Tag Archives: livestock guardian dog
Every year, we end up with a number of bum (orphan) lambs. They are motherless due to a variety of circumstances. Some ewes have more lambs than milk. Sometimes a ewe dies, leaving an actual orphan. Some lambs are weak, or injured, or just lost.
We sometimes are asked why these motherless lambs are called “bums”. It’s because they are “bumming” milk from their compatriots, or at least the most successful ones do.
This year, we have ended up with more bums than usual, partly due to our decision to lamb all the almost two-year-old ewes in the sheds. They did produce more lambs than milk. These are lambs that might have died on the range, so we are glad to have them back at the Home Ranch. This year, we decided to go all in, and raise them in an “organized” manner.
Raising bum lambs involves a lot of extra time, labor and money, as we purchase lamb milk replacer, which costs somewhat more than illegal drugs. This year, our efforts to supplement the lambs has been aided by Lady, the livestock guardian dog mom. We put her and her seven puppies with the multitudes, figuring it would be a good bonding experience for lambs and puppies alike.
Little did we expect that Lady would take her responsibilities so seriously.
I spoke too soon when I said the winter was just about right, and that we wouldn’t need more additional feed on the Red Desert. We have since had lots of snow and wind. In the mountains, where we live, we have had LOTS of snow. On the Red Desert, where most of the sheep are wintering, we’ve had snow and wind. This is usually a good combination, since the wind opens up the underlying grasses, but this year we’ve had enough snow to cover up the feed. At the Home Ranch, we’ve had enough snow that the tractors have been getting stuck, making it hard to feed the cows. Today, Eamon hauled extra feed to the ewes, and we’ve had folks in to unstick the tractors. All the animals have been fed, thanks to lots of time of effort on the part of family and valued employees.
We now swing toward the winter solstice. Days grow shorter and nights grow longer. The time for caring for livestock is well and truly upon us. The cows need sustenance to nurture the calves growing within them. For the ewes and rams, it’s the breeding season, and good nutrition is essential. All of us–man and beast, domestic and wild–are hunkered down and hoping for a “just right” winter. We need snow, but not too much. We need wind, but not too much. We need sun and grass and corn. We will rejoice when the world turns and the days grow longer.