Friday, April 19, 2024

The tortoise and the hare

That would be Broadway and Pony Jacobson, my last ewe to lamb and the shearer who was here Wednesday evening. One has been a watched pot for weeks; the other showed up early, worked quickly and efficiently, and was gone again before I would have managed to shear half of a sheep.

Shearing went like clockwork. The seven candidates were shut in for the day so they could be held off food and water (for comfort's sake). Just before Pony arrived I removed coats; while he was setting up in the barn aisle I caught and haltered the three boys so I could lead/drag them to the shearing station in turn without delay, followed by the girls. While he was shearing I wrote names on bags, then swapped a freshly shorn sheep for a woolly one. After Pony left I caught all seven again to put coats back on, so by the end I was pooped, but well satisfied with how quickly and smoothly it all went. Pony even brought his own help, although they weren't needed here. Here are the few photos I managed to take.

Helper #1
Helper #2 (the apprentice)
the three Musketeers, checking out their old coats

Thursday morning I turned out the girls, but Broadway hung around the gate and promptly went back into the fold by herself when I opened the gate for her. My ewes only do that when they are ready to deliver, so I was hopeful even though she still hadn't dropped through the flanks. But if I thought she'd get on with it so I could go to work and then agility class and a stop at Costco, I was soon corrected. I stayed close to home, checking in on my 'watched pot' every hour or two. She was where she wanted to be, but beyond that, not much happened. Eventually she laid down and pushed occasionally but without conviction, distress, or progress. I fretted; Broadway was, after all, my C-section lamb. When Rick finally got home well after dark, he gloved up (I was out of gloves at home) and checked to see if her cervix was dilated. It was (whew, so not ring womb then), so after a bit of discussion, we decided to give her an injection of the type of steroid lambs produce to stimulate birth when they are ready to be delivered. I checked on her one more time before falling into bed around 11:30, praying for the safety of my pretty ewe and her unborn babes.

I awoke around 2:15 and decided to check on Broadway again. She was busily cleaning up a dark lamb on the ground, with little hooves presenting under her tail. Relieved, I watched the miraculous process of newly minted mother bonding with a lamb that transformed before my eyes from helpless to teat-seeking quadruped. Not wanting to leave until lamb #2 was safely delivered and similarly transformed, I checked things out. The projecting hooves were upside down, no nose visible. I ran my fingers up the legs, feeling for knees or hocks. I found hocks – the lamb was coming hind legs first; time to intervene! I pulled gently but steadily, meeting significant resistance before getting the butt clear; the rest of the lamb came easily then. Given the amount of meconium staining, I was glad I acted when I did, but was concerned that I had done some damage because of the lamb's unstable hind limb joints. But even with them bending every which way, lamb #2 determinedly found its way to food, too. Two Ag grey ewe lambs and a very careful and attentive Broadway; wonderful answers to my prayers! I decided they needed Bible names, and after a few more hours of sleep and a little internet research, I settled on Bernice (darker) and Bethany (with the cloudy coat).

Sunday would have been 145 days from when I separated the breeding groups, so Broadway almost evaded getting bred – almost.

That's it for shearing and lambing this year at . . .


A :-) said...

Oh Yay!!! I'm so glad everything went well. Bethany's fleece is gorgeous - can't wait to see how it changes as she grows :-) Congratulations on a successful lambing season :-)

FullyFleeced said...

yay for the beautiful lambs- so glad it all turned out so well!

Michelle said...

Believe it or not, A, Bernice and Bethany will grow up to look almost exactly the same – grey sheep with light grey/white body fleece and mostly black legs and faces.

Thanks, Denise; I'm very glad, too!

Jeanne said...

It's sucj fun to go through all of your pictures and text.
it would be fun to see your little ones up close. Right now, that isn't possible for me to do. They are all so cute!!