Saturday, May 23, 2015

Still lambing and some haircuts

I'll be the first one to admit that I still feel very much like an amatuer when it comes to raising sheep. This is to preface my apologies to our dear ewe, Loki, who was chased around the pasture for a half hour while in labor by yours truly. Mothers: can you imagine having contractions with your baby's head crowning while running laps simultaneously? Loki sure knows what it's like...

Fortunately, I have a good reason for this ridiculous series of events and I'll explain...Shaun called out about 7:30 pm that we were having another lamb. I thought to myself, "that's great and, geeze, it's about time!" So Lars and I headed out there to watch our newest addition be pushed out into the world on a warm, spring evening.

The contractions weren't getting the baby out though, and as I neared to get a better look I could see the lamb's face was covered in dirt and there was no movement. Shaun said he had not checked on the sheep for hours and I started to think that perhaps mama ewe was struggling to birth a stillborn. As the contractions went on with no progress, I confirmed this was the case and approached Loki to help her get the little lamb out. My heart sunk and I quietly grieved the dead baby and the mother who would also grieve her little lamb (sheep can feel heart-broken too).

Loki is a pretty skittish ewe, however, and she wouldn't let us near her. We proceeded to walk/chase her around the pasture for quite some time. She would lay down to have a few more contractions and was back on her feet before we could near her. As we finally realized that we would have to make a proper catchment system and took the time to do so, Loki lay down once again and finally pushed her lamb out.

It lay there for, what seemed like 3 or 4 minutes, when the legs started to twitch. I was still uncertain as to whether the lamb would survive despite the small movements but after putting Lars to bed and checking on the pair an hour later, Loki's little ram lamb was up nursing and twitching his tail with all the vigor of a healthy newborn. What a relief! I do wish that I would have not gone into panic mode and just let the birth be. It's a challenging role, as caregiver to these sheep, to really know when to let them be, especially while delivering lambs. We'll just keep doing our best and keep this experience as a little nugget of wisdom for next lambing season, I guess…

As if that wasn't enough trauma for one week, shearing time (occurring a few days prior to the lamb incident) was imminent and the girls got their bi-annual haircuts. They were starting to look pretty miserable under all that wool during our lovely 80 degrees days we've been having.

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