Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Eider Didn't Come for Lunch

Eider is my 11 year old ewe. She's always been my favorite, a real sweetie, a good mom and a good milk sheep with beautiful wool. Since she's been in poor condition this past year, I've kept her with the ewe lambs who are getting extra nutrition.

Usually she's standing on the step of the working chute,urging me to hurry as I put out the alfalfa hay for her and the other barn sheep. But this morning she was absent, though the lambs were front and center at the trough. I feared the worse, considering her age and condition, and went looking.

She was lying by a big round bale, and didn't respond when I called her name. My heart sank. But then she stretched out her neck...and I realized she was in labor! A week early!

An abortion (as miscarriages are called in sheep)? I had several last first ever. That would be a bad start for the season.

I saw the lamb was presenting just the head, no dainty crossed hooves preceeding it. Not good! I ran and cut my fingernails (was planning to do that soon anyway), grabbed lamb towels, and rushed back out. Fortuneately Eider is old and was easy to reach in, find each leg, and pull it forward. The the lamb slid out easily, with the second one on its heels (literally!). Twins! I hadn't even been sure Eider was pregnant! She diligently began licking them, then paused for another contraction. Awfully big contraction for the afterbirth...I looked, and sure enough there was a third lamb hitting the ground.

I called in to work, and spent the day working to get things organized for more lambing, and for caring for these. They're all with Eider in a "jug" (small pen) in the barn. Two of the lambs are weak and small, and in dangerof being rejected. But all are doing fairly well. We're battening down for a long haul of tubing/bottling/bucket feeding at least two of them, at least part time.

More tomorrow. Must sleep. Lambs will want fed again WAY too soon.

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