Lambs

serendipity_twins

Serendipity’s twins (‘Sunny Jim’ and ‘Lola’)  –  SOLD

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‘Sunny Jim’  –  Ram Lamb

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Sunny Jim and I share the same color ‘hair’.

Snowdyn_twins

Snowdyn’s twin lambs: ‘Noah’ and ‘Dottie Angel’  –  SOLD

“First Sight” ~ Philip Larkin

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth’s immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.

like mother like daughter

Monday night I made a mistake, well, sort-of. I had two remaining pregnant Shetland ewes, mother and daughter, (from a total of five) still waiting to lamb. Serendipity (aka Sara) and her daughter, Mystique, a first-time mama.

Just so you know, my Shetland sheep basically live in the field/pasture year-round, with modest housing accommodations consisting of several shed-style shelters. As in prior years, I like to bring them into the barn/lambing jug under my watchful eye for safekeeping, privacy… and for any birthing assistance that may be required. Mama and lambs usually remain in closed quarters – that is, in the lambing jug – for several days before they resume total freedom back in the pasture.

Apparently, I brought the ‘wrong’ pregnant ewe into the barn/lambing jug Monday night, past. Early Tuesday morning (at 4 a.m. when I do Round #1 chores), I was greeted by two new lambs IN THE FIELD. Mystique, first-time mama, had already given birth to twin ram lambs. They were dried-off and getting around on their own… presumably already having suckled from mama! I immediately shuffled mama and lambs into a barn stall where they could enjoy a well-deserved rest! Thankfully, all ended well!!???

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Meanwhile, Sara, who was in the barn (from the night before), was fine at 4 a.m., displaying no impending birthing behavior! However, when I went out to fetch Coriander (my dairy goat) for 6 a.m. milking (Round #2 of chores), Sara had already given birth to twin lambs: one ewe and one ram lamb.

mother daughter

I guess mama didn’t want to be upstaged by her daughter!

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And so the saying goes, all’s well that ends well!! That concludes our lambing season!!! YAY!!

 

Friday night: pizza and video… and lambs!

Around our house, Friday nights have been a long-standing tradition PIZZA and VIDEO night. When both ‘The Hubs‘ and I worked in the automotive industry, after a l-o-o-o-o-o-ong work-week, we looked forward to a no brainer; no planning ‘what to cook’ for dinner – after a 60-mile [one-way] commute!

Initially, Friday nights involved making a video selection between us and our two young children… mostly Disney films. We ordered take-out pizza from a small mom & pop shop [sadly, which no longer exists] and a 2-liter (the ONLY time my kids were allowed to drink ‘pop’). Every now and again, we’d substitute ‘family games’ for a video. Since my father-in-law’s passing quite some time ago, Grandma usually joins us… currently, with or without my college-attending kids.

This past Friday night was no exception. However, after the movie ended around 8:45 p.m., I performed my usual barn-check. I had moved one of my pregnant ewes from the pasture/field where their only accommodation is a shed roof/small structure into ‘a jug’ [a small pen set-up for lambing] in the ‘goat barn’. She was acting ‘a bit odd’ during the day, isolating herself from the rest of the flock.

AS SOON AS I ENTERED THE BARN, I knew there was a new arrival!! I recognized the chortling/cooing sounds made by my ewe, Reece. As I anxiously peeked into the pen, a tiny black life-form lay on the straw, Reece busily working to clean her off. The lamb must have been born only minutes earlier. I grabbed a few towels from my birthing kit and helped with the initial clean-up, making sure the lambs nostrils were clear from amniotic fluid (and, secretly feeling for horn buds). Hooray, it’s a girl!!!

Fast forward about another hour. Reece was up and down laboring/pushing, on two occasions by my count, trying to lamb No. 2. All the while my daughter and ‘The Hubs’ telling me to BACK-OFF, let Nature do its thing!!???

This is where I clearly STRESS… go in, don’t go in… to help the ewe/doe!? Not to become over-anxious and remain calm. Learning/recognizing the signs/stages of ‘normal’ labor versus abnormal/atypical signs. Assisting an abnormal/obstructed labor (dystocia) is required sometimes and is often life-saving, both for mama and baby! Over the years, you become more knowledgeable and confident as midwife. Each and every birth is a new learning experience. I thank the sweet Lord for his grace and guidance through this process!!

Now, back to Reece. I decided I’d waited long enough. I put my gloves on and squirted on lots of lubricating jelly. Katie was at the ready, holding Reece firmly and securely. I proceeded very slowly, massaging my way into her vagina. I immediately detected both front legs in a normal presentation, position for the lamb to come head first, right-side up. I GENTLY and slowly pulled the legs forward and down, followed by the head… and the lamb was on the ground. ALIVE AND NORMAL. Phew! It’s a boy!!! Should I have waited a bit longer???

