Lambing Is Done, Gardens Are In.

Sheep Notes: It’s almost the end of June, and with great trepidation I can say that the manic storm of Spring’s affairs is beginning to regulate itself. We had four lambs born this spring; three ewes and a ram, all without assistance- a great feat, in my mind, as two of our three ewes were first time moms. The lambs, on the other hand, had a trickier time. Two lambs were up and nursing within minutes of being born. One needed an hours worth of help and encouragement in finding her mama’s udder, but one took an incredibly stressful ten hours or so to begin nursing. It is crucial for lambs to ingest the colostrum from their mothers’ milk within the first sixteen hours of life, as it provides the energy they need to maintain their body temperature and avoid hypothermia, as well as gives the lambs antibodies to protect their fragile immune systems against disease. Lambs that don’t get colostrum during that initial time period have a very slim chance of surviving. As a first time midwife to sheep, it was really difficult for me to discern whether or not to intervene. It’s always better for lambs to be handled as little as possible; allowing the moms to bond with their newborns lessens the likelihood that they will reject their young. However, those first few hours are so crucial to the lambs’ survival that playing it cool could be a deadly mistake. I’m so happy that our little ones all pulled through, and even more relieved that lambing is done for the year.

Grape with her ewe (black) and ram (brown, white, black) twins, trying grass for the first time. Mid-May 2019.

Grape with her ewe (black) and ram (brown, white, black) twins, trying grass for the first time. Mid-May 2019.

Late June 2019

Late June 2019

Garden Notes: Last year, the squirrels and chipmunks helped themselves to all but an stray kernal or two of our corn. This year, I planted our winter squash all along either side of the corn rows in hopes that their spiny vines and leaves will create a barrier that will deter the critters. We’ll see if it works!

The other noteworthy experiment this year is that I’m trying growing tomatoes and peppers in pots in the polycarbonate greenhouse. Both did great in the ground under the hoop house last summer, but the snow this winter collapsed the hoops and shredded the poly-film.. so, pots it is! The tomatoes are in five gallon plastic pots, filled with compost, vermiculite, peat moss, and worm castings. The peppers are planted in the same mix, but in one gallon pots. I got a late start on the peppers this year, but despite being a little shrimpy, they seem happy so far!

Meg Witherbee