A personal perpsective of life in our Virginia vineyard... Christine Wells Vrooman



A World of Sheep

Lambs, Lambs, And More Lambs!

Well, it seems our young ram, Pete, had quite a busy November.  We have now doubled our flock from ten to twenty.  Three singles, two sets of twins and a set of triplets!  And amazingly, all are doing well.  We had to supplement a bit... are still feeding "Li'l Love", one of the triplets.  Of course, we have them all named, Patch, Berto, Domino, Melissa, Charm, Junior, and more.  What will we do with them you ask? We will sell some for breeding stock, some for farm pets and keep the rest for grazing the farm and vineyard.  Here's "Love" enjoying a sip of Lamb Lager!

Bella Learns About Lambs
This is Bella's first lambing season and we were not quite sure how she would react to them.  We wanted to watch her closely as the first lambs were born.  Well, of course the first one was born in the  middle of the night!  Dan's alarming bark woke Arnold up in the cabin near the pasture. He flipped on the light and could see Bella dragging a lamb by the leg down the pasture.  I guess that Bella wasn't quite sure if it was an intruder or something to protect so she dragged it away from the ewe.  Arnold yelled to her and she dropped the lamb.  No injuries to the baby, but we kept Bella out of the pasture until we could train her that these little ones are now a part of the family.  Since then she has bonded beautifully with them and at any hint of danger, she barks and encircles the scattered flock and she directs them to the pasture.  It is a beautiful thing to watch.  From somewhere deep in her cellular memory, she recalls her heritage, the centuries of guarding sheep in the mountains of Italy.

No Prolapse, Please
One of the ewes, Iris, was prolapsing before her lambs were born and had to be taken to our animal hospital for delivery.  She proceeded to have a normal birth, but two days after returning to the farm, she began prolapsing again late one night.  In the dark, Dennis, Arnold and I worked on her with a flashlight , the gnats eating us alive, her little lambs hovering nearby.  I held the flashlight while holding her hind quarters up in the air while Dennis did his veterinary thing and shoved everything back in, then sutured her closed.  I was so thankful he was there.  Iris' groans were gut-wrenching.  Dan barked at the sound of her.  She wears a harness now to support everything.  Every day things look a bit less swollen, so perhaps she can be rid of this contraption soon.

A Peaceable Kingdom
I like to sit against the sycamore tree in the pasture amongst the sheep.  Such a lovely quiet fills the air, the only sounds are that of the creek gurgling, leaves swishing in the breeze and an occasional lamb blaating.  I find myself soothed by it all.
I have noticed personalities and roles in the hierarchy of a flock.  We have a barren ewe I call Aunt Dot that often "lamb-sits".  She once stood by the pasture gate, keeping her eyes on three lambs that were playing on a knoll nearby as their mothers rushed into the pasture to eat their grain at feeding time.  Everyone ran to eat except for the quiet, ol' spinster who stood guard over the lambs, watching them intently.  It was poignant, because I had observed her solitude when all the other ewes were birthing. I never really felt much attachment to her before this.  But I feel a sense of sympathy for her now as I watch her care for the lambs she was never able to birth herself.  Another farm might have culled her for her barrenness.  Sweet Aunt Dot... You are safe here.

Little Ones and Little Lambs
Lambs and little children seem to share their own slightly veiled world.   Is it the small size of little children or something more intrinsic that allows the lambs not to fear these humans?  A lamb's basic instinct is to dart from human hands.  But not from our little ones' hands.  The lambs took to their strokes like a soothing massage.  I watched in silence, a step apart from their world, as I snapped these images.

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