Diane's twins, a ram and a ewe lamb, were born sometime early Sunday morning, July 7, about 4 days early. We were not expecting it so early and we were not expecting twins--ewes bred as lambs generally only have a single. Nor was this a planned breeding--before we learned to fortify the gates sufficiently, the rams got in with the ewe lambs while we were gone for a few hours and partied the day after Valentine's Day. We didn't know for months if any of them were pregnant, but had started to wonder about Diane, although she never "showed" much, especially not much for twins. The upshot is that we did not have her in a jug, and the 2 and a quarter pound (tiny, tiny) twins were born in with all the other ewes and lambs before we were awake. I first saw a tiny dark but spotted ram lamb trying to follow our 3 white ewes into the pasture. I ran right out and collected Diane and her OTHER lamb (surprise!) and put them in the jug while Russ chased after her tiny ram lamb and caught him. All were on their feet and cleaned up. He was already dry, while the ewe lamb was still damp. We don't know how long he as firstborn was separated from his mother and his sister, but unfortunately it was long enough to disrupt the bonding process with his mother, and she simply would NOT take him back, no matter what. We tried everything. I started bottle-feeding him--he didn't suck perfectly but did get some commercial colostrum down--we tried milking his mother but that didn't fly with her, either. What a lot of effort. Suffice it to say the twins are 4 days old now and Rambo the little ram is in the house with us and his sister is with mom. Sister is stronger and gaining much faster, but little Rambo is holding his own and is in process of converting from commercial colostrum to commercial ewe milk formula now. On list for future is learning to milk our ewes for colostrum and freezing it! It has been challenging to feed him adequately, but a couple of tube feedings really helped strengthen him until he was stronger--he was strong when born but lost some ground day one when I was still trying to only bottle feed him. Tube feeding was a scarey idea to me at the time, but it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be and really effective. He will become a people sheep and a pet. We have been putting him in his own stall in the barn, sometimes adding his sister to the mix, while we do chores, but after repeated rejections from his mother and care from us, he already has little interest in other sheep. We will keep trying to at least expose him to other sheep frequently. Right now, though, he's bonding better with our elderly chocolate Labrador, a very kind and motherly dog, than he is with any of our sheep. We'll give it a college try fostering if any of our other yearling ewes ends up lambing soon, but that would take a real stroke of luck if it were to "take." For the time being, we're learning lots about caring for an "bum lamb" and enjoying him, and we'll just take it one day at a time and be thankful he's reasonably healthy so far and able to bottle-feed. Russ has been such a kind and supportive husband through all this--thank you, Russ! In the photo above he demonstrates bottle-feeding technique with a very young, very small but viable Shetland lamb. Photo below is of Diane and her daughter, who are both doing extremely well. Both of Diane's lambs will be available for sale as purebred but unregistered Shetland pets, that is, if we don't get so attached to little Rambo after caring for him that we decide to keep a little sheep who thinks he's human for nativity pageants, school and nursing home visits, etc. "Bum" lambs are really not bums--they can have jobs, too.
Jeanne Dukerschein loves animals and also has enjoyed lifelong interests in fiber arts, nature, and writing. In 2006, she learned to spin her own yarns and purchased her first Shetland ewe. Her poetry and fiber art, as well as her 20-year career as a freshwater biologist, carry common themes of nature, ecology, and