Riddlesden Jacobs

A site about a West Yorkshire flock of Jacob Sheep

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Kevin and Snuffles’ Adventures – 2

IMG_3851 (640x480)On Friday Kevin and Snuffles moved to their new more permanent home on at the field. They have a pen in the shed where they will stay for a while. We will let them out while we’re there and we’ll play with them and try and get them used to being amongst the flock but for a little while yet they need to be penned in when we’re not there.

They disagree. The first iteration of the pen was nowhere near secure enough. within minutes Snuffles climbed through the gate on to the hay bale that was supposed to be blocking her in. So we put two bales on top of each other (tied on so they can’t fall off and kill a lamb). That seemed to work ok but when Anne went to feed them in the evening Kevin had got out into the neighbouring pen where number 12 was with Dewey and then out. Snuffles was screaming her head off and there was  carnage with lambs all over the place and generally with the wrong ewes.

Once that was sorted, Anne added a barricade to the front of Number 12’s pen and that IMG_3944 (640x480)worked. They now seem quite settled in their little pen.

We have been going on and spending time with the lambs and encouraging them to move and play. In fact Kath has been doing little hill repeats with Snuffles. Kevin is more interested in nibbling things and he’s far too lazy to actually run. He will come for a little trot though, if he must. His priority though seems to be chewing things. To try and put some fun back into lambing season we took a picnic on to the field and sat in the sun. Kevin in particular really took an interest and tried to chew everything he could reach.

On Saturday morning Snuffles and Kevin were the stars of Riddlesden. Walkers came by and stopped to watch them and for one or two who didn’t have dogs we took them over to the fence to say hello. Kevin seemed non-plussed and kept nosing the ground and chewing on sticks. Snuffles however thought it was about time she got the proper attention she deserved. Mum called her Madam Snuffles – with some justification it seems.

Neither of the lambs will venture far away from us when we’re there. We’re going to have try and encourage them to toddle off on their own away from us. Maybe we can get them to play with the other lambs – or at least go and have a look at them. It would be great to get them outside more of the time even if we pop them back in the pen at night.

Watch this space as the Adventures of Snuffles and Kevin continue.




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Kevin and Snuffles’ Adventures – 1

The bottle fed twins decided they wanted to live and have been little hooligans ever since. They
IMG_3834 (640x480)spent their first night in our shower room which is easy to clean but can be kept warm as it has a radiator in it (we put the thermostat in there and turned the radiators off in the rest of the house). After that first night we moved them to the utility room, lined the floor with newspaper and made a bed with straw. They flooded it several times a day. As we’ve mentioned before – lambs pee a lot.

Kevin and Snuffles quite liked being in the house I think and they were good as gold really. They seemed to understand being put to bed and they slept through without a peep from midnight until 6am. In fact most mornings Kath had to wake them when she got back from her early morning field check. They spend a lot of time bouncing around the house and following Kath around. Snuffles learned how to climb the stairs and then taught Kevin. Retrieving lambs from under our bed became a thing to do – as did running up and down our driveway being followed by lambs or muttering ‘please don’t pee in my shoes’ or ‘Kevin, don’t mount your sister’…20170321_102410 (480x640)

There are a few videos and pictures of them at home over on our Facebook page and they are cute and they do make me smile but having lambs at home is relentless. During the day you don’t get a second’s peace. They are learning all the time, they are figuring out life and so you can never assume they can’t or won’t do something. There were the stairs, the nuzzling cat biscuits, the curling up in the cat litter tray, the pulling pizza off my plate and getting stuck down the side of the garage. There were meetings with the cats, the difficulty of getting four legs to work together on wet slippery laminate flooring and there was the learning how to pee on the fresh IMG_3821 (640x480)newspaper as soon as it has been put down. A special skill Snuffles soon perfected.

Kevin and Snuffles had adventures in our house but it was definitely time to get them out. Our cats need therapy and we need a rest. They now go longer between feeds during the day so now they need to learn to be sheep. We took them on to the field on Friday afternoon. More on that in Adventures – 2.


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What goes in must come out

Lambs pee a lot! I forget just how much from bottle fed lamb to bottle fed lamb. How is it


Snuffles aged about 30 hours

possible that when you put 150ml in, gallons come out. I have been at work (ok ok, I’ve been in a hotel bar in Leeds having productive conversations with a lovely colleague) for a lot of the day today while Kath has looked after the lambs. But even in the time I have been here I have had several pee incidents. Kevin peed on my foot, twice; Snuffles peed down my leg and she’s got a good aim because she also managed to pee straight into my jacket pocket as I was carrying her out the door to make her run up and down our drive for a bit. The car keys seem to have survived but my train pass looks a bit worse for wear. I’ve also stood in several puddles.

