Drake

Nova’s little boy is named Drake. For the type of dragon, not for a male duck. Someday I’m going to look up how those two creatures ended up with the same name, but I haven’t gotten curious enough yet to bother.

I basically shoved Nova out of the barn yesterday, since she showed every indication that she planned to hide in there with her baby forever. I told her her baby needed fresh air and sunshine, and to meet other the other sheep.

She got the better of me, though. Poor Drake is spending an inordinate amount of time stuffed into a hollow tree stump, and it doesn’t look like Nova plans to let him out for any length of time anytime soon.

Herbivores are generally classified as “hiders” or “followers”, based on if they hide their babies like deer or keep them close all the time like horses. Sheep are supposed to be followers, but Nova didn’t read the manual and seems to be a pretty dedicated hider.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I’m coming out now! Look out, world!”

Drake wasn’t a bit scared of the other sheep; I’m pretty sure he’s ready to take on the world.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Oh no you’re not! Get back in that tree before a lamb-snatcher sees you!”

Nova hasn’t lost a baby yet, I have no idea why she’s so paranoid.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Never mind, world. Mama says I’m not coming out now.”

Smart boy isn’t arguing with his mother. Much. Yet. Taking on the world is one thing, taking on Nova is something else.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Lamb? What lamb? There no lamb here, nothing to see at all!”

Hopefully she’ll let him out before he grows too big and gets stuck in there.

Rivals

Good news: Mira is no longer running for her life every time she sees Angel.

Bad news: She is now determined to keep Angel from encroaching on her territory, namely me. She keeps charging her every time it looks like Angel is heading for me. Fortunately I think Angel thinks it’s a vaguely scary game.

Other bad news: Mira is for some reason also determined to drag all of the rocks out of our landscaping. I found several rocks at least six feet from their original location.

“I don’t like where this rock is, I’m going to move it!”

“Also all these little rocks, I’ve got to move them, too!”

“Yay, rocks! Rocks are fun to play in!”

Sigh. Only two weeks old and already being corrupted.

“Excuse me, I’m trying to do a very important job here, and I’m never going to get it done if I have to keep stopping to run that little interloper away from you!”

Sigh. So much drama. No wonder Nova refuses to bring her baby out of the barn.

Meeting the Family

I let Nova and Little One out into the small area in front of the barn today. Nova ran over to the fence calling after the other sheep like she wanted out. Little One (who is a ram, I checked) had other priorities. Food occupies the top five spots on his priority list.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Hey guys, where’d you go without me?!”

“Stop walking, it’s breakfast time!”

Mira smelled all the birthing smells yesterday and got all confused. She was pretty sure this lamb is her Real Baby, not that other one that made her hurt. Nova disagreed vehemently.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I think that’s my baby!”

“Um, no, this is MY baby!”

They bickered through the fence for a minute or two, then Mira lost interest and wandered off to play Kill the Stick, which is her favorite solo game. I’m not sure what the goal of the game is, but you play it by moving a stick around with your hooves and occasionally jumping up and down, pounding it with both front feet.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I’m going to get you, you stick!”

I once made the mistake of thinking that the stick was bothering her and tossed it over the fence to get it out of her way. She got very mad at me, stared at the stick through the fence mournfully for a minute, then ran off and found another stick to move around and stomp on. I think maybe she was around Watcher too much as a baby and picked up his stick obsession.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Hey, it’s another little one! Where are they coming from?”

“Hold still, Mom! It’s still breakfast time!”

Once Mira and Nova stopped yelling at each other, Nina and Neo came over to see the baby, prompting Nova to hide him behind her even more pointedly.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Hey wow, it’s another one!”

*Gulp-gulp-gulp*

Then Holly, Duchess, and Lady came over and Nova got overwhelmed, bopped Holly in the head, and shuffled her lamb away from the fence back towards the barn.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“You’re making me nervous, following us around! You’re a baby-snatcher, don’t you dare snatch my baby!”

“Wait up Mama! Stop running away with my milk!”

Nova is extremely paranoid about losing track of her babies.

Little One is extremely paranoid about losing track of his food.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Maybe we should just go back in the barn…”

“What about all those other sheep? I was busy having breakfast, I didn’t get to check them out! And the person with the clicking box, what about her?”

Nova was not in favor of her precious baby checking out all those potential baby-snatchers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Nope, that’s it, we’re going back in the barn.”

“OK. Can I have second breakfast now?”

I left the barn door open so Nova and Little One can go in and out as they please today. Then I left them alone and came back to the house so Nova could stop watching me suspiciously.

