Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lamb Count - 32

I rushed home from work and found the old girl's little twins standing and nursing.  Perhaps she has some milk after all.  I peeked in the pen of the big black ewe with the newest twins - and there was another lamb in the pen!  She had a triplet in there?  Really?  The oxytocin apparently had helped her birth that third lamb.  I really am very lucky I have not had to pull lambs this season.  The only lamb I pulled would have come out on it's own, but that's Monday morning quarterbacking.  As I was pondering my new set of triplets, I saw another monster lamb, cord hanging, standing by the maternity pen gate.  A year was crying pitifully nearby.  She seemed to be more interested in calling me than paying attention to her new baby.  The lamb toddled around, going to random sheep for comfort.  I quickly got the dogs out to pee/poo then prepared the afternoon bottles.  I brought the bottles out to the barn with me along with the newborn kit.  I fed the only true bottle babies I have, the darling black twins - one of whom I pulled, interrupting the birthing process, big mistake - and watched the newborn across the barn as they drained the milk.  I got in the old girl's pen and made her little ram twins drink some milk.  While I was with them I saw Finn, retired sheep guard dog, come in through the back of the barn, snooping around for afterbirth.  The dogs follow the scent and eat it, even if it's days old.  LGD's, livestock guardian dogs, are hard-wired to eat afterbirth or dead lambs to keep predators from being drawn near.  The new lamb toddled over to Finn, after all he is big and fluffy white, and sidled up to him.  Finn sniffed him all over then backtracked away.  I really had to finish the bottles and get to that lamb.  I scooped him up, all 15 or so pounds of him, and gave him two shots of NutriDrench newborn elixir.  I clipped and dipped the cord.  You would think mom might be curious about what I was doing to her lamb, but nothing doing.  She was too busy being flighty, and baaaing into the air.  I tried showing the lamb to her, I tried catching her with my crook.  Nothing doing.  The phone rang and it was spouse telling me he would be leaving soon.  Thank goodness as I really needed help catching this irresponsible ewe.  Finally he arrived and together we got the ewe and monster ram lamb penned together.  We had to let two ewes and their four lambs out to make room in the maternity ward.  Matt held this big, fat ewe while I nursed her out.  The yellow colostrum came out in a healthy stream and hit the bottom of the cup I was holding under her with one hand while pulling on the teat with the other.  Music to my ears.  How I wished I could give this ability to produce milk to all my ewes.   I gave the colostrum to the big ram lamb in 3 cc syringe barrel fulls.  When it was all gone I went back to work, toting water to all the pens and communal watering buckets, forking hay and mixing pig slop.  The flighty ewe kicked at him a few times but by later in the evening she was perfectly at home with him pulling on her teats.  Motherhood prevails.  I heated some Chinese food from the night before and we had dinner.  More chores, more bottles and I had to go horizontal.  Mia's meds were keeping me alive but the cold virus had an icy grip on my chest.  I barely remember Matt standing over me pouring some cold medicine in my mouth.  I made me sleep through until six am, when I woke with a start.  Had I let somebody die during the night?  The morning light revealed everyone still alive.  No new lambs.  Sigh of relief....then off to work to get some rest.  The infected finger is about to explode making barn chores painful.  The cold and cough is still dragging me down.  I am the shepherd of 32 lambs, their mothers and brothers
.  The joy is sustaining me.  This is my life.

1 comment:

skeindalous said...

I am in awe if the work you perform daily with your sheep. A good counterweight to the rosy, fuzzy,'Gee I would love to live the idyllic life on a farm' nonsense you sometimes hear. As one who knits almost exclusively with wool, and tries to find reputable companies as my source, I can only be even more grateful for the lovely lovely yarn in the sweater I am making!