Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Eight is enough

Thanks for the title inspiration, Debbie!

After keeping me on watch with increasing concern for two days, Bernadette lambed last night. Around 8:00 I went down to the barn to give Bauble a bottle (more on that later), and saw a big bubble of fluid protruding from Bernadette. On closer inspection, I could see a lamb head and one front foot in that bubble, but Bernie did not seem to be pushing. So I broke the water bag and proceeded to pull out a flashy black ram lamb with one leg back. Bernie got busy licking him off; I spread some fresh straw, shut them into a protected corner, and proceeded with chores.

When Rick got home, I enlisted his help so I could check to see if there was another lamb; Bernadette didn't look settled. Sure enough, when I gloved up and reached in, I could feel another head and one leg – a back leg. Arghh; did she have TWO more in there??? Feeling around for front feet that went with the head, I was sure I felt a second head, and tried to push it back. Things were tight;  I finally found a front leg, but try as I might, it was just too tight to fish around for the other front foot, nor could I get a good grip behind the head. I struggled and Bernadette strained for what seemed like way too long; I was fighting panic and Rick was saying the lamb had to come out, one way or another. The thought of sacrificing the lamb was sickening; I prayed for help over and over to get it out alive. God answered "Yes" this time; when I finally managed with great effort to pull her out, the flashy moorit ewe lamb was still alive. Hallelujah and thank you! Reaching in again, I was a bit surprised to feel an empty womb; I was sure I felt a second head. Maybe it was the knee of the front leg I couldn't locate? Oh well; eight is plenty!

not a great photo, but the best I got of both lambs last night

By the time I got sister out, brother was ready to eat and latched on lustily. The ewe lamb was still recovering and it was getting late, so Rick tube-fed her some colostrum to get her through the night. Then I moved Bernadette and her twins into the corner pen under the heat lamp while Rick hustled Bette and her twins out to where Bernie gave birth. I was cold, wet, and smelly from my obstetric work, so I took a hot shower and then fell gratefully into bed.

This morning everyone is doing great, and I took the time to get better photos. Meet Bench (ram) and Bailiff (ewe)!

Cute little white tails!

Since Bette's black beauties were right 'next door,' I took a couple of photos of them, too. Bonnie, on the right in the second photo, is much bolder than Bitta.

Yesterday morning our farrier came to trim the horses' hooves. He and his wife have a flock of Texels and Border Leicesters, so I shared my concerns about Blaise's and Bree's milk supply. Their lambs are doing okay but I wasn't convinced they were thriving; Bauble often looks hunched and subdued to me. Troy agreed that I needed to supplement her. I mentioned that I had an as-yet unopened bag  of milk replacer; he suggested I return it and buy some from his wife, because they've had better success with the Premier 1 brand and she had a BIG bag. He also suggested feeding the mamas alfalfa hay to help with their milk supply. So I set aside my to-do list, wrote down all the other things I could accomplish in a run to town and beyond, and eventually returned home with different milk replacer, and a bale of alfalfa hay in my trunk!

As a testament to their hunger, poor babies, both Bauble and Bijou took readily and eagerly to a bottle. That's not usually the case with lambs who have been nursing. So now I am supplementing them at least three times a day, and Bauble is already looking brighter and more energetic. Some photos of the lambs in the nursery pen taken today:
three-lamb pile in the corner with Blaise looking on

Bridger in the 'alfalfa pan'

and tucked behind his mom Bridget

Our spring weather is still being erratic, running about 10 degrees below average whether it be sunny or snowing (we had vigorous flurries again Monday morning). We are running low on seasoned firewood but crave the cozy heat the wood-burner kicks out, especially after being outside. Nothing warms like sitting or standing (or laying) on the hearth in front of the fire!

screenshot from this morning

Last Sabbath started wet, but the sun unexpectedly came out in the afternoon so I turned ALL the ewes and lambs out on pasture for the first time. Bette was not comfortable about having her lambs in the great outdoors with the riff-raff other lambs and ewes, but I was able to get some pretty pictures of everyone before I let her take her girls back into the Sheep Sheraton.

VERY pregnant Bernadette in the middle

Bauble showing the hunched attitude that concerned me

Blackjack behind his dam Bree

Bridger and Bridget

Bette, too watchful and tense to graze

With lambing season over, it's time to announce the winner of the lambing guessing game! None of you got any correct answers (don't feel bad; I only got ONE!), but Marlane came closest. Her guess on who would lamb first (Bree) was the closest (Bree was the second to lamb), as was her guess on the date of the first lambing (March 26, one day off from Blaise's lambing date of March 25). For the record, there are eight lambs total, four boys and four girls, 87.5% (7 out of 8) of them black.

So Marlane, tell me your prize preference: a handknit headband or Fair Isle hat, a set of sheep photo notecards, or handspun yarn. We can discuss the particulars via email (mmcmillen AT macnet DOT com).

That's it for lambing season 2023 at . . .


Leigh said...

All's well that ends well! I've only had a couple of "MUST GET IT OUT NOW" deliveries and know they are extremely stressful. You did good, Michelle! Everybody is absolutely adorable.

Mama Pea said...

Darn good thing you are such a good lamb mama and birthing coach! (Like up to your elbows!) With all of the newbies and their mothers turned out to pasture, I'd never be able to keep them all straight. ;o) Congratulations on a great lambing session!

Michelle said...

Thanks, Leigh; I had heavenly help!

There are enough differences among all but Bette's twin girls, Mama Pea, that they are easily distinguishable. But the 'dark horse' will will all lamb races here this year; ha!

Tim B. Inman said...

Sweet! Thanks, TBI

marlane said...

Thank goodness all was well with the second lamb. I am surprised to be the winner of the lambing contest and I will email you !

A :-) said...

Wow! They are nearly all black. Is that usual? I'm so happy that this lambing season was so successful, particularly after last year. Congratulations, and I'm so glad that you were able to figure out what was not quite right with Bauble. Someone less experienced might not have been able to figure that out in time. Congratulations Marlane!!

Donna Schoonover said...

Great work Michelle!

Michelle said...

Hey Tim, clue me in: what's "TBI"?

I'll be looking for your email, marlane; congratulations!

Yes, seven of the eight lambs are black, and considering that four of the ewes only had a 25% chance of producing black (because of their genetics combined with the ram's), it IS surprising – and I'm delighted!

Thanks, Donna.

Jeanne said...

I'm thankful for all those lovely little lambies! So happy for you. It's exciting that nearly all are black. I look forward to seeing them play and bounce around. Hint! Hint!

I got a chuckle out of the names Bench and Bailiff! I'm happy to know that Bauble and Bijou are doing well.

Congratulations to Marlane!

Retired Knitter said...

I missed a few posts and just checked in to find all the baby lambs are finally here (and not without a little drama it appears.). But oh soooo darn cute. How do you ever separate from them once grown? Great pictures.