I knew from previous years that Nova wouldn’t be ready yet to have all her curious flockmates swarming around checking out her baby. That’s why I didn’t let her out with the others like she wanted at first. Nova’s neurotic enough about her babies, I’d rather do everything possible to limit the stress on her. If the others can meet the lamb a little bit through the fence today, there won’t be as much fuss when he and Nova go out with the others.

At least Mira seems to have finally forgiven me for trying to foist her own baby off on her. She’s back to following me around (as long as Angel isn’t there), climbing on me, and loudly demanding entrance to the basement.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Moooom! I know you’re hiding crunchies in there!”

Maybe when Angel grows up they’ll both stand outside my door yelling like Christmas carolers.

Monday’s Child

I opened the barn doors to let the sheep out just as Nova was starting to push the water bag out, so I got to watch her baby being born! I haven’t gotten to see one born since Nova herself was born! I was sure she’d twin, but it looks like it’s just the one.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Hi there!”

I don’t put much stock in the birthday poem; Little John was born on Easter Sunday, and while he is bonny, and sometimes blithe, is most definitely is not good always. Little One (temporary name) is fair of face though, so I guess it can’t be wrong all the time. It was hard to get good pictures, because Nova is just as obsessive as she’s always been about her babies. Which is definitely 100% better than the alternative, so I’m not complaining a bit. She’s free to obsess over that baby to her heart’s content.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Mooommy, quit licking my head!”

Nova always has arguments with all her babies within an hour of their birth, on account of the baby wanting to nurse and Nova wanting to keep them right in front of her where she can see them with both eyes and keep licking them looong after they’re dry. I saw Little One nurse several times though, so everything’s good on that front. They’ll work out a compromise.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Mommy’s being so stubborn! I need more milk!”

Angel and Little One will have to exchange sob stories about their mean mommies. Angel has a sweetness about her personality that she shares with Mira and Duchess; Nova’s lamb already seems to have the same determined confidence as the rest of Princess’s line. (based, admittedly, on less than an hour’s acquaintance, but still. There was a distinctive “Ta-da! I have arrived!” sort of air to the first steps, and a glint in the eye when arguing about nursing vs licking.)

Going by the look of the head and legs, I’m about 70% sure the lamb is a ram, which is really disappointing, but I didn’t want to barge in and grab the baby out from under Nova’s nose so soon, so I haven’t actually checked the plumbing for sure. I’m holding off settling on a real name until I know.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Just don’t keep calling me Little One! I’m big!”

Every single one of Princess’s descendants have been born with an inflated opinion of their own size, except Prince Bran the Brawny, who actually was as huge as he thought he was. This one’s smaller than Angel was I think, but may look bigger once actually completely dry and fluffy.

They’ll stay in the barn today, and we’ll see how Nova feels about venturing out a little bit tomorrow. She probably won’t be ready for the whole flock crowding around to meet the new arrival, but I can chase everyone out of the lane in front of the barn and close the gate, and the two of them can poke around there without being bothered. Hopefully this one won’t be like Ash, who toddled straight from the barn over to the fence and tried to crawl through it on his first trip outside.

Angel We Have Heard on High

When you’d like to film your bottle lamb doing cute lambie hops, but she is very firmly convinced that she did not just have a bottle two minutes ago, in fact she thinks she may have never had a bottle ever and she’s prepared to venture forth on her own and turn the house inside out looking for it if necessary.

She’s gotten very good at stairs. I’m very impressed with her stair-climbing ability.

After I retrieved my wayward lamb from where she was very determinedly looking for her bottle on the couch, she did consent to hop around a little for me before deciding she might as well eat grass clippings if I’m determined to starve her to death. She was still pretty set on the idea of going back inside for food, though.

She has a little dribble of milk on her nose. It’s very cute.

The Game’s Afoot

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“What shall I explore today?”

Angel is a very busy lamb; she has a big world to investigate!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“What is this? No rubber boots!”

Angel and Nina were both very curious about my unusual footwear. Nina lost interest pretty quickly and went back to grazing, while Angel continued to try to eat my shoe.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

*chomp-chomp-chomp!*

I have strong circumstantial evidence

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

that shoe-chewing

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

is a highly heritable trait.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Angel is most definitely Mira’s daughter.

 

 

For Real This Time

Angel got to meet everybody for real today. I would like to say it was a carefully planned introduction, but really I took her out in the yard after her bottle and forgot the other sheep were already in the yard until I saw Lana charging to the “rescue” and then it was too late.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Save the lambie!”

“Moooom! They’re big and scary, I think I need to be picked up now!”