Anyway, updates. The weather is horrible and I am once again worried sick but all ewes are fine and not showing any signs of lambing imminently. The next two should be due on Wednesday/Thursday but there are two unknowns. We are continuing the frequent checks. I’ll be going on in a little while – in the middle of a thunder storm by the sound of things out there. The weather forecast just now mentioned the possibility of snow. Great.

IMG_3752The triplets are thriving and it was lovely to see them bouncing about and playing around the shed door when we went to feed the ewes earlier. Number 6 is struggling a little. She has a bit of a smelly backend and possibly a little bit of a discharge. We have given her some more antibiotics and the vet confirmed the ones we have are the best ones and advised another dose in 3 day’s time. If that doesn’t sort it, we might have to take her down to the vet’s just to make sure there isn’t any internal damage from the prolapse and tricky birth. She seems ok in herself and it clearly feeding and looking after the triplets. We’ll keep an eye on her.

Kevin and Snuffles have decided to embrace life. They look and behave like different lambs to the ones we brought home on Saturday and even the difference between yesterday and this morning is huge. We took them with us to Kath’s mum’s for Sunday lunch yesterday and they spent most of the time asleep with one or two little wobbly 30 second run arounds. Watching them develop is phenomenal. Snuffles seems to have grown into her skin and isn’t quite as wrinkly as she was. Her horns are also pushing through and she keeps trying to scratch her head with her back leg. This morning she kept falling over, this evening she can do it. Kevin’s horns are also pushing on and he IMG_3745has, in the last 24 hours, developed some sharp little teeth which he has taken to sinking into my toes. When I put them to bed last night, bottle feeding was a bit tricky. They weren’t entirely confident with the bottle and needed to be held on my knee and then have their head held and the bottle held in place. This morning they woke up seemingly having learned how to latch onto a bottle and suck the hell out of it.

Kath has spent a lot of time playing with them today and they are much more confident on their feet. They have been bouncing around our house and this afternoon have had a little outing into the garden and onto the drive. We seem to have exhausted them and they have been asleep for the last 4 hours. This is a really good sign. They are now able to take on enough milk to keep them going for quite a while. Yesterday they managed 30-50ml max, this evening Kevin would have guzzled a 450 ml bottle in one go if we’d let him (we stopped him – we don’t want him to get bloated). Snuffles, who is much smaller, had 200ml earlier.

Snuffles and Kevin will stay with us at home until all the other lambs have arrived in case we need the shed for a maternity unit. By the time we’re ready to take them on to the shed they should be on pretty regular and relatively large feeds which means they’ll be able to go through the night quite well. Right, I’m going to get ready to wake them and feed them.  Somehow I’m going to have to do both at once – otherwise the one not on the bottle will scream the place down and wake Kath. Wish me luck.

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Meet Kevin and Snuffles

Today has been one of those roller coaster lambing days. I am writing this with a little ram lamb (Kevin) on my knee. Some time between just after midnight and just after 4am black faced ewe had twins. When Kath got there the little girl was laid out and the ram lamb was cold and shivering. She brought them into the shed. The ewe had just been standing staring at them. She had obviously licked them dry a little but not that much. Kath used our home made lamb box (hot water bottle under straw and a towel over the top) to bring them round. Both has some colostrum replacer with the little girl having most of it and they seemed to come round. Both were up and both has a little drink off the ewe. Kath came away to let them settle.


She went back  an hour later and they seemed to be ok although the ewe wasn’t being very attentive. We then went on together about 9am ish and again the lambs seemed to be doing ok but the ewe was mostly just staring at them. We had hoped to get lambmacs on them and then get them out but they were clearly not yet ready for that. We needed to nip into town and buy sheep food and we thought we’d pick up some more colostrum
replacer too, just in case. Glad we did! We decided we’d see what the lambs were like again on the way back.

When we got back, the gimmer lamb has gone downhill rapidly and the ewe wasn’t interested. We got a hot water bottle on the lamb and made another bottle of volostrum up and tried to get her to take some. She had a few tiny little sips. The ram lamb was shivering. It was clear that the ewe had given up on or rejected the gimmer lamb so we decided to take her home.  The ewe was protective over the ram lamb so we thought maybe if she could focus on him, she’d mother him more. We took her home and tried to get her warm and some life into her. There didn’t seem to be much fight. Kath then went back to check if black faced ewe had made any atIMG_3664 (640x480)tempt to get the ram lamb up and drinking while mum and I sat rubbing the gimmer lamb and sort of waiting for her to die. The ram  was bleating at the ewe and she was just staring at him. Kath brought him home. Mum and I then sat with a lamb each on our knees rubbing them and keeping them warm and I think we were both fairly convinced they would die. Kath made us some lunch and we just kept trying to get lambs warmed through and worried about them not drinking at all.

