Mark Van Zomeren has always had a love for sheep. He’ll say they’re “necessary for pasture weed control”, but he simply enjoys tending to his flock.

Every spring, Mark’s ewes give birth to lambs. Even with their shepherd suffering from a broken knee and hip a couple weeks prior (see “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” post for full story), that didn’t stop lambing season 2021 from happening in full force.

Mark’s daughters, Avis and Nadine, took charge of caring for his sheep this year. 22 lambs were born, the most THF has ever had! Most of the ewes gave birth to singles or twins. However, one ewe in particular was especially huge. It was almost feared she’d have quadruplets! She held off giving birth longer than most, fortunately only having triplets.

Besides Mark’s injury, another curveball the 2021 lambing season threw at the Van Zomerens was the fact that a female fox had a den of 5 pups right in the middle of the sheep pasture. In years past, vixens desperate to feed their pups have tried to kill lambs.

2 of the 5 fox pups

In an effort to protect the lambs, once born, they were brought into the horse barn. When Avis and Nadine went to take the newly born triplets to the barn, a red head poked up beside a lamb! Fortunately, the fox was chased away and no harm seemed to be done.

After bringing the lambs to the barn, it became evident one of the lambs was very weak and couldn’t stand up. With much chasing involved, Nadine managed to milk the mother ewe like a cow and get some of the life-giving colostrum for the unwell lamb.

Renae and Nadine coaxed a small amount of milk into the lamb’s mouth, and were almost positive he took his last breaths. However, they put him on his tiny feet and he stayed up! This little guy was a fighter.

Even though the lamb turned a corner, he still couldn’t figure out how to nurse from his mother. Jess Kanis, being experienced with raising bottle goats, brought over supplies. Pella’s Tulip Time was also going on that day, so Jess came straight from the festival still in her Dutch costume. It seemed to be the icing on the cake for a crazy month at THF!

Jess saved the day in her Dutch (or superhero?) costume!

The next few days consisted of the entire THF barn family falling in love with the bottle lamb, immediately referred to as “Lamby.” Potential names were tossed around, but the little guy had already started to respond to “Lamby.” So, he was officially named “Lambert Q-Tip Van Zomeren,” with “Lamby” still being his nickname.

This lamb was spoiled, to say the least! He was provided with stuffed animal buddies, milk 6 times a day, and lots of snuggles. Lamby was also often seen following the Van Zomerens around the farm, much like a dog. He became one loved creature at THF!

Like most other farms, the majority of the animals at THF have a purpose. The barn’s best lesson horse, Abby, would often get nervous at shows and needed a “buddy” of some sort. The Kanises had provided one of their goats the past couple of years, but it was determined that Lamby would fit that role in the future.

Lamby’s first day on the job as a show sheep was at the 2021 Iowa Fall Classic. After some initial adjustments, Lamby started to enjoy his new role and all the attention he received. Not many can claim being the only sheep at a horse show!

This little sheep has been a blessing to THF, to say the least. We look forward to him continuing to brighten our farm and being the best horse show sheep around!