About five months ago we introduced Goober Jr (or the sperm donor as seen in this post) to our seven ewes and he successfully did his job because on Thursday our first mama delivered the first of his babes! All I have to say is way to go Goobs!
D an I are new to lambing (obviously) and for the last few weeks we have eagerly been awaiting the first of many new additions to our little farm we have going here. We thought Big Mama was going into labor about two weeks ago when D’s parents were in town …but she wasn’t. Ms. White was and she produced not one but TWO beautiful baby girls, Snowflake and Spot. (Snowflake was ALL D pick out. He has such a sweet and sensitive side)
(because she has a spot on her head and neck)
If you are curious how the delivery went well, she popped them out like the champ she is. I have to admit, I have been so incredibly nervous about the deliveries even going as far as buying shoulder length rubber gloves in case I have to ‘go in’ and assist. Yep, that’s right, I could quite possibly have to become a labor and delivery nurse and I’ve been reading up on what to do. Although I’m not the best under pressure and stress and tend to panic. Anyway, so far no help from mid wife Amanda has really been needed other then to cut the umbilical cord, dip it in iodine and dock the tails. Yes, you read that right. Most sheep aren’t born with that short stubby tail, only certain breeds. When they are right around three days old (and definitely before seven) the Shepard (that’s D and I) has to apply a fairly tight rubber band about one inch down the lambs tail. This shuts off blood supply to the end of the tail and within a week it falls off. We also have to use the same method to castrate the males which has so far only been one…thank God.
In all honesty, if it wasn’t for sanitary reasons we wouldn’t dock the tails and if it wasn’t for the fact that D and I aren’t butchering (for obvious reasons) and we can’t have an un-castarated male running around (for other obvious reasons) D and I wouldn’t do so either. This aspect of farm life is pretty hard on the both of us but we had to remove the emotional aspect and think about what is actually best for the animals in the long run and what their primary purpose is for us. Since we are vegan we no longer plan to butcher but rather use the sheep in the vineyard to ‘mow’ the cover crop and fertilize the soil so to speak. And let’s be honest here, I plan on having a huge flock of sheep as my little pets
So back to the delivery. For the past week or so D and I have been doing nightly check ups on the girl which requires us to set an alarm and get up during the middle of the night to go check on the mamas. Since we heard that sheep tend to deliver in the middle of the night because it’s less risky as a prey animal, we just figured ours were like every one else.
Thursday morning I woke early and headed out to the barn around 6am. Usually the girls are still laying around on the hay but this particular morning they were no where to be seen but I thought nothing more of it as we have a pretty big pasture for them to roam. As I was walking back to I spotted the flock off in the distance grazing on the crest of a small hills in the the middle of the pasture and I headed inside.
About fifteen minutes later as I was doing some dishes in the sink I looked out into the distance and notice that I could only see six of the gals. This is somewhat unusual as sheep tend to always stay together as they are prey animals and it’s safer in a group. Unless they are about to deliver and then they usually go off by themselves to do so. I got a strange feeling in my gut and I yelled up to D that I could only see six of the girls out in the pasture. D put on his boots and headed out to the barn to see if the missing one had found her way back there. I on the other hand ran out to the pasture where the others were. As I approached and realized it was Ms. White who was missing, I noticed her off to the left about 30 feet away. I breathed a sign of relief but suddenly noticed she look a lot skinnier then the day before. That’s when she turned her backside to me and I realized what had happened. Without getting too graphic, it was obvious she had delivered her babe and right as I put two and two together, I saw a little head pop up and my heart dropped into my stomach.
D and I had been preparing for this moment for a long time but the reality of the situation was unlike anything I expected. I was filled with mixed emotions of excitement and fear and as I jumped over the electric fence careful not to scare Ms. White, I called out to D across the field in the barn to get up here now! This wasn’t the ideal situation for lambing. Ms. White had given birth out in the pasture and we needed to get her and the lamb back into the barn into a pen where mother and lamb are suppose to stay for several days to ensure they bond. The only way to do so is carry the lamb back and hope the mom follows. Easy, right?
As D approached the mama got freaked. She was attempting to clean her baby, the beginning of the bonding process, when here comes a predator to snatch up her baby and take it away. D picked up the baby and slowly, making sure Ms. White saw where her baby was going, lead her back down to the barn. This wasn’t as easy as I’m making it out to be of course. A couple times D had to put the lamb down so the Ms. White could run over to it and lick it and make sure it was safe.
Eventually Ms. White and baby were safe and sound in their pen and D left for a very important meeting and I was left with Joel, D’s cousin to watch the mama and baby to ensure that they do in fact bond and that the baby was eating. Sometime after nine-thirty I noticed that Ms. White was starting to act funny. She was pawing at the ground a lot, pointing her nose in the air and grinding her teeth and seemed rather uncomfortable. Remember something I read in one of my sheep books, I realized that Ms. White was having contractions. She was going into labor AGAIN!
Once when I was twenty-two I was invited to be in the room when a close friend of mine was giving birth. I thought hey, why not! This would be a pretty cool thing to witness. Right about the time the head started coming out I ran out of the room with tears in my eyes and called my mom sobbing into the phone that I was never having kids. Well, somehow right as the hooves were coming out of Ms. White I realized there was something in the house that I needed to go get and left Joel to make sure the delivery went okay. (I may have to rethink who will actually be wearing those shoulder length rubber gloves if need be…Mid-Wife Joel?)
Almost three hours after her first baby was born Ms. White gave birth to another little girl! TWINS Snowflake and Spot were brought into this world!
Now D and I knew for sure that it was game time and I cancelled my impending trip to Seattle because I knew that I couldn’t leave during such an incredible time as this. That night we set our alarm clock for two-thirty in the morning and when we went out to the barn, there were no visible signs that any of the other six were going into labor. When I woke again at about six, I threw on my muck boots and headed out there to check again. As I approached the opening of the barn I saw through the wire of the feeder, two little black legs jumping up and down. WHAT?!?! Before I even checked on the mom I ran back inside to get D. He jumped out of bed and we both ran back out to the barn. As I entered the main resting area for the sheep I noticed one of our Jacobs, Doris, lying there with not one baby but TWO! Holy Moly! Two sets of adorable twins! And even more impressive, they were already standing, running around and feeding, and completely cleaned off. She must have gone into labor right after we left in the middle of the night. Amazing.
And without further adue…
So, it’s been two days and no sign of the others going into labor. Other then the fact that I seriously can’t imagine how they could get any bigger. They are HUGE! So the countdown is on. Could we get more twins? Triplets? Will I have to assist or will I faint and D or Joel have to jump in and take over. The excitement is almost unbearable!
Who will go next?
To be continued…