Easter Lambykins

It seems so odd to have lambs running about at Easter time, here in southern hemisphere autumn.  This past week of lambing has been delightfully uneventful--no more ewe deaths, though the mystery of the three I lost the previous week continues to gnaw at me a bit.  I have lost a few lambs over the last couple of weeks, for a total of 11 lambs lost so far.  I think I have about 60 or so on the ground, though it's nearly impossible to count them in the paddock--we'll have to wait for lamb marking (when we vaccinate and ear-tag) to get the final number.

A small "nursery" flock, with lambs perhaps 24-48 hours old.  If you look on the ground in front of the she-oak tree, you'll see a group of ravens.  With extra adult supervision, and well and truly on their feet, these babies are not at risk from the predator birds.

A small "nursery" flock, with lambs perhaps 24-48 hours old.  If you look on the ground in front of the she-oak tree, you'll see a group of ravens.  With extra adult supervision, and well and truly on their feet, these babies are not at risk from the predator birds.

Eleven lambs lost is higher than I'd hoped for, given the benign weather:  I'm pretty confident not one of them died of exposure to the elements.  However, it is fairly likely that many of them died of exposure to predator birds.  Because the only lambs in the district are on my property, I have every forest raven in the neighbourhood, along with lots of their far-flung friends and relations, hanging out with the two wedge tailed eagles that frequent my farm.  Conservatively, I'd guess I have a raven flock numbering a hundred.   So any unprotected twin whose mother is giving birth to the second one is at risk.

A wedge-tailed eagle taking off when I startled him.  He was feeding on a lamb carcass.

A wedge-tailed eagle taking off when I startled him.  He was feeding on a lamb carcass.

I've never witnessed an eagle killing a lamb, though many farmers tell me it happens all the time. And while I'm saddened by the loss, I've also had to accept that there are some things about farming I just can't fix.  The only way to prevent deaths by predators would be to lamb in an enclosed shed, a practice I honestly believe is not in the overall best interests of the sheep.  They need to be able to lamb in their natural environment, eating the foods to which they have become adapted, and caring for their babies without human intervention.  So, there are some things about farming I just can't fix.  Too bad acceptance is not my strong suit.

Eagles and ravens compete for food, and it's common to see a flock of ravens harrying wan eagle in the sky.

Eagles and ravens compete for food, and it's common to see a flock of ravens harrying wan eagle in the sky.

Sort of an eagle's eye view of the flock in long grass--taken from the top of the Grass Gully.  At the top of the image, a lamb stands out quite well--white against the dry grass.

Sort of an eagle's eye view of the flock in long grass--taken from the top of the Grass Gully.  At the top of the image, a lamb stands out quite well--white against the dry grass.

Safe and relaxed with mama and other sheep close by.

Safe and relaxed with mama and other sheep close by.