Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Next?

When I got home from work, all was quiet in the front pen which holds many of the ewes and lambs. After putting down my things in the house, I changed clothes and went out just to see if one of the few remaining un-lambed ewes was in labor yet.

She was chewing her cud in the shed, so I strolled around and looked at lambs. They all stood up and ran to their moms and started nursing, as they generally do at this age. The process actually is much less straightforward than that--sheep are rather indirect in many of their behaviors.

But then there was Farrah, wandering around searching and baaahing. I wandered around looking at all the lambs, and didn't see hers anywhere.

I looked and looked. Eventually, I went to where she was baaaaahing, near the remains of the big round hay bale (please, please tell me it was not just this morning that we put them in on that bale!!!!). I realized the top had toppled over as the sheep had eaten out the base first...and sure enough there were two black hind legs sticking out on the side where Farrah was.

I pulled on the legs, as I pulled on this lamb when it was born a couple days ago. It was a huge lamb, a small yearling ewe, and one front leg was folded under with the knee snagged on her pelvic bone.

The hay bale had the little lamb very firmly pinned, but it was certainly still alive and kicking. Not for long, with that weight of hay on top...and the fine crumbles of alfalfa mingled in every breath through the little nose trapped beneath.

There was NO way I could lift the bale remains--surely several hundred pounds. Tearing it off with a hay fork would take too long--seconds might count here--endanger the lamb to stab wounds from the fork, and would waste some of the precious hay.

Fortunately I realized that even though the hay above the lamb was immovable, the hay it was laying on was disorganized, half-eaten waste hay. I started pulling it out by the handful, and within a few minutes I had the lamb loose.

It was sneezing and its nose running, but seemed to be ok. Hopefully it didn't get too much alfalfa in its lungs; if so, pneumonia could result.

This seems to be the year of miracle recues and recoveries, which is a good thing. But I'm still looking for that elusive totally boring year, with no adventures.

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