Slowly slowly slowly thought they warmed up a little. Once there was a little bit of warmth in them we wondered if we dare hope. Then the gimmer found her voice and then she peed all over me. Sings of life. The ram lamb was still going downhill. He’d seemed stronger when we got him home but now he couldn’t hold his own head up. But our lamb box, a fire and the sun through the window did the job. The lambs warmed up and once properly warmed though tried more food. They finished the volostrum we’d made for them and had a little normal lamb milk. It felt like they might come round and they could even both stand and take a few steps. Then the gimmer lamb just collapsed again. Just standing for a minute or so had exhausted her completely.

When it started to look like the lambs might make it, they needed names. Bottle fed lambs get names, even the ones like Lily the year before last who aren’t with us very long. We were joking about silly names and just as Mum suggested Kevin the ram lamb stretched and moved his head so it looked like he was smiling and approved. The name has stuck – the poor thing is now called Kevin. We couldn’t think of anything that fitted for the girl. All suggestions somehow didn’t feel right. Then Kath said that she’s cute how she snuffles all the time and we knew we had her name: Snuffles.

To try and preserve our own sanity and make sure we also look after ourselves and each other as well as the lambs, Kath took a break and went for a run. She was going to feed our rams and last year’s ewe lambs and see if the pregnant ewes were ready for food yet on her way. She rang me from the field. She’d been able to hear black faced ewe bleating from a long way away. I drove on leaving both lambs tucked up in the lamb box and we milked the ewe. We got about 400ml before it obviously started being painful for her. Then we let her out. We should have engaged our brains at this point but this is what tiredness can do. Black face was a bit of a baby thief last year. We should have taken her straight on to the field where the non pregnant ewes are.

Black faced ewe trotted over to the rest of the flock and immediately started bothering the other ewes getting up close and personal with them so they kept running away from her and she kept following. Then it suddenly looked like she’d settled but only for a second because she did a 180 degree turn and trotted straight back to the shed where Number 6 had her triplets. We took the chance, ran after her, slammed the door shut (with Number 6 outside and her lambs inside so far from ideal) and grabbed black faced ewe. Then we walked her on to the other field where she settled down a bit. This way she has company and can work through whatever hormones and emotions without causing stress to the other ewes.

We got home and the lambs weren’t in the lamb box anymore. They were keen to drink the IMG_3702 (640x480)milk we got from their mum and between them finished it in a few goes. They seem to be getting stronger. Both can now stand up on their own and both nudge with quite some force when they want feeding. We keep popping tea towels under them when they pee but there are inevitable puddles on the carpet which we keep mopping up – we’ll have it cleaned after lambing! There’s also been poo – preceded by quite a bleat so at least there’s warning for that to get the paper towel ready! While the bought milk clearly doesn’t taste as good as the real thing both lambs are taking the bottle – in what seems tiny tiny bits but both are consistently drinking now and both are staying warm. They seem more content but they are still weak. We are hopeful without being hugely confident. We know better than to be confident – they are sheep, you just never know! As you can see, Einstein the cat is very skeptical. The other two cats are dismayed.

So for the next little while these little ones will live in the shower room. It’s easy to clean and it’s easy to keep warm without overheating the rest of the house (we’ve turned all radiators off or down and moved the thermostat into there). It’s lined with newspaper and padded with straw. I am building up to moving them from in front of the fire and having them with me. I actually thing they’ll sleep but somehow I like having them right here with me.  I’ll do my midnight check as usual and then feed them and then Kath will feed when she gets up to do the early morning feed. It’s worked in the past, let’s just hope that the routine is acceptable to Kevin and Snuffles.

Update on the others: We are keeping a close eye on one of the shearlings  who was lying on her own for much of today but not hugely far away from the flock – she possibly just couldn’t be bothered to move. Our Number 12, our lovely older ewe was just beginning to bag up maybe, no sign of anything with the others. The triplets are thriving. We’re all amazed at how relaxed Number 6 is and how far she lets them wander but also how well she is doing. She’s taken them out to the flock for some of the time but keeps taking them back to the shed. She’s coming to feed which is great and the lambs certainly have lots of energy. There is already a little video clip on our Facebook page and I’ll see about adding some more but for now enjoy this:





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Once bottle fed, always bottle fed

Just a really quick post because this made us laugh. Last night we took a bottle just in case the twins needed topping up with milk. As we came out of the shed, Kath showed the bottle to Edith, our now 2 year old bottle fed sheep. Edith got so obviously excited when she saw the bottle and immediately tried to latch on. I wasn’t quick enough to capture the initial excitement but managed to capture some of it at least!

