Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Farm Editor
Saturday, 30 March 2013 07:22
LEMOYNE — Farm life can often take some twists and turns. It is more than a bit unusual as two little lambs became “All in the Family” for Ron and Linda Dunmyer.
|Ron Dunmyer helps Julia Barnett, 5, feed Archie, a 2-week-old lamb, at the Dunmyer residence in Lemoyne. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
On the morning of March 8, Ron Dunmyer was tending his flock of sheep and found one of his ewes, a 2-year-old, had given birth to twins. However, this ewe instead of caring for her lambs, was rejecting them.
“Luckily I was there,” Ron said.
Linda explained sometimes a ewe will literally throw their babies, stomp on them and eventually kill the young lambs.
The Dunmyers quickly removed the lambs from their mother and in short order made the decision to bring them into their home.
They are not penned up nor caged inside the home.
“Most of the time, they just roam the house,” she says. “They have flourished in the house and they would not have in the barn.”
The lambs are put into the shower at night. Linda says they sleep for 12 hours and seem to do very well in the shower, which is blocked shut at bedtime.
Naming the lambs Archie and Edith after the iconic characters from the 1970s television show “All in the Family,” the couple suddenly increased the occupancy of their home.
“It makes everybody who walks through the door go, ‘Oh.’ So we’ve been getting lots of ohs,” Linda said.
As anyone might expect, bringing livestock into one’s home is fraught with danger — for both the lambs and the home.
One of the most obvious challenges is handled with the use of baby diapers.
|Archie (left) and Edith (right), 2-week-old lamb twins, are seen in the home of Ron and Linda Dunmyer.
Linda said they started using size 3 for Edith and 4 for Archie. They quickly grew to needing 5 and 6 within two weeks. However, diapering a lamb is not as easy as diapering a human baby.
First, lambs have tails. To address that issue Linda cuts a hole in each diaper for the tail. Archie’s diapers also need an extra strip added as she says because “he squirts.”
Second, lambs are rarely still so diaper changing is a two-person job and the Dunmyers have done it enough to have the process down to a science. Each lamb is changed roughly every two hours.
Archie and Edith are not the first lambs to occupy their home. Three years ago the couple brought Mutt into their home for a short time. Ron regularly comes up with unusual names for their animals, Mutt is short for mutton.
Feeding is done every four hours using special lamb replacement milk. The lambs receive six ounces at each feeding. Ron says unlike human babies, the lambs begin taking on more solid food at four days of age. After two weeks they begin being weaned back off the formula.
The couple does have assistance with the lambs. First, they have a live-in surrogate mother in their bloodhound Willow.
“She is very motherly. Sometimes she lays right with them,” Linda said.
She added that with her “great nose” as a bloodhound, Willow is often the first to alert for the need of a diaper change.
In addition to the canine assistance, the baby lambs has made their place attractive to numerous visitors.
When Linda hosted her quilting group, “Nobody got any quilting done.”
The ladies assisted in feeding and their yarn and any shoestrings were fair game for the nibbling lambs.
|Ron Dunmyer (left) and his wife Linda change a diaper on Edith, a 2-week-old lamb, at their home in Lemoyne, as volunteers Julia Barnett (middle left) and Libby Barnett (middle right) avert their eyes.
Among the most frequent visitors are two young Bowling Green girls, Libby and Julia Barnett, ages 7 and 5, respectively. They both love visiting and feeding the lambs. The girls were on hand when the Sentinel-Tribune visited March 21.
“They are just sooo cute,” Julia said.
Libby added, “We can pretend we are their moms!”
Since that visit, the lambs have had their tails banded, and they will fall off in about three weeks. The lambs continue to grow and Linda says when they grow big enough where the diapers no longer fit, they will be returned to the barn with the other 16 sheep, including other new lambs.
That will likely be at about six week of age for the mixed breed ovine visitors. At that point they will join a set of triplets from another ewe. Ron says it is not unusual for a ewe to give birth to triplets, but this is the first time he has had all three survive. Edith will likely stay on the farm to replace her mother as one of the breeding ewes.
Ron says of the mother who rejected these lambs, “She’ll be gone. She will go to market.”
Archie will go to another farm as each farm can only have one buck.
“It’s really a lot of fun with them,” Linda summarized.