Basically, our first experience of lambing was pretty horrendous. We’d sort of prepared: we had supplies of colostrum and milk powder, two feeding bottles with lamb teats, an elastrator with rubber rings and a woolly lamb jacket. As it turned out, those things were vital and we used them all, so yay us. But in other respects – especially where shelter was concerned-- our preparation was woefully inadequate. It didn’t help that the weather was absolutely the worst we’ve experienced here to date: gales, snow and freezing, lashing rain for the better part of ten days.
In a nutshell, ten lambs were born and we lost four, plus a ewe. Two of the lambs were lost because of our inexperience (we didn't get enough colostrum into them after their mum rejected them) and two because of the weather. We lost the ewe because we didn’t have the medication she needed. Oh, the lessons we’ve learned.
We had lambs in our laundry for almost three weeks. Two died, two survived. When we started running out of newspapers and floor-mopping energy, Farmer Wan constructed the LAMBorghini (see pic below) to contain them. It saved a lot of work but it also meant we could no longer hear little hooves clattering around the place, which was kind of a shame.
On the plus side of the affair, the two weeks of lambing coincided exactly with Farmer Wan’s R&R break home. I really don’t think I could’ve managed on my own. We also had a lot of support from our neighbours and friends: spare newspapers and drop-sheets for the laundry floor, extra hot water bottles, two beautifully-built sheep shelters, alternative teats for the bottles, help with feeding the laundry lambs and even some muffins to feed us!
So... with the laundry lambs now roughing it in the great outdoors, we have six little ovines bouncing around the place. Every afternoon between three and four o’clock they go mental, chasing each other around and finding the highest piece of ground as a look-out. I’ve taken some film footage and I’ll try to post it here sometime soon. In the meantime, enjoy the photos. And for the sake of posterity, the full, day-by-day account of our lambing travails can be found here.
Posted by Farmer Nik
If last year's anything to go by, we won't get daffodils until mid-October, so I thought I'd celebrate the first day of Spring by introducing you to these guys. They spent most of June under snow, they've been frosted solid more times than I care to count and yet they've bloomed constantly since January. They're tough little plants and those wee "kitten" faces crack me up. Viva Jolly Jokers! You're wonderful, even though you're naughty old hybrids with useless seed.
Today was balmy and mild, just the way an early spring day should be. The weather's meant to turn to custard tomorrow but it should be mostly fine by Wednesday, which is when our first lambs are due. There'll probably be blow-by-blow accounts of birthing and lots of photos. Be warned.
Our first anniversary at Muntanui has already passed (27 August). I deferred all the feasting and merriment until Farmer Wan gets home for his next R&R break. He's due back on Monday. We'll no doubt spend some time reflecting on everything that's happened in the past year, but to be honest, I'm more interested in the year to come. There are some serious projects on the horizon that will change Muntanui forever -- and, we think, for the better.
Still, we can't pass up an opportunity to drink bubbles and make fulsome toasts because, hey! We actually made it through our first year! We managed not to kill off all our animals -- or each other. And we're more in love with this place than ever. Thanks to everyone who has helped us in any way. You've written yourselves into the Muntanui story and we appreciate your support. Slainte! Kia ora! Cheers!
Posted by Farmer Nik
About Ewan and Niki
Scottish mechanical engineer with a deep and abiding passion for good food. Outstanding cook. Builder of lots of stuff. Cattle whisperer. Connoisseur of beer. A lover rather than a fighter.
Kiwi writer and broadcaster who hates cabbage, even though she knows it's good for her. Chook wrangler. Grower of food and flowers. Maker of fine preserves. Lover of dancing and wine. Definitely a fighter.