In October of 2020 a day I had been waiting for finally came, Big Bertha gave birth. Big Bertha is a ewe I purchased, fulling one of my goals for the year 2020, to purchase a really nice full blood Dorper ewe with Australian bloodlines. The day was a double blessing as the twins Big Bertha gave birth were both ewe lambs. My registered flock of ewes had increased by two.
I had purchased Big Bertha at a complete dispersal sale. There was no history with the ewes that were sold. I checked Big Bertha’s udder for fullness and no lumps after delivery, and all seemed fine. I stood with wonder watching the two ewe lambs nurse at the same time, enjoying the ewe chuckle to her lambs.
When the lambs were three days old, one lamb was standing back and moving slowly to follow mom. The lamb was hunched up, cold, and not looking good. I penned Big Bertha up with her twins.
My detective work started. What was going on with the one twin. I observed them to see the lambs nurse. Big Bertha would only let them nurse from one side. I caught Big Bertha up and milked her from both sides. One side did not produce milk, a small lump in the teat prevented the milk from flowing out. I used a needle and worked with her to get the milk to flow, nothing.
One of her lambs would need to be bottle fed, I chose the weakest. Bottle feeding in the cold night is not for me. I do not mind bottle feeding every two hours, I hate being cold. So into the house the little lamb came. Her living area would be our spare 1/2 bath near the back door. I fixed a crate with a heating pad for her to sleep in, put in water, and started the bottle feeding. She was not interested at first, as she was still too cold. I kept trying and after two hours and her getting warm….she was hungry and sucked down her milk as fast as she could.
This little lamb would follow me around the house as I did the cleaning and cooking. I decided to call her PeeWee.
PeeWee grew stronger. At two weeks of age she would go outside with me to do chores. PeeWee also learned how to bang on the gate keeping her in the small bathroom when she was hungry. I would be awoke from a nice sleep by relentless banging, on schedule to feed PeeWee. PeeWee also only used the bathroom in the crate, the small bathroom was not cluttered with sheep feces or urine. In a matter of time she was big enough to go outside and stay.
I put her with the other lambs, as I had weaned everyone, including PeeWee. I would let the lambs out on the yard to eat what grass was starting to grow. PeeWee did not like being weaned. I was inside the house, PeeWee came up on the deck and looked in the glass door. She saw me and head butted the glass, she wanted her milk. I had to put PeeWee in a pen and keep her there, unless I was outside.
In February Texas was hit with a real cold freeze that lasted for a week or more. We were without power for four days. During this freeze, PeeWee got pneumonia. I am some strong emotional attachment to PeeWee, not the wisest thing for a sheep farmer to get with a sheep. So, I brought PeeWee in the house again to keep her warm. Although we did not have power for heating, we had a fireplace. The inside of the house was warmer than the barn. I have PeeWee medication and kept her warm. So, she was bouncing around the house as she did when she was much smaller.
Today, I can call PeeWee and she comes, she always has to say hello when she sees me. In December of 2021, PeeWee became a mom, she had a ram lamb. PeeWee, like her mom is an awesome mother, without the milking problem.
One mistake I made with PeeWee was not giving her colostrum when I first brought her into the house. She had been with her mom, and was three days old before I brought her into the house. I think she did not get enough colostrum as a newborn lamb and it affected her immune system to be weak. When the cold spell hit she became sick.
We keep Big Bertha as she produces really nice lambs and has good Australian bloodlines. I bottle feed her lambs, first with colostrum from the lesson learned with PeeWee. I keep the lambs with Big Bertha and feed all with a bottle until they start eating feed. I call Big Bertha my one tit wonder.
There are times a sheep farmer does not see or feel a problem, and a lamb is lost. Learn from those times and keep moving towards being better. Do not stop and beat yourself up when things do not go well.