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It's Raining Lambs!

Posted 3/13/2018 2:41pm by Kinley Coulter.

     What is the one bright spot when the shrieking cold wind thumps mercilessly against the farm house in mid-March?  Well, at least the unwelcome snow is traveling horizontally instead of vertically and it’s having a hard time accumulating on our farm fields here at Coulter Farms.  

     March has, indeed, 'come in like a lion'… but it has also brought with it a barn teeming with lambs.  It is peak lambing season right now.  We have tried to schedule all of our spring birthing on the farm to make it manageable… it seems that all of the farm animals appreciate lots of TLC at calving/lambing time.  I learned about how much 'mothers giving birth' appreciate attention, during the birth of my second son.  It was a particularly short but difficult labor and, afterwards, I (Dad) was feeling a little light-headed (two things I don’t handle very well are stress and blood and there had been an abundance of both). I had decided it would be better to be closer to the floor than standing.  So, I sat down rather abruptly in a chair.   The two nurses in the delivery room noticed this and in no time everybody was clustered around me catering to my every need...asking me ‘Are you OK?… and did I need some orange juice… how about a cookie, or some ice cream?… are you feeling overheated, dizzy, nauseous?… maybe I should put my feet up in the recliner?'  My poor, neglected, suffering wife observed this, somewhat impatiently, and blurted out a reproof for the rest of us… ‘HEY!  By the way, I’m the one that just had the baby… How about some attention for ME!   Well, I learned my lesson and the new mommas at our farm get the ‘Royal Treatment’...
     March works well for lambing in our farm operation. We have about 100 certified organic ewes bred, and they have birthed about half of the 150 lambs we are expecting, so far.  The frisking and ‘baah-ing’ in the lambing barn is quite the circus show.  Mother ewes are ‘chuckling’ at their lambs; and the lambs, after a few timid days getting started, are as spunky and full of energy as human teenagers full of iced coffee.  Our two favorite lamb ‘tricks’ are related.  The first cute trick is 'the vertical jump'.  Unable to contain their overflowing joy… just to be alive... the lambs will literally spring, vertically, (yes, straight up in the air), for no good reason.  When one does that, it’s cute.  When a barn full of lambs does it… well, it looks like a pan of fuzzy white popcorn kernels popping up out of hot oil.   The other common lamb trick builds on the 'vertical jump.'  The lambs will literally jump up onto their mother’s backs when the mommas are eating hay out of the feeders.  The mothers will patiently endure this, and the ewe and the lamb will  continue eating hay in ‘bunk-bed’ formation.   I went to get a picture of it, but of course, none of them will do it when you want them to.  
     The timing of March lambing dovetails perfectly with mid-April green pastures.  The lambs are just being involuntarily weaned by their impatient mommas.  The momma sheep are about disgusted with their oversized lambs head-butting momma’s  back legs off the ground to get a little more milk.  The disillusioned and famished lambs can then turn their attention to the vibrant, high energy, certified organic pasture that is literally bursting with new growth… just in time for a tsunami of hungry, fluffy, white lambs.
     Just as lambing is letting up by the end of March, the dairy herd of Jersey milk cows is ready to let loose their April calves.  The milk flow starts in earnest just as our farm market business is ramping up with the first warm days in April.  
     Last, but not least on our farm’s neo-natal calendar… the momma beef cows start dropping their adorable red and white, purebred Hereford, organic beef calves.  We are very glad to wait until May for our beef calves after all of the chaos of March lambs, and April Jersey calves.  No sooner does the beef herd get its calves going during May… then it’s hay season… but that’s for another article.  :).