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Don’t you mistreat that lambie! I’m watching you!”

Lana is a good sheep, even if she thinks I am a Highly Suspicious Character who mistreats lambies.

Liam had to come up and investigate Angel too, if only to see what Lana was so interested in. He didn’t understand what the big deal was.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I don’t understand this fuss about the whole lamb business, I just pay attention to food. And Lana. And Neo, he’s my friend too.”

Angel gathered her courage pretty quickly and wanted back down, though she stayed pretty close to my legs just in case.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Hey, do you want to play?”

Angel’s not quite ready for cooperative play, she’s still figuring out how to hop without falling on her face. She’s getting very good at it as long as the floor isn’t slippery. I’m sure she’ll be wanting to play pretty soon. And then Holly will no doubt fulfill her sacred duty as the cool teenager yearling to teach Angel all the wonderful Splendid Games that Mira and Will taught her and the Dukelings last year when they were young and impressionable. The circle of life continues.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Who is that lamb again?”

Speaking of, Grandma Duchess was still very interested in her unknown grandlamb, more than Lady or Nova were. I’m pretty sure with two generations of adoptions in there she can’t possibly know Angel’s related to her, but she’s always been an enthusiastic auntie, and she did adopt Princess’s boys last year when they lost their mom, so maybe she was just interested because she likes lambs in general.

Everyone else came by, gave Angel a sniff or two, and moved on, except Mira, who hid behind the edge of the porch and glared at us.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Don’t come near me with that scary monster!”

Poor Mira. I was hoping her lamb would be a friend for her, not traumatize her. Oh well, these things happen I suppose. I tried to take Angel over by her, but when I got too close Mira darted in, knocked Angel down, then backed far away again.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Stay away from me, you scary thing you!”

I’m hoping if I keep taking Angel out with the flock without trying to push her towards Mira that Mira will get desensitized and stop acting like she’s a scary monster. She’d better get used to her, they’re going to be living together eventually whether Mira likes it or not.

Also, yes, Nova is licking the wall in the background. No, I don’t know why. She’s obsessed with it. I don’t ask. My best guess is that it’s because the brick is the same color as their mineral mix. Seems like she would be able to tell pretty quickly the house isn’t made of salt, but whatever. At least it’s better than eating the lava rock, which they’ve all tried to do at one point or another. Why does the mineral mix have to be the exact same color as the house and landscape rock?

Nova’s lambs are due next week, so hopefully that will be less drama-filled and give Angel some kids more her own size to play with.

Meet and Greet

Angel got to meet the other sheep through the fence! I don’t quite trust them enough to be in the same field together yet, but if they can get used to her this way they’ll be less likely to swarm her when she gets to play with them for real.

“Who are you??”

Grandma Duchess was very interested in Angel, which I thought was pretty neat.

Lana was more interested than anyone, every time Angel so much as made a peep Lana would come flying over to the fence to make sure I wasn’t horribly mistreating the poor lamb. Lana won’t come within ten feet of me normally, but she stuck her nose less than six inches from my hand to check on that baby. It was very funny, I laughed at her a lot.

“Is she really a sheep? I’ve never seen a sheep that small!”

Holly and Nina were both flabbergasted by the sudden existence of lambs younger than themselves, but Holly went back to her mama before I could get a picture of her. Judging by previous years, the yearling girls will figure out the advantages of being the cool big sisters quickly enough.

“I am being mistreated! Those people in the house only give me bottles every two hours! And sometimes they make me walk when I want to be carried and carry me when I want to walk! And sometimes if there’s only one person watching me, they’ll go to the bathroom and leave me all alone for like two whole minutes!”

“Oh no! That’s horrible! I knew that ShepherdPerson was a shady character!”

I actually half think Lana would adopt Angel if she had milk. I’m not sure why, but she certainly is worried about her.

“What are you doing?”

“I found another kind of GreenGrowyThing! I need to chew on it to see what it is! I’m going to have to learn to eat grass really fast because these people are starving me to death!”

Even Neo had to come check out the new baby. He isn’t even a ewe, but he’s always had a soft spot for babies.

“Don’t you come near me with that monster!”

Meanwhile Angel’s actual mother hides behind the tree and occasionally stomps her foot in Angel’s direction. Mira is flat out terrified of Angel to the point she runs away the minute she sees or hears her coming.

I noticed there was a little bit more blood than usual on the straw where Mira gave birth, and she’s still mincing around like her back end really hurts. Angel’s not huge, but she is a good sized lamb, so my best guess as to what happened is that Mira had a hard time delivering and thinks Angel is this tiny dark monster attacked her and made her hurt. I’ve heard of that happening with first-time sheep moms.

