Monday, July 23, 2012

From Julie Herczeg, historical interpreter:

Exciting news! I had been all ready to blog about us finishing up the Settlement cabin, but we've had some other surprises lately. There are new baby lambs!

We breed our English Cotswold sheep so that they all give birth in early/mid April. This way, we can shear off their wool afterwards, at the arrival of the hot weather. Every year, like clockwork, wobbly little baby lambs enter the world by the end of April.

Occasionally, one of the ewes may be late, so we give them until May before we give up hope. This year, we had two sheep who never gave birth. We sheared them, and moved them to a separate field with another sheep who lost both her twins. And we shook our fists at Ben the Ram for not doing his job very well this year.

Ben, we're sorry. Better late than never, right? Imagine our surprise, in mid June, when our blacksmith, Andy, was walking to the forge in the middle of the day, and saw a teeny tiny head peaking out of some tall grass. Baby lamb!

Little Oakley was born on June 11th. What a surprise! Although Daisy, our bottle-fed lamb, was still popular amongst the visitors, Oakley soaked up a ton of attention, too, especially once we moved him and his mother to the English cattle shed.

A month later... Our English farm interpreter, Sally, was filling up the water tubs for the other sheep left in that field, and discovered TWO little heads! The final sheep gave birth to a little ewe and a ram.

Unfortunately, the mother rejected her baby ram, Alfred. This happens for many reasons. For example, Daisy had gotten rejected after another mother licked her clean when she was born. Luckily, our interpretive supervisor has a lamb-loving family at home, and his house becomes a nursery for rejected lambs. His two young children are more than happy to bottle feed and play with the fuzzy guys to bring them back to good health. So Alfred is living with them right now, and hopefully the next time you hear about him, it'll be when he's recovered and brought back to the fields to become a sheep again.

Here are some photos of the baby ewe a couple days after her birth. I also got some of Oakley, and all the other April lambs. They grow up quickly, and the April lambs are nearly the same size as their mothers now. There may be some more photos on our flickr page.

Here's the little ewe girl, maybe 3 days old. 
Our little Oakley, at about 3 weeks.
For comparison, here's one of the lambs about 3 months old, standing in front of a mother.

Oh, hi!

That's all the lambs for the Cotswolds. No more surprise bundles of sheep-ly joy until next year!

Later this week, we'll show you a step-by-step instructional on how to daub your 18th C backcountry cabin. Prepare to get muddy. 

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