Sunday, March 23, 2008

Othello and Oscar: mentally challenged?

It too quite a while, and some canny shepherding, to get the new lambs feeding regularly. Oscar, the smaller of the two, seemed about half blind, stumbling around weakly trying to find his mother's nipples for what seemed like forever. Othello, who found the source early, seemed to lose it again. In the end we gave Oscar a bottle twice, and held Jewel down twice and forced the lamb to the nipple, squirting milk into his mouth, before he finally began to suckle vigorously at about the ten hour point. (Jewel wasn't very pleased with these procedures, and complained greatly, but then she should have smarter offspring.) After that we saw Oscar find the udder on his own, and feed properly, and so could relax. Which was a good job, because we were expected at another couple's house for dinner an hour or so later. We made our dinner date still smelling faintly of manure, and with iodine stains on Aimee's hands.

So much for natural intelligence. Neither of these guys is going to make it into the breeding stock, so we won't worry. They'll both be whethered in a few weeks, and both slaughtered this fall.

On a colder day, that delay might have been all she wrote for little O-boy. In Britain, when night time temperatures are often 40 or 50 degrees F in lambing season, no-one worries too much about lambs. They're born unattended in the field, and the shepherd just checks on them a few times a day. Here, where it was 15 F again last night, with a nasty cold wind, well, they have to feed to live or they will become quickly hypothermic, and we check constantly in the first few hours and have to make sure they're getting fed, or feed them ourselves.

This morning, they're still wobbly, but alive. I only felt the need to check on them once in the middle of the night, and they seemed ok.

Oscar? Othello? Aimee's picks. Oscar could be Oscar Meyer, unfortunate for any livestock baby. Othello? I guess he was black, Shakespeare's Moor, and both of these lambs are coal black.

Go figure...

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