Tuesday, February 08, 2011
I went out to water the sheep before getting dressed for work and found a ewe in labor. Okay, maybe if she drops her lambs I can get them situated in a jug and still get to work...but she was in no hurry. Mom is a gentle older ewe and giving birth is hard work. I agonized a while and finally called Robin, my faithful aide. Took forever for ewe to give birth and second mom-to-be decided she would move in and claim it, even before it was fully birthed. I tried to pull her away several times but no, she was going to lick off this baby and claim it for her own. With her fuzzy sheep logic, she thought this was the baby she had not yet given birth to herself. In my effort to separate them I spooked first mom who ran away from the wet bundle. Licking off the newborn is extremely important as it is the way mom and baby bond. First mom never licked at all, second mom was licking like crazy. What to do, what to do. I lassoed second mom with some baling twine and pulled her into a jug, away from the baby. Much screaming from second mom and the first mom's baby was looking to her as mom. Couldn't catch first mom who was thoroughly spooked and still laboring to give birth to a twin. Tried to steer flock back toward wet baby hoping first mom would see her and say, oh! there's my baby! No good, she ignored it, while second mom, still laboring with her own baby, kept yelling for first baby. Oh, crap. First mom gives a big push and drops the twin, but doesn't lick it at all. I'm beginning to doubt first mom's maternal instincts. I didn't spook her that much. Wet twin gets up and starts to run around the barn! First wet baby had crawled over to second mom and they are bonding through the fence with big wet tongue washing and "mother/lamb speak." Enough is enough. I caught wet twin who is running the length of the barn under the rabbit cages behind the stanchion, bring her back to mom, who doesn't want anything to do with her. I drop first twin in the jug with second mom who is gloriously happy to receive "her baby." I put second wet twin in an empty jug and go get my leg crook and a harness. Catch mom by the leg while lassoing her with harness - a first time success for this shepherd! Sure, vets won't come and husbands leave for work - but I don't care!! I can do it myself!! Put mom in jug with twin and tie harness to stanchion. Nurse her out - hurray! Lot's of colostrum from nice sound udder. I get poor runaway baby - a gorgeous ewe lamb - clipped, dipped and a belly full of milk. She wants to nurse but mom is still freaky. This will take time. I get both moms warm molasses water and a flake of Libby's fabulous alfafa. Second mom is laboring hard while making big fuss over first mom's baby that is not hers. She finally gives birth to a giant ewe lamb that must weigh over ten pounds. I slip away first mom's baby and give it back to her, thinking second mom will be busy with her own baby. Second mom's baby is very frisky and viable despite being covering with a brown goo and sputtering with some fluid. I hold her upside down to drain fluid and take off some of the brown goo with paper towels. Mom doesn't care as she is swathing baby with big tongue washings. Let them bond a while before putting on sweater. I nurse out second mom and get another big jar of colostrum. All three lambs have sweaters and full tummies. All this took FOUR HOURS!! First mom is still a bit reticent about her twin girls and acting like "where did they come from? oh, I'm SO upset about all this!!" Too bad - she's got milk and I need her udder! She is not kicking them or knocking them around but she's not crazy about them nursing from her. If I need to I will harness her to a stanchion again to let the girls nurse. They are spunky, wonderful, heavy twin ewes so I will forgive mom a little flakiness! This shepherd is BUSHED and very much needs to sit down with a cuppa tea. Going to school would have been much less work! Took lots of pictures but computer says NO MORE PICTURES so they will have to wait until I can get ahold of another machine. Ciao for now...
Posted by Maggie's Farm at Tuesday, February 08, 2011