February 12, 2012

A few of my favourite things, part 2 – guest blog by B_twin

 

I’ve loved sheep since I was a little kid. Drysdales (the breed) are wonderfully calm sheep with a lot of personality. Unfortunately, there aren’t many left in Australia (although there are still reasonable numbers in New Zealand.)

Firstly – gratuitous Die-Of-Cute pics.

"Awwwwwwww"

Due Date approaches.....

 

Lily’s Story 

Lily

 

Lily was an orphaned lamb that we bottle-reared a few years ago. She was always of a very sweet temperament – never becoming demanding and belligerent like some hand-reared ones can be.

Last year she had twin lambs and then tragedy struck. A fox attacked both lambs and then stole away with one, leaving Lily to stand mournfully over the remaining dead lamb.

This is what then happened (taken from my journal entry at the time):

“… there was a new – tiny – set of twins born to another ewe and while I was checking them out Lily came over and… tried to steal a lamb…

I’ve never actually seen a grieving ewe do this before. Ewes often will thieve prior to when they lamb but not 24hrs later after they have bonded with their own lambs.

So, Lily is trying to steal a lamb and I saw it was going to be a real problem for the new mum.

I wonder if…….

I raced back to the house to get little Imogen^ who, unfortunately, had been fed not long before so was not starving hungry.
As I went back to the paddock with Imogen trailing along after me I was calling out to Lily and she came over to meet me at the gate. Lily is baaing and Imogen is baaing.

This couldn’t work. Imogen is nearly 2 weeks old. No way.

Through the gate and Lily is checking out the lamb that is baaing. Oh, not hers. Imogen has forgotten a little what the other animals are besides the dogs and the 2-legged-mummy.

But still, I walked up the hill and Imogen followed. And Lily followed as well. I got them into a small yard and then went to get some reinforcements for the next challenge.

With Mum’s help I held Lily still while Imogen fussed about and “remembered” what the teat on the bag was. Imogen drank. Lily stood reasonably still – when held.
Lily was certainly interested in Imogen but the smell wasn’t right. For her to be interested at all though was amazing. She wasn’t butting her away which I would expect.

Next phase: Transfering the dead lamb’s smell.

It’s a very old shepherd’s trick to cover a lamb with the dead lamb’s pelt to fool a ewe into accepting a lamb. I’ve actually never tried it before. First time for everything.

I moved Lily out of sight of the lamb/Imogen while I strapped the lamb pelt onto Imogen. It’s not a super fit – she’s nearly 2 weeks old and the dead lamb was small. She ends up with bright blue baling twine and looks oddly like she’s wearing one of those stereotypical caveman outfits.

Lots of baaing going on and so I let Lily back in Imogen.

She sniffed the lamb’s back and she got excited, poor darling, then she got confused because the head and bum of Imogen doesn’t quite smell like her lamb.

Desperation to have her lamb won.

She let Imogen drink. 

I spent an anxious night wondering how things would go. Would I have a very hungry and confused lamb in the morning? Maybe I shouldn’t be too hopeful?

In the morning I discovered this:

Lily accepting Imogen as her adopted daughter

 

:) :) :)

And then they lived happily ever after… :)

_________

^Imogen was abandoned by her first-time mother. She was being bottle-reared just as Lily had been several years before.

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