With sleigh rides and new apprentices dominating the posts lately, the sheep have not really been in the limelight. However, lambing is just around the corner.
The ewes have a gestation period of roughly 5 months. They were bred in the fall, and their lambs are due to begin dropping on March 15, or thereabouts. The lambs will be around for the Maple Celebration, tails wiggling as they nurse from their moms; bleating and doing their legs-kicked-up dance around the pasture.
For anyone that comes to visit in the next few weeks, though, be on the look out for signs that the lambs are on their way.
What to look for:
Pregnant ewes have a rounder belly area towards the end of their gestation, though it can be hard for a person that does not see sheep often to tell. The belly will “drop” before the ewe is ready to lamb, and her flanks will become more visible.
A few days before lambing, a ewe’s udders will “bag up”, becoming much fuller, and heavier, looking, and filled with the lamb’s first milk (known as colostrum).
In the days before birthing, a ewe’s vulva will be noticeably swollen.
Behavior-wise a ewe may begin to act oddly, especially right before the birth: pawing the ground, stamping, sometimes laying down, or standing away from the flock.
Keep a look out for lambs on your visits to the farm in this next month. Lambs will be here soon!