Beatrice the Bum

| 10/19/2017 11:41:00 AM

farm sign 

I made a mistake last weekend that every good shepherd knows not to do. I moved a mother and her twins before I should have. You see, when an ewe lambs, she must first clean the lamb thoroughly and expel the afterbirth before you can move her. To do so before either of these things happen is to risk confusing her and having her reject the lamb. Which is exactly what happened. Sheep are not the brightest of animals (as I have mentioned before) and are easily confused and distracted.

My ewe Evie had twins in the upper shed near the feed trough. Instead of waiting as I should, I thought moving her away from the trough would be best to prevent the new lambs from being trampled by the other ewes. In doing so, I caused her to reject the smallest of the two lambs. So now I have a "bum." That is the term given to lambs raised on a bottle. In days past, when a lamb was rejected, it might survive by darting in and stealing milk from other mothers (or bumming milk from them). Shepherds with big flocks did not have time to devote to a bottle baby, so if they did not put it down, they left it to fend for itself. A surprising amount of them lived to adulthood by doing this.


I am not so hardhearted. When I realized the lamb was not nursing, I brought her home. Then I was off to the Marion County Feed Store for powdered lamb starter and then on to my friend Nancy's for fresh goat milk. I like to mix the two for the first few weeks. The lamb starter gives the lamb all the necessary nutrients a newborn needs, and the goat's milk is wholesomeness all on its own.