“Rejection” Update

Tate and his sister

It’s been ten days since our littlest guy began his bottle feedings. In the beginning, I had to lift him to a standing position so that he’d feed (as if he was nursing from mom) and when finished, he’d find his spot, curl up, and  lie down again. I’ll admit: I had my doubts he’d make it.

Tate has since graduated from drinking a half cup of replacer at each feeding to almost a full cup. He’s still relatively small in stature compared to the other lambs his age and his actions are a bit tentative. However, his feedings in the morning are quite aggressive—a good sign that his strength is building (slowly, but increasing).

We have been careful to watch momma Brownie as well. It’s still a mystery as to why she rejected him in the first place. Our good friend and fellow Churro breeder, Linda Cummings, suggested we keep Brownie under close supervision because apparently these situations have been known to become violent. In this case, I suppose it’s a good thing Brownie wants nothing to do with Tate.

Oh, don’t worry though–he’s getting plenty of love and attention from us and from his sister. Churro siblings seem to instantly bond. She is as playful and as loving as she can be. In a week to ten days, everyone will be out on pasture and in one, big, happy flock so he’ll have lots of support from the other 16 newbies!


Brownie (named for her caramel color) is one of our most affectionate, sweet, and lovable ewes. She had a single lamb last year—a little brown girl, Friday. She twinned this year: the first, a little brown girl and the second a little white boy.

One of the first signs you look for in newborns, once they’re on their feet (which is normally minutes after being cleaned by their moms) is whether they’ve latched on to mom’s udder. The first pulls provide the colostrum from momma which is essential to getting baby off to a healthy start. Imagine our surprise when Brownie would not let either baby latch on, especially the little white ram-lamb. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch a wobbly little newborn attempt to bond and the mom keeps inching away or turning from the baby.

Some say rejection can be rooted in the baby’s color. I don’t know if it was the case here but I’m suspecting it might play a part in her rejecting the little white ram-lamb. Brownie nuzzles him and will answer him…sometimes (other moms will call out immediately to newborns) but her attitude just seems different with the little brown girl.

Yesterday, we brought him in the house. He appeared so weak and thin and cold all of a sudden; it’s amazing how quickly they can slide downhill.

We placed him in a towel, under a heating blanket on “high” and held him for hours while giving him Purina’s “Kid Milk Replacer” with a syringe. It is a powder formula you mix with hot water– specifically for livestock babies.

After five hours inside, offering replacer and warm water, he appeared a little more energetic so we took him back out to momma’s stall. She seemed genuinely happy to see him. Nevertheless, we’ll keep a watchful eye on him, keep the replacer coming at prescribed intervals (he drank a full “dose” this morning!) and, of course, bring him to cuddle on the couch….often.

How close is the lambing???

Our first lambing season was incredibly exciting because we had absolutely no clue what to look for in a ewe that was close to delivering. The entire family constantly ran to the barn for “ewe-checks” to see if a lamb had just dropped out.

Linda Cummings (Shepherd’s Loft Farm) had given us a few pointers—physical traits to be on the look-out for—still, at four months, I was convinced Reese was ready to deliver at any minute (sheep gestation is five months).

Here are some photos taken this morning with some ewes drawing closer to their due dates. As I’ve said before, the Churro tend toward multiple births and it’s rather easy to tell who will “twin” at this point. This late in the game, the babies are putting on most of their weight which really makes the ewe’s belly protrude.

Reese - "Rounding-up"

On Reese, you can see how she’s “rounding-up” on the sides. Late in the gestation period, the lambs appear to move forward from mom’s back hips and make a mound on each side of the ewe.

In this next picture Pixie, a first-time mom this year, is carrying twins (99 percent sure).

Pixie "hollows"

Notice the area along her spine seems to have “hollowed out”?  That’s another trait to look for signifying the late stages of pregnancy. My camera was flash-happy and evened out the shadows or the “hollows” would have been easier to see.


One sure-fire way to tell that lambing is just days away is the ewe’s udder. In preparation for the lamb’s arrival, the ewe will “bag-up.”  Her udder will begin to fill with milk and the physical change in the udder is undeniable.

This will be our fifth lambing season and, although we now have a few years experience, it is still an incredibly exciting event.

Between you and me?  You can mark on your calendar exactly five months from when the ewes and the ram were together…and you’ll be able to predict arrivals within days. Still, it would take the fun out of running out to the barn every few hours during that last month to see if a lamb has “dropped.”


Reese - The Matriarch

I laughed out loud when I took this picture.

I was so careful to line up behind Reese. I wanted that perfectly square-on shot from her back end to show her growing abdomen (her lambing is just weeks away). Normally, she doesn’t let anyone stand behind her for too long. She is the matriarch, after all, and is usually front and center with everything and everyone.

The reason I wanted the picture in the first place, was to show her symmetrical, expanding abdomen.

Rosie - A Riveting Image

With only two weeks left until the start of lambing, the ewes that appear to be carrying twins are shaping up nicely — almost as if they have saddle bags hung neatly on each of their sides.

Early in the gestation, I jump to all sorts of conclusions based on the way they are “presenting.” One year, I was convinced Reese was only carrying one lamb (she has always twinned). She was carrying so low, and her sides just didn’t seem to protrude like they did in years past. When she went into labor, we watched in amazement and delight as she gave birth to triplets!

This year’s shaping up to be just as exciting….stay tuned!



Colette was to be one of our “new moms” (everyone is due in a couple of weeks). She was bred for the first time last October when we brought “Blue,” the ram, to our farm.

With Colette, we knew we’d have a special delivery, or deliveries (Churro tend to have multiples). She’s a big girl and has great Churro conformation. Not only that, but her temperament is so very sweet. So, like I said, we knew she was going to “throw” special babies. I was certain.

About 10 days ago, David came in from the barn and said one of the ewes had given birth during the night. I knew instantly the lamb couldn’t have lived. None of the ewes were at full-term (5 months).

After checking all the ewes in Colette’s stall, we found evidence it was Colette who had miscarried. I was headed to New York that day for a shoot and left, heartbroken.

She seemed to be acting fine. She was eating. There was no additional discharge. We all just figured Nature had run its course and, for whatever reason, the odds were against that little ram-lamb.

I was shocked to learn (once again, on another shoot a week later in NY) that Colette was in labor again. It hadn’t even dawned on any of us she could still be carrying another lamb!

Unfortunately, she needed assistance to deliver; this lamb was, also, stillborn. David ended up calling the vet at midnight and I was so glad he did. Dr. Dickerson helped deliver a sour afterbirth and administered antibiotics to clear any infection.

Colette - on the mend

After 5 years of lambing, this is our first experience with a miscarriage. It’s a very sad occurrence but, thankfully, Colette seems better now and hopefully, she’ll have a better go of it next year. She’ll be a wonderful mom with beautiful babies; it’ll be worth the wait.