Lambing with your eyes closed
A lot of waiting...
followed by a rush and this season, included using every gadget I had to get lambs into this world and on their feet.
Some lambings were Normal Presentation,
Lots were not. I have learned that being there, doing the waiting, means things that need adjustments to position can be made before things get out of hand.
Remember the memory game when you were growing up? Close your eyes and visualize. I think that game, which I played at birthdays when I was 9 yrs old, prepared me for lambing. If I did not have a normal position, I played Memory, the lambing edition. The lambing game includes closing your eyes and visualizing what position you actually have. If there are legs out, with eyes closed , bend the legs gently to find out which way the knees bend. If the knee bends down you have a front leg, if the knee bends up, you have a back leg. If you have a back leg the rules of the lambing game have just changed.
If only one front leg is out, close your eyes , go through the exercise I just described and then, with really clean and really lubricated hand and arm, reach in and play the game of fish. Remember Fish? When you were growing up it involved a blanket hung up, you on one side with a fishing rod and unknown treasures on the other side. Your job was to try to snag a treasure without being able to see it. Lambing with one leg out is just like that. Closed eyes to visualize, reach in, feel around to find the other leg, snag it, gently get the leg up and out and usually fairly quickly after that you have a lamb treasure.
Sometimes the lambing game went on longer than it was fun for anyone. The warming box described in the last blog proved very helpful in those situations.A rather memorable night started at 4 pm and ended at 3 am. The players of that game included 1 ewe that had never had babies before, my niece now know as "the trooper", a warming box, some sugar tubed into weak babies.
followed by the mom's special new milk, colostrum, tubed into the still weak babies.
Ah well, all's well that ends well with 3 treasures and a healthy mom:
"The trooper" then went to her day job and arrived back at the barn just in time to use her newly honed sheep skills with a much more straight forward delivery.
Her comment on it all? "Could we ask this ewe to do workshops for new moms before next season?"....always the teacher.
And then there was the 2:30 am check that started a marathon day of continuous lambing until the following midnight. Many thanks to my Liverpool sister-in-law who boiled countless kettles of water and answered my question "is that lamb nursing?" at least a million times that day.
Another thing I learned is that getting a newborn lamb on the mom's udder and making sure it has a good full tummy of mommy's first really thick rich milk, called colostrum, often means the difference between life or death for the lamb over the first few days of a lamb's life. It also can mean whether a lamb has to be bottle fed.
Not that people seemed to mind the chore:
Are you wondering about the answer to the question in the last post about how many lambs the white dorset had?
28 lambs are now at the stage of going out with their mommies during the day and returning to the comforting feeling of the barn at night. Pretty soon they will head to the rich grass pasture of their summer home. But for now they spend the days playing followed by napping wherever they happen to get tired.