Dear old Peggy lambed yesterday, on one of the coldest and most brutal days of the year. I’ve been worried about Peggy for the last few weeks. She has lost condition since shearing, despite being fed grain daily. She’s old, and filling her massive udder took the last of her energy stores. She looked much better in the fall. It’s a lesson to me about why people cull ewes at age 8 or 9. You might not know that she’s done until she’s really done.
In any case, after a few false alarms, Peggy really went into labor. While I had feared all kinds of trouble, Peggy had her lambs like an old pro. She lay down and squeezed them out, knowing exactly what to do. Peggy is devoted to her lambs and pays full attention to all of their needs. Sadly for Peggy, her estimation of her capacity to handle her lambs and mine differed. Her black ewe seemed to be thriving, but her white ram was falling behind.
“Peggy – can I milk you and see if I can’t help your lamb along?”
” NO I’LL DO IT MYSELF”
So we argued, I milked her, fed the lamb, and the next thing I saw returning to the barn was that dang lamb finally finding her low-slung teats and nursing on his own. I could swear she glared at me a little.
But on to the cake:
My sheep are total grain addicts, and even opening the passenger door to my truck sends them baaing and scrambling. To feed just one shy sheep, I realized I’d need to offer a tasty, grainy treat that didn’t announce itself. Taking some steel-cut oats, eggs, veggie oil, molasses salt, cornmeal and a touch of baking powder, I baked a cake designed to deliver calories, nutrition and a wealth of sheep-approved flavor.
Two sniffs convinced Peggy that she needed to eat this cake. I put it on a flake of hay, and soon Peggy was digging deeply into her hay to clean up the crumbs. Snuffle snuffle snuffle and she was done.
A rough recipe for sheep cake:
- 3 cups of steel cut oats
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 tsp baking powder
Bake at 350F in a lightly greased 9×13 pan for 25-30 minutes.