days (or nights, in this case) was last night. We've had rain and lots of wind overnight - it's been one of those nights that keeps a shepherd up with worry - especially if his ewes are in the midst lambing (as ours are).
Last year, I kept a daily journal on this blog of our lambing. We had a difficult time of it last year - a selenium deficiency resulted in the loss of many lambs early on during lambing, and wet weather was hard on the sheep as well. I won't keep a daily log this year, but it is helpful to look back at what we went through in 2011.
At 3:45 this morning, I finally gave in to my worrying and ventured out to make my first round through the sheep (we have flocks in two locations about 5 miles apart at the moment). Because of last year's experience, I had some anxiety about what I'd find.
I was pleasantly surprised! The first group, which included several sets of twins born yesterday morning, looked great! I did find one lamb that had been born dead last night - it was a large lamb and a first-time mother, so it probably died in the birthing process. The second group, which is closer to home, included 3 new lambs born late yesterday - all of whom were fine! There were even two new healthy lambs that had been born during the storm. We had provided both flocks with sheltered paddocks, of which they took full advantage.
I wouldn't want to go through another year like last year, and yet I think it allowed us to learn some important lessons. Our new mineral supplementation program seems to have solved the selenium problem. Healthy ewes and healthy lambs seem to be able to cope with the cold and wet. We'll keep our fingers crossed - I know we have a long way to go this lambing season. At least for one night, things seem to be working!