When Jean knew it was time to have her babies, she isolated herself to the small granary at the back of the property. In anticipation for lambing, the granary had been cleaned and clean straw was spread out about a foot thick. Jean created a berm nest to protect her young ones from drafts by pawing the straw into a low wall along the door side. The granary wall was on the other side. When she was giving birth, she stayed in the nest and delivered her twins in the safety of the shelter, away from the wind and snow. It was minus ten and snowing outside with a very cold wind.
Quickly and efficiently, Jean cleaned her first born, the female ewe lamb and had her up and urged her to the udder to nurse. The little ewe was nursing a bit by the time the ram lamb was born. He was initially weaker than the female and marginally smaller, maybe by only about 4-5 ounces. Jacob twins are not large lambs, but they are strong with a strong will to live. Surival rates are extremely good. Jean quickly and efficiently cleaned the little boy so he would not get too cold and had him up and looking to nurse in a short time.
It is essential that newborn lambs nurse within a very short time of birth to use the colostrum, or fist milk, as an internal warmer. Once they have this milk inside, even a small quantity, they do not remain feeling cold. Jacob lambs are very hardy and are born with an excellent wooly coat. The amniotic fluid dries quickly and a good mother will continue to clean the babies which also stimulates them to get up and nurse.
When Jean decided to leave her shelter, she had to ensure her babies had bonded to her and were able to follow her and come to her calls. She spoke to them constantly so they knew her voice and her sound and smell. A mother sheep will check the smell of a lamb to identify it as her own.
Today the lambs were out of the shelter, Jean was eating alfalfa in the barn where she had taken them and they were following her without problems. There is snow on the ground from last night and the lambs are robust and playful. Their tails will not be docked, but they will receive vaccinations for basic illnesses that could possibly be life threatening. No other interferences are done or are necessary. Many shepherds routinely give the mother shots of vitamins, selenium, calcium and so on, and also give the babies selenium and vitamin E shots. This is not required with Jacob sheep. The sheep at the Fat Ewe Farm are strictly grass fed and are wormed primarily with herbs and garlic. All sheep are given some copper as well as research has demonstrated the need for copper, especially in primitive unimproved sheep such as the Jacobs.
The wool of the Jacob sheep is very soft and spongy, felts readily and also makes excellent wool for hand spinning. The pelts tan into beautiful sheep skins, too. A Jacob sheep can be milked, however; Jean has twins and I feel that she will need all the milk she can produce for those two little rascals.
Welcome little ewe and little ram, welcome to the Fat Ewe Farm and thank you Jean, my beautiful Jacob sheep!