Looking forward to little lambs

If you’ve been reading my blog, Laura’s House Journey, you will remember that I had a hard time deciding if I should breed my sheep last fall or not. Everyone that I talked to had a different opinion. My bottle lamb Maggie was too small to breed, so I would have had to separate her. I just didn’t feel right about breeding the sheep when they still weren’t a year old. I wanted them to be full-grown before having to carry lambs during a brutal Maine winter.

I still really wanted lambs this spring. One day I had an idea. Why don’t I see if I can find a bred ewe and buy her? I put an ad on several sheep Facebook pages searching for a bred white Katahdin ewe. I got a message back from one of the most reputable breeders in the state saying that he needed to downsize a bit and he might have a few for sale. I was super excited.

The day after Thanksgiving my Dad and I visited their farm and he showed us a ewe that he had for sale. Her markings made her what people refer to as a badger ewe, meaning she wasn’t completely white but has black and brown on her stomach and legs. We decided to add her to our flock and brought her home Nov. 30.

She is four years old and had twins in 2017 and triplets in 2018. We struggled to find the perfect name for her. It was the end of November and Christmas was on everyone’s mind. Her markings kind of reminded me of a reindeer, so we went with Prancer.

I was excited that we’d be having lambs this spring. Two days after bringing her home, without going into all the details, I had serious concerns that she may have lost the lambs. I was fairly devastated. At that point, I really decided not to share news about getting her with most people.  She was pretty stressed on the way home. When you bring a new animal onto your farm, you are supposed to quarantine them for a while. Prancer was so stressed that we did not dare as we feared that she might lose the lambs. We bleached her feet and put her in with my other girls. The first 48 hours were rough. She was not particularly happy in her new surroundings, and my girls weren’t overly welcoming.

After a few days, everyone started to get along. There is no easy way to tell if a sheep is pregnant or not. The best thing you can do is wait. Sheep really don’t show until about six weeks prior to their due date. I decided that I could stress about it for the next two months of just give it to God. I went with the second and honestly tried not to let it stress me.

About the middle of January, I noticed her starting to get a bit bigger. This was about eight weeks out. She has continued to get larger and larger ever since. About two weeks ago, I noticed her utter starting to change and develop.

When we bought Prancer, we were told that she was supposedly bred on Oct. 14. A sheep’s gestation period is approximately 147 days, which would make her due March 10. I’ve had an internal countdown going since and we’re 23 days out at this point.

Once I realized that she was indeed getting bigger, I started to buy all the supplies that we need for lambing. It has been so much fun! I’ve purchased a few things every week at Tractor Supply, and also made an order from Premier 1 Supplies. I still need to pick up a few last-minute things but am close to being ready for lambs.

I’m so excited but have so many questions. How many lambs will she have? Twins are normal, but sheep sometimes have triples or even quadruplets. Single lambs are more common with first-time ewes. What will the lambs look like? How will my original four lambs react to the new lambs?

We should have the answers to all these questions in a little over three weeks!

Laura Reed

About Laura Reed

After 15 years in college athletics, the last seven as an assistant athletics director, I was burned out with 70-hour work weeks and extensive travel. I resigned my position and accepted a position in marketing at a small, vibrant college in my hometown of Unity, Maine. In the process I wanted to go back to my childhood where we raised polled Herefords, had a Christmas Tree Farm and spent many hours outside. I decided I wanted to build my own home on beautiful farmland that my family owns. With help from my Dad, the most talented person I’ve ever met, we are building my home together. I have decided to blog my experience – the ups and downs, the joys and frustrations. What was once an open field will one day be my home! The dream in my head is becoming reality. I can just see the lambs frolicking in the field, chickens in the barnyard and going running with my Alaskan Malamute!