Today marked a glorious day of graduation and coming of age at our house. It was one that caused me to celebrate and almost brought a tear to my eye. No, no it was not one of my kids. That will be next year for one and somewhere in the next decade (if we are lucky for the other one). Today was the day that we ran out of the last scoop of lamb milk replacer and therefore the bottle lambs were weaned.
This was a day that I had been looking forward to for months. At one point this year we had twelve bottle lambs, which is about thirteen too many. Sure, they are cute and it is kind of fun that they run up to you in the pen and act like the like you. But the reality of the situation was that mixing the bottles and feeding the lambs added a good thirty minutes to my chores each morning, noon, early afternoon and evening.
To be quite honest I am not sure who is happier, Jennifer or me. No bottle-feeding lambs means no more lamb milk replacer in the utility room and no more mixing lamb milk in the sink. I don’t care how careful you are there is no way to scoop the stuff out without spilling a little on the floor. The same could be said about mixing the bottles on the counter. It is hard to stir the stuff up and not have it slop over the side. One dilemma I do have is what to do with my measuring cup and mixing bowl. Jennifer bought them for me as a present, I kind of got the feeling she did not like me using her good glass measuring cup and mixing bowl. She also bought me a shower caddy that served as a bottle carrier, when you must have a carrier for all your bottles that is when you know you have too many bottle lambs (and it took two carriers).
It was nice to be able to put my jacket and boots on without having to remember to take the carrier downstairs with me. Of course, there were several angry little lambs who had assumed they would be bottle fed for the rest of their lives and did not think this was such a good idea. They will eventually get over it, in fact, by the time I had finished with the other chores they had forgotten about me and were in the feeder. I think I could have weaned them earlier but I still had some milk left and I am too tight to throw it out and I am not going to try to save it for next year.
OK before I get a lot of feedback. Yes, I know that having that many bottle lambs shows a real management problem. I have been accused of becoming too attached to ewes and cows and that was probably the case. I tried to get one more year and one more ewe lamb one too many times and it came around to bite me. There has already been one rather large load of cull ewes that made their way to the sale and there will be another one next month. I maybe a slow learner but eventually I figure it out.
I am also aware that there are buckets, other devices and holders that one can use to feed multiple lambs and not have to do it by hand. I had too many different ages and I have a fear of each lamb not getting enough milk so I hand feed them. No one ever accused me of doing things the easy way either. I guess I must secretly enjoy bonding with my lambs.
A couple of months ago when we were feeding the lambs four times each day it seemed like this day would never come. Each morning when I was bum rushed by a herd of mad, hungry little piranhas, it couldn’t get here fast enough. Even though it was a real pain and not much fun most of the time and my life is now infinitely easier, and some good did come out of this experience.
For one, we found out we do not drink much soda pop in our house any more. We use twenty-ounce soda bottles to feed with and it was a struggle to get new bottles. I might also be able to make peace again with our barn cat who had an affinity for eating the nipples right off those pop bottles (of course, we would not have had those fights if I would have remembered to put the bottles up). The biggest accomplishment was raising and weaning a whole set of triplets. Once again proving that you can always find a positive in any situation.