Saturday, February 28, 2015

Way Back Twins

I thought I better get to the way back and check on things.  Good thing I did.  There they were - one of the lovely black ewes I brought back from Pennsylvania when I picked up Gippeto, my gigantic Wensleydale ram, at Laurie O'Neill's farm.   She did what sheep and goats naturally do - she went to a far away private space to have her lambs.  Trouble is, that is the coldest spot in the barn.  I saw that she had licked them off and placentas had passed.  Mom's back was covered with frost.   I ran for my kit and sweaters.  When I picked them up I discovered they had frozen ears!  No wonder, it was ridiculously cold this morning.  My thermometer said minus ten but I've heard it was minus 20 south of here.  Did I read it wrong?  Anyway, this lovely little ewe mother followed me all the way through the long barn, holding her babies at eye's height, walking backwards, to her own corner pen, a primo spot in the maternity ward.  I did my clip-dip-strip and got a cup full of thick colostrum. I gave half to each baby.  My friend Julia says it is the most important meal of their lives, and she's right.  All the antibodies mom can give them are concentrated in this magical elixir.  I don't wait for them to get it themselves.  I nurse it out of mom while I'm gently squeezing out the waxy plug at the end of the teat.  In nature, only the strongest lambs can suck out that plug, ensuring only the strongest of the species survives.  I want everybody to survive so I help them along.   I've been truly blessed so far with moms who can feed their babies.  My only problem so far is Margot, who is still shy of feeding her baby.  She just can't relax and let go.  Finnute, the O'Neill ewe, won't be a problem. I massaged the lambs' ears with warm molasses water, figuring mom might lick them to bring the circulation back.  I don't think there will be any damage.  Counting my blessings.  I don't even want to think what would have happened if it was a work day and I was not here.  I'm praying for milder temps next week.  This cold just has to let up sometime soon.

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