Rosie on Rampage!
Rosie spent the night in the house and here in the morning she’s trying to see if Sunny, our blue heeler, will be her mom. What a racket those tiny little hooves make on the wood floors!
Rosie is such a big robust lamb it was a bit of a challenge to have her inside yesterday afternoon and night. She’s practically Sunny’s size! I’ve had bottle lambs inside before – one last year for nearly a month – but they are always tiny and pretty easy to keep inside a laundry bucket when we’re not in to supervise. But as soon as Rosie gained her temperature back, she was leaping out of everything I put her in. What a cutie pie, though!
It is always tempting to keep a lamb in the house because they are so darn cute. There are multiple problems, however, not the least of which is cleaning up after them. But for the lamb itself, there are issues with learning how to do basic things like eating grass. Nursing, and thus bottling, is pretty much instinctual, but a lamb learns to graze and drink water by sticking at its mother’s side constantly and doing what she does. Probably 95 percent of a lamb’s waking life is spent in the same posture as its mother. A lamb in the house will eventually learn to eat hay and then grass, but it may be too late to provide important vitamins and minerals for health and development. Last year I had a lamb inside that developed polio (which is not a contagious disease like in humans) as a result of a B vitamin deficiency. I gave him B injections, but it wasn’t enough to get him on track.
Perhaps most importantly, sheep are herd animals and have an absolute need to be with other sheep. Rosie is struggling to find someone to hang out with all day, and I’m sore tempted to let it be me. But I’ve had other “heel pets,” bottled goats and sheep that stuck right next to my heels all day while I worked in the garden, and while I’ve enjoyed their constant company tremendously, I haven’t had one live past 9 months. So for her sake, I’m forcing Rosie to tough it out in the pasture. She cries out for company a lot and she keeps trying to tag along with different groups to see if someone will accept her. It’s heartbreaking to hear and watch. But at some point in the next few weeks, the lambs will start to hang out with each other more than they hang with their moms ( I guess that’s adolescence! ) and she should have buddies then if not before.
I will continue to feed her every four hours with the bottle, though, even though I think she’ll keep stealing from Pink and whatever mom she can find that’s distracted enough to let her nurse. Bottle babies are super fun because whenever you come outside they come tearing for you, bleating at full force and making you feel loved beyond all reason.