Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rosemary's Baby(ies)

Rosemary and her twins

Two days ahead of her marked due date, Rosemary decided to lamb. Evidently it just kinda 'happened' and she plopped them out on the pathway to the field. She had shown no visible signs of the impending event, wolfing down breakfast with gusto at 6:30 a.m. By around 10:30 a.m. my Mom heard weird noises going on up in the pasture and came to investigate, while I was at work. All was not well in lambtown. The bigger (and I use that term loosely) of the two was valiantly trying to find the milk bar, but was being defeated by Rosemary's very luscious locks of wool. The smaller of the two had not gotten up and lay in a shivery heap. Mom called and told me the situation. Fortunately I was able to come home from work having saved vacation time for such 'events'. Also in my favor was that I had just finished another installment of the Posados County mysteries and learned in great detail how to drive and handle corners at high speed. (just kidding...just kidding...)

Rosemary's Ewe Lamb

Once I got home, I rushed inside and changed clothes and grabbed my lambing bucket. I wrapped the babies in a towel and carried them into the paddock so I could shut the gate and keep the other sheep out of the picture. I ended up getting the halter and leading Rosemary down, because she was convinced her babies had disappeared into thin air instead of paying attention to me carrying them. The lambs were so very very tiny. Rosemary had shown a little favoritism to the the bigger lamb, so my priorities were to save the lambs but also keep either from being rejected. To that end, I did everything on the bigger lamb first---brisk rubdown, and nutridrench, to get the system fired up, then turned to the tiny one. He could not stand and just lay shivering. He did have a little spunk though and would bleat occasionally. Once I got the initial round of 'emergency' care done, I bedded a stall and got Rosemary and the lambs in there. I set Rosemary on her butt and trimmed her udder area. While I was doing that I put the smaller lamb to her teat, and miraculously he latched on and sucked a little. He still couldn't stand, but I was able to steady him against her (with my third hand, which all shepherds grow during lambing season). I tried the same with the bigger ewe lamb, but she had suddenly 'shut down' and wasn't receptive to even attempting to suck. I finished the ewe up, let her up and haltered her. I worked at trying to get the ewe lamb to nurse, but she was just not going to. Hmmm.... You can hold them up, open their mouths and put the teat in there, and tickle their tail bone, but you can't make them suck. So I sat back and decided on Plan B. Off to the house I went, found a little bottle for kittens, a small container and some animal crackers. Back to the ewe and lambs. I tied Rosemary up again, gave her some crackers and milked her out. I attempted to get the babies to suck the bottle, but no interest, so I ended up just putting some in a small syringe and squirting tiny bits in their mouths at a time. They responded to this, and the littlest lamb would nurse off his mom if I held him up.

Rosemary and her ram lamb.
(Yes she is ticked off at me, and she is also laying down, to put the shot in prespective)

To keep a long story from getting even longer, after several hours the lambs were up and sucking on their own and had full bellies. They were warm and dry. I needed to go back to work to finish up some things---that's 100 miles all told on the road for that work day!
Ewe Lamb

When I got home around 3 and half hours later, the lambs still seemed to be holding their own. I made sure each one was actually up and sucking every two hours until around midnight. By then it looked pretty promising.

But that isn't the end of the day.....around 9:00 Luna decided she was going to lamb be continued.

Tuckered out ram lamb...being born and fighting for survival is hard work

(I weighed the babies 24 hours later and they were 3 and 4 lbs respectively, but I'm convinced they gained a great deal during that time I'm guessing the little one was closer to 2.5 lbs... No idea why they were so incredibly small)

And yes they are solid moorits...yes they are...;-)

1 comment:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Well done, good shepherd -- and what a blessing your mom heard the noise!!! Sounds like they were a tad early; maybe she got bumped or something? Can't wait to hear what Luna had; hoping you get your spots.... :-)