- Patches: 1 mottled gray ewe lamb
- Cricket: 2 dark lambs (1 ram and 1 ewe)
- Elsbeth: 1 dark ram lamb
- Maddie: 2 dark ram lambs (only 1 survived)
- Nellie: 2 mottled gray ram lambs
- Hermione: 2 dark lambs (1 ram and 1 ewe)
I watched Nellie give birth last night. And I watched a lamb be born. The fact that those two things happened at the same time, and were actually the same event, is what I keep thinking about today.
Nellie was lying on her side when I went to check the sheep around 9:30 and had her head lifted with her top lip curled back. Every few moments she would make that face again and just push. I clenched my teeth and didn’t breathe when she had a contraction. Meg took many deep breaths for her, and encouraged her with gentle words.
I was alone in the barn when I saw the first hoof. I wasn’t even sure it was a hoof, but Meg pointed it out a moment later, and pointed out the lamb’s nose and head as it pushed against Nellie’s skin. The other front hoof was still inside her, so Meg got in the pen to help. I thought it would be more of a guided midwifery type event. Maybe some squeezing or palpating to nudge the other leg out. Nope. Nellie stood up and Meg grabbed the one leg that was out the back. Every time Nellie had a contraction, Meg braced her knees against the floor and gripped the one (not for long) disproportionately long (to my novice eyes) leg and just yanked. They were both breathing heavily between contractions. I knew Nellie was going to give birth to a lamb, but the body parts didn’t assemble into a recognizable creature until it was halfway out of her and Meg was clearing mucous and fluid from its mouth. The lamb still had the back half of its body inside its mother when it shook, flinging amniotic fluid as its long ears smacked its wet body.
The second half of the lamb came quicker than the first, and the second lamb just sort of slid out of her.
That’s the factual update about the birth, but there are words for the awe inspired fascinating part of things, too. At first, when I didn’t see the lamb as a lamb, I was just watching Nellie’s face and then glancing at her vulva. It was only once the lamb started moving independently that I realized that this was a big event for the lamb as well- it was born! Day zero! And soon, with nudging from Meg, it was bleating and walking and nursing and falling and breathing and searching and blinking. Nellie was tired.
I’m sure there are some blog post type connections I could be making. What did I learn from this? Is there a sappy conclusion beyond “Behold: Birth”? I’m not sure. But I don’t think that’s the important part.
So now what? All the anticipation behind us, what will we do with our free time? Here’s a sneak peak of what’s occupying the farm crew’s non-lambing hours these days. In the coming weeks we’ll be processing the pile of log-length wood below on the left (one of many!) and turning it into finished firewood, show on the right.