She still hasn’t forgiven me for trying to force her to let Angel nurse, though today she did come close enough to snatch a crunchy treat from my hand before running off. It’s hard to reassure her when half the time I have the “terrifying” lamb in tow. I feel bad about it, Mira’s never been scared of me before, but hopefully she’ll get over it eventually. I miss having her nose in my pocket while I’m trying to walk.

Day 1

Angel made it through her first night like a champ! It’s amazing how much easier this bottle lamb thing is when the lamb is healthy. She’s had her breakfast and is napping right now, but maybe we’ll go outside later.

Yesterday afternoon I took Angel outside to play in the grass for a while, and she enjoyed that a lot. She had to conduct a very serious investigation of grass, clover (which is not the same as grass, who knew?) and dandelions.

“What is this incredibly tall flower? It’s as tall as me!”

“That dandelion was tricky! It fell apart and made me sneeze and the pieces stuck to my head!”

In time she will no doubt learn that the yellow dandelions are delicious, and should all be eaten up before they turn into the tricky white dandelions. For the moment she had better stick to milk.

“Milk! Is it bottle time yet?”

Angel is fixated on bottle time. She is a bottomless pit of hunger. She’s determined to eat herself to death and thinks I’m very mean because I won’t let her. Mira used to think I was mean because I forced her to eat; Angel screams at me when I make her stop eating.

In between bottles and naps, she believes the only acceptable place for a baby lambie is on someone’s lap. My mother’s lap is the best, but somebody’s lap must always be available. All laps belong to Angel.

I foresee she and Mira will have a territory dispute about that at some point. My lap has always been Mira’s, and she doesn’t like to share.

“Well maybe she should have thought of that before she refused to feed me and left me wet and hungry for ages and ages!”

Right now Mira’s not speaking to me because I had the audacity to try to force her to feed her own baby yesterday, but I’m sure she’ll forgive me eventually. She’s grown out of her aversion to eating, and I’m her main source of crunchies. I shamelessly use this to get her to forgive me for everything.

Good Friday

When I was heading across the field to let the sheep out, about halfway there I heard a newborn lamb screaming bloody murder. My first reaction was “Newborn lamb! Yay, what a good sound!”

My second reaction, close on the heels of the first, was “Uh-oh, newborn lamb screaming loud enough to hear halfway to the house is not a good sound.” Baby lambs that are being fed and taken care of make soft little happy bleats, not ear-splitting shrieks.

Sure enough, Mira and her baby were in opposite corners of the jug and had no interest in each other. Mira hadn’t even licked her baby off. I tried to make Mira let the baby nurse, but she kept attacking the lamb every time I brought it near. The baby had been born long enough that she was up and walking and the birthing fluids had half-dried to her wool, so I thought it better not to wait any longer to get food in her. I brought her in the house and gave her powdered colostrum and let her take a nap, then tried again to get Mira to take her with no luck.

So, bad news: I have another bottle baby. Good news: Mini-Mira is a ewe! And she’s big, full term, healthy, and very vigorous, so she’s already better off than Mira was at her age. Plus, it’s plenty warm outside so she won’t be cooped up in the house battling hypothermia for weeks.

1.jpg

“OK, I sniffed the grass a little bit. Now I think I want another bottle!”

She’s a cute little almost-black lamb. She has the classic Soay spot on the back of her head, and white spots inside her ears that are just adorable.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Do YOU have my bottle?”

2.jpg

“Well? Somebody’s got to be my mommy, and mommies are supposed to have milk! Somebody give me milk!”

No dripping colostrum a drop at a time via syringe for this lamb! I’m more worried about her eating too much than not enough.

5.jpg

“Is there milk in your elbow?”

Definitely a “jump up and suck the fencepost” type of lamb, as my advisor in college would have called her.

6.jpg

“Milk! Milk! Milk!”

The fencepost, the towels we dried her off with, my shirt, my face, anything she can get her mouth on.

Mira’s not doing as well. I think she’ll be ok, she expelled the afterbirth and everything just fine, but it was a big ordeal and now she doesn’t have a lamb to distract her from how she’s feeling. She’ll be fine once she’s had some time to rest, but I’m going to worry about her anyway until she’s back to normal. She’s still my baby, after all.

The new baby’s name is Angel, a little bit because of the holiday, a little bit because Angel matches Miracle, and a little bit after Mira’s twin brother, Snow Angel. So far she’s been a very well-behaved lamb, so hopefully the name isn’t wishful thinking.