By Robyn Rexin
COVID-19 has caused businesses, schools, and churches to close and people to stay indoors and away from one another but the virus can’t stop birthing at ranches.
Lambing at Aveley Ranch, which in other years tourists go and watch, starts April 1 but the first lamb born was on March 31. Buster, so named by the crew, was one of twins. The other twin did not survive and the mother almost died as well. Valerie Gerber warmed Buster up by the wood stove’s oven. As his mother had no milk Buster became the first bottle lamb.
For the lambing period, there is a drop field that holds all of the pregnant ewes. When they give birth the ewe and lamb or lambs are put into an individual pen for 24 hours. A ewe that has twins or triplets is called a multiple birth mom.
During lambing season there are eight shepherds/workers. Only one works during the night so that the day crew can sleep. The ranch had 650 pregnant ewes this year. They expect 900 lambs this season of which half will be twins. By the day of April 3, 10 sets of twins had been born.
That night the shepherdess had to deal with what is called a Big Splat. This is when all of a sudden, and within a very short period of time, there are a lot of births. Eight sets of twins, two sets of triplets, and eight singles were born.
In the past people have enjoyed going to Aveley Ranch to watch the births, cuddle the orphan lambs and bottle feed them if it is the right time, and also go on the hayride at the end. It is a tour that school groups often go on but one that will have to be set aside for next year.