Here’s Isla and Tiny. Tiny is suckling from her mum Isla entirely unprompted, unaided. Success!
Isla has been so incrediby gentle, patient and understanding. Wonderful. She’s patiently let J milk her. She’s shown an interest in what is in the milking bowl afterwards. She’s waited patiently at the back porch, lookin in through the glass door whilst J or I have fed her wee lamb with her own milk.
Certainly, Tiny was born, well, tiny. She was weak, too : her still-born twin brother had consumed more than his share of nourishment in the womb. But even once we’d filled her tummy with colostrum and milk from her mother, and appeared to be in good health and growing, Tiny didn’t seem to lack the instinct to suck, or to go find the place on her mum to suck milk from! She seemed, rather, to be intent on copying her mum’s grazing!
But we persisted : ensuring Tiny had sufficient in her tummy to keep her warm and in good health ; milking Isla well enough to keep milk flowing on both sides ; leaving long gaps during the middle of the day (and overnight) so that Tiny would feel hunger, and Isla be full enough with milk to feel the necessity of feeding her lamb. Before resorting to tube feeding (the bottle feeding scarcely worked – the milk was simply oozing into Tiny‘s mouth, and every now and then she’d have to swallow), J tried to encourage Tiny to suckle, guiding and even attaching lamb to mother! But Tiny just didn’t seem to get the hang of it at all.
Then, after lunch today, as we were washing up the dishes, this is what we saw from our kitchen window : Tiny nuzzling up to here mum in a promising sort of way, and then (as we crept into the back porch to watch and listen) a persistent sucking noise came from under Isla’s woolly body. After a wee pause, the sucking resumed, and kept up for several minutes. Wonderful to hear! Wonderful to see!
J wanted to be sure, so he checked out Isla’s teats: the side Tiny had been sucking was instantly delivering milk ; the other side needed to be ‘primed’. Tiny was definitely feeding from her Mum.
The two of them will spend the night together in our back garden (no garden produce there!) – it’ll be mild and dry so no need to put them back in the trailer tonight. And then, tomorrow morning, we’ll tag Tiny’s ears, and then return the two of them to their flock, on the croft in Eriskay.