This weekend, spring must have finally, officially arrived, because Baby Season has finally, officially begun. It's early this year!
First, we had a litter of Idaho Pasture Pigs born on Saturday. This is our first litter for 2016, and we are very pleased to report that (knock-on-wood, fingers crossed) they seem to be doing well. I type that with the protection of various anti-jinx hexes, because we've had some challenges so far with our past farrowing -- but so far, so good with these guys!
Then, yesterday, we had something totally (well, pretty much totally) unexpected -- a baby alpaca. Now, clearly I knew that the dam was pregnant, and I knew that she was due in the spring, but according to that theoretical 330-360 day gestation length for the species, she shouldn't be due until April at the earliest. I knew that it was possible for her to go early, but I thought she'd have more common sense than that!
Alas, this one (Prayer, nicknamed Bee, as in, "Witch with a...") did not read the section of the How To Be An Alpaca Manual that discusses gestation length. She thought that 318 days would be a fine time to cook her baby, and decided to push her out yesterday afternoon. She needed some help with this; in keeping with her name, she did not want to accept this help at first, but eventually (begrudgingly) acquiesced. Baby was slightly under-cooked (she has some signs of dysmaturity, meaning, basically, that she's slightly under-cooked), but not too badly. Mom has some milk, but not a ton, so between those two factors, we have ourselves another bottle baby. Also, it's still cold out and she weighs all of nine pounds, so she and mom are living in the garage at the moment.
So far, she is doing as well as can be expected for a nine-pound, premature cria, but that statement is also accompanied by the caveats: "Fingers crossed," "knock-on-wood."
So, pigs: Check. Alpacas: Weirdly early check. ... Okay, sheep. Your move!
Yesterday we had a very long, marathon trip to pick up some new additions -- mostly alpacas, all of which we are extremely pleased with -- plus a last-minute pickup: Ike the ram. This was clearly something that was "meant to be," because the timing was absolutely perfect -- we were already headed on a trip, and Ike was only an hour and a half from one of the farms we visited (Havenfield Farm, owned by our friend Kim Kline -- thank you Kim!).
So, here is Ike! What's so special about Ike? Well, other than the obvious (he's the cutest darned sheep you will ever see), there's the other obvious: He's spotted. And, he is a pure Babydoll Southdown, registered with the Olde English Babydoll Southdown Registry. He has a particularly unique, beautiful spotting pattern that I am very excited about for two reasons. One is that it is just plain cool to look at. The other is that it appears to be very highly heritable.
Ike is a two year old, and already proven as a breeder. He is the calmest, gentlest ram -- even calmer than Cheever.
Welcome home Ike!
We also picked up this absurdly adorable girl from the same farm (which turned out also to be a veterinary clinic, which turned out to be owned by one of my former classmates from Cornell Ag -- small world). She has the most perfect head I have ever seen on a sheep -- if anything, I would maybe like her to have a little bit less wool coverage on her face, and that is rare, for me. I swear, she does have eyes!
... In other sheep news, our first Babydoll Southdown lambs are due in T-minus two weeks ... Prepare for cute!
K writes this stuff, for some reason that has yet to become apparent.