Chilling in the sun on our kitchen terrace
We love animals. Every time we see a cute goat or sheep for example we start thinking… There used to be a lot of goats on our grounds, but then again they are just so naughty and we are busy enough.
But then the idea came up that if we go for sheep instead of goats and use them to do the mowing for us in the orchard, they actually might save us enough time to justify their addition to our livestock.
So we started carefully talking to ‘the auntie’ to ask befriended shepherds if they would sell one or to female lambs to us in the spring time. That was back in December and we thought we had plenty of time to prepare for their arrival and to learn more about their needs etc.
But guess what, on the 2nd of January we got a call from auntie: ‘where were you yesterday? We tried to reach you, but couldn’t get hold of you. Please pick up your lamb at our neighbours’. Whaaaaaat?
We are in Greece, but still, it was freezing in January, we were completely unprepared and a bit under a shock.
The first days we pretty much carried the little one all-day long
So we went to get the lamb. And a quick check confirmed: it’s a male. Only a day or two of age. Refusing to take it though would have been a difficult thing anyway (we live in a very small village after all) but especially with the knowledge that auntie’s neighbours wouldn’t be able to take care of it and that it would have to be brought up to the mountain again to his herd and would compete for milk with his twin sibling. So we kept him, thinking that we could still decide later what to do with him.
Our little lamb was super hungry and we rushed to the pharmacy to get a lamb nipple and to the supermarket for some milk to feed him.
The first sip
Next challenge was housing this little cutie. As mentioned it was freezing and both the shed for the donkeys as well as the chicken coop were neither equipped properly nor warm enough. So we did another trip to the (bigger) supermarket and bought a warming blanket and with that turned the nest box area in the chicken coop into a cozy lamb orphanage. In the meantime we had also found some feeding schedules for lambs. Every two hours me and our little toddler warmed the milk, put on our winter clothes, and to the chicken coop to feed this New Year’s surprise.
Still wanting to clarify if our ‘order’ had just gone wrong and if we would get another female lamb after all, we talked to auntie, who confirmed she was surprised as well and ensured us that she only asked for females (the ‘spring’ constraint probably got overlooked) and that she reminded the shepherd again that we were not up for another male lamb. One ram (a grown up male) is tricky enough, but two rams competing was not something we wanted to try.
Lamb Bottlefeeding – in the beginning we went out every 2 hours
As tough as it was (especially the late feeding at night and the early one before even our toddler got up), but it was so much fun and joy to see it growing up and getting stronger and to see how it turned into a cute playmate as well.
So we were sort of settled, had embraced the new situation and had just removed the warming blanket from the shed. After an evening feeding we took a walk to auntie in anticipation of some small talk, a good greek coffee and a child who would be nicely tired and ready for bed after a nice long winter walk.
But when we arrived, she told me excitedly that our second lamb was awaiting and that uncle would be there in a bit to help us carry it home. It was still January, not spring. And it was a male, again…
‘Nummer eins’ (number one) and ‘Nummer zwei’ (number two) – very creative names, but we were hoping for our toddler to come up with something more fun – grew and grew, we fed and fed and it started to come spring time. Finally. Time to put them to good use and have them mowing our orchard.
Ha, they mowed. Intensely. But not the only the orchard. They were like little puppies running after us all day rather than staying in the orchard and were munching everything but the grass they were supposed to eat. So we had to start flocking them which was all game and fun until they became so big and dangerous for our toddler that we had to keep them inside with the donkeys (the intense sun required regular moving several times a day so that I had to take our little one with me avery now and then – plus she wanted to pet them desperately).
But not all hope is gone: ultimately they will require less shelter from the sun again and we can flock them in the orchard for a fresh start and in the meantime we found out that sheep wool is actually claimed to be an amazing mulch in the veggie garden! (Currently testing this and will post our insights later on, a few pics below but more to follow).
However, soon one of them probably has to leave or be ‘transformed’ (castrated that is) into a wether because their horns have grown significantly and they started fighting. Oh well, we will certainly find yet again another excuse, ahem reason, to keep both of them and to possible acquire more sheep in the not to distant future 😉