Wednesday, March 16, 2011

where to start?

It has been a pretty hectic 24 hours. I am waiting at the moment, so I have a bit of time before I have to head out to the barn again, so a blog post seems like as good a way to pass the time as any other.

Yesterday afternoon, while doing my usual ballet-around-town of drop off one kid here, pick up another kid there, I noticed some unusual behavior in the expectant ewe paddock.

Honey was in labor. I had been keeping a close eye on Holly all day, as she was due yesterday (Tuesday) while Honey was due today (Wednesday). They decided to switch things up though. We managed to get them all in the barn -- because Honey wasn't going alone -- gate the other curious ewes out of her way -- because Honey wanted a little space and privacy -- and call a 4-H member who had never seen a live birth.

She didn't have long to wait. Before we knew it, two ewes -- one white, and one black. Hurray!

Terzo was the photographer for the great event.

We got them settled into a jug, left them alone a bit to get acquainted, and headed in for a quick dinner. When we came back out, neither lamb had nursed yet. Unfortunately, our shearing date is delayed and they seemed to be getting lost in all that wool. I trimmed a bit and helped a bit, and before too long the white one got the hang of it. The black one... well, let's just say she hasn't figured it out just yet, at least not 100%. Bottle baby #1, hopefully a temporary situation.

Luckily, Honey agrees that they are pretty darn cute

I checked the rest of the ewes... all eating and/or chewing their cuds (good signs that labor is not around the corner) and went to bed. This morning, I was surprised to see a white lamb and a black lamb huddled together in a corner of the barn. How the heck did they get out of the jug? Then I realized it was a completely different set of lambs.

Yep. Holly.

Unfortunately, however, Holly was not as onboard with the plan. It took us a bit to confirm that she was, indeed, the mother, because she was paying them so little mind. Honey was actually the one answering their plaintive calls. We got them into a jug... and she decided they needed to die. Immediately, if not sooner.

We haltered her so she couldn't injure them, but she still refused to let them nurse, dancing away and kicking at them every time they tried. (For the record, her udder was fine at this point.)

{insert hugely annoyed sigh here}

Voila, bottle babies #2 and #3, probably for good.

Terzo again, who often forgets to hold the camera steady
for a long enough time; we managed to get some
colustrum out of her and into them, always a good start

So that was my day -- trying to get newborn lambs through their first 24 hours with little to no assistance from mom. I tried every trick I know, including wiping them down with the afterbirth, to get her interested, but she didn't bite. It became touch and go when she headbutted the little white ram lamb into her water bucket, and he became so chilled that it took me three hours and several heat sources (heat lamp, blow dryer, my body heat, my jacket, heating pad) to stabilize his temperature.

In the kitchen, wrapped in towels on the heating pad;
finally got him to stop shivering

Now I am waiting to go back out to the barn for the 11:30 pm feeding (not to be confused with the 2:30 am feeding). The lambs are currently in with Holly in a bigger pen, because she became upset and started to call to them when we removed her -- go figure. None of this makes any sense to any of us, but we're doing our best to stave off mastitis in her and starvation in them.

If only there were a better way! Wait, there is... but it seems Holly missed the memo.


  1. Oh my word. What an eventful few hours. Praying that Holly gets with the program.

  2. So glad to hear that Honey is on the ball and had 2 ewe lambs! That is excellent. Is Holly a first time mom? Poor you... Good luck!

  3. As NIna said,is Holly a first time mother?

    One more time of that and she's out of my barn.
    Hope that's not the case