whitelamb

Friday afternoon there was one more lambing event, this one was a wresting match! A small yearling ewe, #910, was bellowing in major upset, and walking around agitated, with a foot sticking out of her. Poor first-timers, sometimes they get a little panicky not understanding what’s happening to them.

I went down to try to help out, but she wouldn’t let me near her. Almost all of my sheep are not tame and I normally can’t catch an y of them without using a dog. But, often when they are lambing, they are preoccupied enough that I can get in there and assist without them minding. Not this time!

I ran back up to the house, washed up good, and got Maggie. She helped me group most of the sheep into a corner. Herding is much harder when there are new lambs on the ground. They get separated from their mothers and start calling, the mothers panic and refuse to move until they’ve found their babies, and it’s general chaos and noise. Maggie kept her cool though, I managed to snare the ewe and get a halter and lead on her. I put Maggie back outside the hotwire so the ewe wouldn’t have that pressure.

Then I tied the lead rope to myself to be sure she couldn’t escape me and gathered my bucket of supplies. I did my best to re-clean my hands and arms with some soap and water in a bucket, and slathered up with disinfectant lubricant. Whoo hoo, in we go! The lamb was positioned well, just hung up, and the ewe didn’t seem to be having big contractions or pushing much. So with some groping and pushing and pulling, I got it free. The mother was good-sized, so I suspected there was a twin, and it looked like another water bag was coming through. I felt around as best I could, but she was getting distressed, I couldn’t hold her still by myself, and I didn’t want to interrupt her bonding with the first lamb.

So I let her be for an  hour, and still, nothing, not even any afterbirth. She seemed like she felt poorly though, her head was really hanging. So, I washed up and went back in to check. Gosh, it’s always hard to decide whether to intervene, and risk further infection, or to just leave things be. But I figured my arm was already in there once, and I didn’t want to risk that there was a dead lamb in there.

blackieandlambIt was another struggle getting her caught and immobilized again, but Kirk showed up in the middle of it and held her down, which helped a lot. I checked and checked, no more lambs. But it did cause her to deliver her afterbirth, so that’s good. It was interesting that the act of my groping around in there and the delivery of the afterbirth made her think for a moment she had another lamb. She licked and licked the afterbirth and kept checking and talking, like she thought she should see a baby in there! Instinct is just amazing…

So, the mother and baby seem well now. The single baby was a big 9lb ewe, white with tan spots. I think she got hung up because she has kind of a thick, dome-shaped head. Most of the lambs have torpedo-shaped heads that are perfectly suited to delivery. This one not so much, and she comes from a line where I’ve seen pictures of quite a few egg-shaped heads. Kind of like a Bull Terrier. I don’t prefer the look, nor the delivery challenge of these eggheads, so I may not keep this one around, we’ll see!

So, four down, twelve to go. I have a few experienced ewes due next, and then a whole bunch of first-timers. Here’s hoping most will be uneventful and nothing to write about!

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