Reece (who was a very cooperative patient) seemed relieved and no worse for the intrusion! She immediately began cleaning-off No. 2 lamb. We had stripped Reece’s teats earlier and No. 1 lamb was nursing well. We prepared to dip both lambs’ naval with iodine and finally worked with No. 2 lamb to latch-on for a drink of colostrum before we ‘retired’. Katie made a bucket-full of warm water laced with molasses for Reece. I’d be back periodically to check on Reece to make sure she expelled the afterbirth.

As I dottled, I just happened to notice ANOTHER tiny little foot coming out Reece’s back-end! OMG!!! Another lamb!!! Triplets!!!!?? How could I be so stupid!!!! Oh shiitake mushrooms!!! They say if you pull one lamb, prepare to pull them all!?? Mind you, I’m in the barn alone now. Without loosing another moment, I put on another pair of gloves, fished-out the other front leg and No. 3 lamb was born. A GIRL!

WOW! ANOTHER SET OF TRIPLETS!!! NOW, ARE WE DONE!???

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 Reeces Pieces and her lambs; less than 24-hours old

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Reeces’ lambs receive instructions from Mama!

Describe normal…?

What is NORMAL anyway? Does ‘normal’ change with time? How do we define, categorize, and treat that which is NOT normal? Normal can be a highly personal concept—and almost everyone, from certain perspectives, can be seen as normal . . . or abnormal. Right?

I suppose I had a very NORMAL Easter Sunday… or, perhaps it was very ABNORMAL?!?? I worked all week preparing [cooking and baking] for a very traditional Polish Easter ‘feast’… as a back-up ‘plan’. Planning(?) an Easter family dinner w/my sister (who’s been staying w/my mom), who also had her son’s graduation to attend – and the uncertainty if she’d be back in town, well, you know.

Nevermind. My other sister (and husband) were in the midst of moving into their new home and would NOT be ‘home’ visiting. Toss into the equation a few pregnant ewes, bottle babies, chores (yes, even on Sunday) and milking twice a day doesn’t allow much time for off-site ‘visits’.

So how did my Easter Sunday go??? My kids, Matt and Katie, were home for the weekend (YAY)! When we got home from church on Easter Sunday morning, we were greeted by Bella’s triplet ram lambs!!!! I ‘skipped’ breakfast due to all the shepherding obligations (stripping teats, dipping navels, making sure babies latch-on and get a drink, provide mama with molasses water, take care of afterbirth, clean stall/replace bedding, etc.).

Hank, my brother, came over and we (Katie, Hank and I) made our Polish soup. My sister/mom never did come to dinner. My brother John had dinner at my mom’s house instead. Afterwards, Dennis, The Hubs, and Matt visited his mom [my mother-in-law] and Katie and her girlfriend Megan (who had dinner at our house) visited my mom et al [and brought them pierogis].

…and I stayed home, did chores and ate a ham sandwich!

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Bella and her triplets, less than 24-hours old. The large lamb (in front) weighed about 7-1/2 pounds while the two ‘smaller’ ram lambs weighed about 4-1/2 pounds each. Boys, boys, boys!

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Shetlands come in a variety of natural ‘colors’ and patterns!

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This little guy has two brown dots/eyedrops at each eye… otherwise, he’s all white!

So, I ask you, what is NORMAL?

First 2014 Spring lamb has arrived!

As of late, every morning – before chores – I check my prego Shetland ewes. I play a bit of a lambing game, not knowing for sure and for certain WHEN breeding occurred. [They make ram breeding harnesses that colors/marks the ewe’s back-side when the ram mounts her, but, I don’t use one.]

Normally, I set-up my breeding pens in the Fall and unless I’m lucky/actually observe the ram breeding the ewe,  I guesstimate lambing dates for Spring. The normal gestation period of a female sheep/ewe is approximately 147 days, ranging from 144 to 152 days. With a small flock, I know my sheep well. As the approximate lambing date approaches, I look for typical ‘signs‘ and behavior of ewes soon-to-go-into-labor. The ewe is then moved into individual jugs or small pens in the barn to lamb. BTW, I’ve also experienced lambing in the back forty… surprise!!

Yesterday morning [at 4 a.m.], I was greeted by our first 2014 Spring lamb, a single white ewe lamb [Dove X Ceylon] weighing in at 7-pounds. When I invaded her privacy, mama was doing a fine job drying her off! I suspect she lambed about an hour earlier since the afterbirth had already passed. I dipped the lamb’s umbilical in iodine and stripped the mama’s waxy plug from her teats, expressed a few squirts of colostrum-rich milk and pointed the newborn lamb in the right ‘direction’.  A slight distraction from my routine morning chores. I TOTALLY love an unassisted natural birth! WOOT!

Dove

 

Ramble N White Dove (Dam)

 

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Romyldale Ceylon (Sire)

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Dove and her ewe lamb – three days old.

Happy Easter!