The mamas here at the farm have been busily adding to the livestock numbers. Nona, a very shy ewe, presented us with twin lambs. She’s a first-time mother, but managed the birth and cleanup duties quite well. The trouble came later as her udder filled with milk.
At the end of the first day, she had much more milk than the lambs had appetite for, and that left her engorged and sore. By the time the lambs were hungry, Nona wasn’t in the mood to be touched. We tried this and that, then finally lifted her onto the old goat milking stand and distracted her with a bit of corn while locking her into the headgate. Jessica leaned on one side of her, steadying her while I helped the lambs get started.
Nona wasn’t happy, and she didn’t exactly cooperate at first. In time, she relaxed some, and we got enough milk out of her and into the lambs to make everyone a bit more comfortable. That one intervention was all that was needed, and Nona has it all under control now.
Meet Smudge, Nona’s ewe lamb. Smudge is slightly taller, a bit more friendly, and can run surprisingly fast for such a tiny lamb.
Here’s her twin brother, Lamb Chops. He likes to nap in a big blue bucket. I hope to get a decent photo of that before he outgrows the bucket, but so far I’ve not had much success. Nona’s a bit protective of her little boy and blocks the view of the bucket as soon as she sees the camera.
This Blue Slate turkey hen sat out in the rain all day, sheltering her single hatchling beneath her.
Here she is with her special baby — a banty chick. Chicken eggs require 21 days to develop, but turkey eggs take 28 days. Some of the free-ranging birds aren’t particular about which nest they leave their eggs in. They just pick a free spot, leave a deposit, and go about the day. Eventually, one hen or another will go broody and take over the nest of mixed eggs — turkey, banty, full-sized chicken, duck, and maybe even a goose egg.
Chicken eggs take 21 days to develop, but the others take about 28 days. It can be a problem when a 28-day mama bird has a 21-day egg in the nest with the others. Often, she’ll abandon the rest to care for the first batch of hatchings, which is what happened with this Blue Slate turkey hen. Fortunately, in this case, she and another turkey where sharing nest duties. So this turkey hen took off with the chick, leaving the other with the unhatched eggs still remaining in the nest.
The first batch of incubator eggs pipped this weekend. The fifteen healthy turkey poults will spend their first few days in a brooder indoors before graduating to the larger one out in the barn.
This spring I have three incubators running, one of my own and two borrowed from a neighbor who doesn’t plan to hatch any birds until later in the season. Duck, banty, and turkey eggs are due to hatch at various dates, and I’m also expecting a shipment of Sweetgrass turkeys sometime in the next couple of weeks.
We’re going to busy around here with all those babies to watch.