Have I mentioned in the blog that we've been raising bum lambs? I keep meaning to take some pictures to post- but then I forget or Chris erases my memory card. Bum lambs are never a money making proposition. Typically they're "free" lambs that the producers are willing to give away in order to not have the hassle of messing with them. :-) We all know that there's no such thing as a free lunch, don't we?
So... to make a long story short... milk replacer is $47 for a 25 pound bag. Ouch.
We've been raising two lambs. One is a cute little ewe lamb with a spotted body (she'll grow out white) and really sweet little wool cap. She's also squirrelly as can be... we like her anyway. The other lamb was a twin whose momma had big teats. Big teats make it hard to nurse because it's hard to get their mouths working properly to get milk- especially if the ewe is engorged. His twin died and the producer (our 4-H leader) told us that we could take him (since we were looking for a companion to our ewe lamb).
The ewe lamb (Lily) is an easy lamb. She picked up on bottle feeding within about six hours of arriving here. She's gained steadily and started on feed well. The ram lamb (Leon) is not bright! He took about a week to catch on to bottle feeding. I don't know how many times I drenched him with a turkey baster to get some food in his stomach (all the while cursing that I didn't have a tube handy to just tube feed the sucker).
We banded Lily's tail when she was about a week and a half old. Leon had to wait because he still wasn't eating well and I didn't want to stress him. When he FINALLY was thriving Chris and I headed to the pen with the elastrator, intent on castrating him and banding his tail (to make the tail short). What a happy day for Leon- we realized he only had one testicle descended- so no castration that day.
About the point we'd invested in our third bag of $47 milk replacer a vet friend of ours came over to anesthetize Leon and try to manually work the testicle down. That didn't work. So, she took him back to the clinic and they operated to surgically castrate the lamb (which she assures me shouldn't cost more than $50). At this point we decided to use Leon as a market lamb for the fair because he was WAY too expensive to put in our freezer. On the plus side- he was gorgeous.
You all know where this story is going. Well, if you raise livestock you know where it's going. Bright and early on Friday morning Chris went out to feed. Leon was dead in the pen. Yep. Now there won't even be an expensive lunch- and I still have most of that last bag of milk replacer.
*random thought for the post- did you know that the word "elastrator" isn't in the spell check dictionary. How can that be? I've included a picture on the very rare possibility that the rest of the world doesn't know what an elastrator is.