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Fortnightly Sheep: Edith

Little Edith is our first bottle fed lamb. She is one of triplets  born in January 2014 and her mum is the 2 horn ewe number 10. Here she is as a lamb learning to work her legs

Edith has always been a bit special. She had really droopy ears like lambs sometimes do but hers never picked up (they’re still a bit floppy now) and she always seemed to have a slightly odd shaped head and bloated belly. In fact we were so concerned about how bloated she was that we took her to the vet and tried home remedies like olive oil and ground ginger. She just didn’t seem right and kept scouring for ages. We had her in the house for a few days, then back on the field and then brought her back to the house when she seemed poorly again.

She has come round well but there is still something a little odd about her and we decided that we wouldn’t risk lambing her in case she does have problems. We were wondering what to do with her as we couldn’t bring ourselves to sell her for meat and then we decided to keep two of the lambs for breeding in the future and therefore decided that Edith could just stay with them and that if we did that every year, she’d always be able to stay with the lambs we were going to keep. So that’s the plan.

Edith is tame as you would expect from a bottle fed lamb. She often comes and stands by us, sometimes leaning against out legs, sometimes just being with us. When we walk the field she comes with us and when we feed the sheep she’ll still come and check that we haven’t saved her any food in the bucket. She used to get pushed off so we fed her on her own out of the bucket for a bit. She’s also got a really distinctive bleat which always sounds a bit impatient and cross. I reckon I could pick her out of any flock without seeing her. She’s the only of our bottle fed lambs left with us now but she seems to have integrated herself into the flock – at least while we’re not there to distract her.



Rest in Peace little Lilly

Lambing has been a rollercoaster this year, well I guess it always is. One particular rollercoaster was little Lilly. She was born to one of our first time mums (Ewe 2) and we saw her being born. Her twin had been born about an hour or so before her and we happened to be there when she popped out. The ewe took one look at her and took her lamb away. Little Lilly was still completely in her fluid sack and Kath tore it open and rubbed her with hay, cleared her nose and throat and swung her in an arc to get any fluid out of her lungs.


We rushed home, we made up the colostrum replacer and created a make-shift hotbox with hot water bottles and towls. Lilly’s lungs were rattling and she was wheezy. We weren’t hopefull. She did drink a bit and then slept in her box. The rattle in her lungs seemed to stop after our kitten jumped on her and curled up in the box with her. We stayed up with her but her breathing seemed to get worse the next morning. We phoned the vet who said there wasn’t anything medical we could do and that fluid in her lungs was the most likely cause. She suggested persevering a bit and seeing if things improved if the lamb got some strength and started moving around. It didn’t work. So later on that afternoon we phoned the vet and made an appointment that we hoped we’d never ha258ve to make. Because it was Easter Monday, the vet was operating an emergency out of hours service only.

We got there, the vet looked at her and confirmed that her lungs weren’t functioning properly and she was putting so much effort into just breathing that it was only a matter of time before everything else packed in. We watched as the vet nurse held Lilly and stroked her while the vet injected her and she went off to sleep and then died. She looked the most peaceful she had in her short life.

As I stood there watching the vet put the little lamb I had just spent 24 hours cuddling on the sofa to sleep I asked myself why I was putting myself through all of this. Why? All sorts of why. Why have the sheep in the first place? They die, they find the most ridiculous ways to die, they’re sheep. Why bother with lambs? We could just have a little flock, we could buy new blood in, we don’t have to lamb. Why not take the cue from nature, the ewe abandon the lamb for a reason, why not just leave the lamb to never really come to life? Well, why have the sheep is a bigger question which I’m sure I’ll return to. In short though, because they ke154ep me sane. Why lamb them? Well, that’s perhaps more complex but keeping sheep is different to say keeping cats or dogs. They’re not pets. Lambing, selling the lambs, selling the ewes when they get older, it’s all part of it. It just wouldn’t feel right to not go through the whole cycle. As for why we didn’t just leave the lamb like it’s mother did? We can’t. Most of the time the ewe’s instinct is probably right, but not necessarily always so we had to try. We had 3 successful bottle feeds last year who were all abandoned by their mothers. It is always worth a go and for those 24 hours little Lilly was loved by us and by the kitten