Thursday, August 5, 2010
With the yee-hawing and laughing coming from the barn last night, you wouldn't guess we were tagging lambs. Past ear tagging have left me cursing -- and one year, left me lying in the grass, looking in the sky, and proclaiming, "I'm not concussed." That was after a ram lamb jumped while I was leaning over him. He knocked me in the forehead and gave me two black eyes. Ear tagging may be my least favorite lambing job. That seems strange coming from a girl who pierced her own ears. But I'd rather do vaccines, nail trimming, and deworming over that. It's the one of the two sheep jobs I leave to the husband. Thus, I procrastinate about doing it. But, since the night was a touch cooler, we decided to de-worm the lambs. While we were doing that, it made sense to punch the numbered scrapies tags into their ears. So, the husband held the three-to-four-month-old lambs while I squirted dewormer into their mouths. Young lambs are unpredictable. Some jump and fight being constrained. Some accept the dewormer. A few give up and go limp. The first few times this happened, I was sure I'd killed them. Now, I laugh, and shake their heads a little. "Come on baby, it's not so bad," I tell them. After giving the dewormer, it's the husband's turn to punch in the ear tags. The USDA vet showed me a handy way to constrain lambs while tagging. She straddled them, and gave them a squeeze between their legs. They weren't going anywhere. That's what I did last night. I also held my right hand over the lamb's head. No more having a lamb rear up and hit me in the head. Most lambs respond well to this restraint. A few buck and squirm and knock me off balance. I throw my hand in the air, yell yee-haw, and imagine riding the bronc for 10 seconds. And then I remember. The lambs only weigh 50 to 60 pounds, and my feet never leave the ground.