Monthly Archives: June 2016
It’s that time of year. In order for our calves to be born in a timely manner next spring, the cows must become pregnant now, or soon. Most of them will manage this in the traditional way, which involves a close, if brief, relationship with a bull–preferably one of our choosing. Some of the cows will have a close encounter with a straw of bull semen. What this encounter lacks in romance it makes up for in the quality of the afore-mentioned semen. Artificial insemination allows us to breed the cows to bulls which have been carefully selected for characteristics we like, while not having to buy and support very high-priced bulls. If, for some reason, the cows do not respond to the attention of Adam, Megan and Hallie–well–there’s always the actual bulls who are willing to work to ensure a spring calf crop!
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.