Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More baby lambs!

From Julie H., historical interpreter:

Today is a very busy day here at the Frontier Culture Museum! We had three baby lambs born today, two of which came late morning in the middle of a large school group from Fluvanna County.

The first one was born on our English farm. The baby Cotswold lambs have been arriving all week. I'll post some photographs of the ones born earlier this week, and then our newest little one. The Cotswold are an older English breed of sheep, and have a nice long thick curly wool.

Here's this morning's baby. Mama was very protective, and did her best to keep me from getting a good photo! Notice that Mama Sheep hasn't been shorn yet. Now that she's given birth, she'll be one of the next on the list to shear.
 She decided to take the newborn for a walk, farther away from me.
 Those little legs are only a few hours old, and they do wobble, but they can move!

The second two lambs arrived on our 1850s farm,and I think they're the last Tunis sheep for the season.
Mother Sheep licks her two lambs clean.
*****One of our visitors (who wished to remain anonymous) just sent a recording of the birth this afternoon! When our 1850s staff noticed the sheep in labor, they noticed that a head but only one leg were sticking out instead of two. That's bad. Our livestock director came immediately to push the baby lamb back in, grabbed both front legs, and helped the sheep give birth. The second baby lamb had the same problem, and our livestock director assisted again.
Of course, this all happened in front of 50 first graders. Ahh, the miracle of birth!
You'll notice in this video that as soon as the lamb is out of the mother, our livestock director swings the baby lamb back and forth. He is not hurting the lamb- he is helping clear its lungs so that it can breathe. Complicated births can be dangerous for both lamb and mother, and it is important to help get the baby breathing as soon as possible.

Wool Days might be nearing an end, but there are still plenty sheep left to shear! Call ahead and stop on by to see us shear!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Baby Lambs!

From Julie H., historical interpreter:

Happy Spring, everyone! Even though Mother Nature seems to think it's summer (90 degrees yesterday!), we are gearing up for our spring celebrations.

Many of you have been waiting for this announcement: We have baby lambs! They are all a week to two weeks old, and were born on our American farms. I wish I could've gotten photos up sooner, but between the unexpected snow storms, and our busy season with school groups, there's barely been time! Luckily, our facebook team posted the arrival of the baby lambs with an adorable photograph, and we also have some photos on our flickr page, taken by Jack Cameron. Here's two of them:

 These sheep were quite a novelty in the early 19th Century!
The Tunis breed of sheep, also known historically as Barbary Sheep, come from Tunisia in North Africa. They came to America at the end of the 18th C as a gift from the ruler of Tunisia, and were given to a judge in Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson got the breed shortly after, and became a strong advocate for its use. It gives both a good meat, and a sturdy wool.
People in Jefferson's time were used to English breeds of sheep, which were primarily white, black, or grey. So a brown-faced sheep was quite exciting! And the most interesting thing about Tunis sheep, as you can see, is that they are born entirely brown, and slowly turn white after a few months. This made them even more desirable and popular, and the breed spread across the East Coast.

While none of my own photos of them on the farms turned out, I did manage to get these two little guys hobbling around our break room. Their mother died shortly after giving birth, so we've been bottle feeding them. I believe this is Cathy and Chrissy, named after the wives of the 1820s and 1850s farm families.

Check back again soon, because our fluffy white English lambs should be appearing any day now!