Saturday, 20 March 2010

Live and learn

First timer ewes can be a major pain in the bum. They have good muscle tone and squirt out their lambs without noticing. They think they've had an almighty painful poo and just walk off.
Half an hour ago I went out to check the ewes and found one first-timer had just that second lambed. She was nervous but licking her newborn as all good mums should, but she went for the arse end, not the head and I had to clear a lot of mucus out of its mouth - a particularly slimy lamb, this. I let the mum lick and bit by bit I picked up the lamb and brought it closer to the barn and out of the cold, mum following agitatedly behind. Older ewes just trot obediently behind (unless they are box of frogs). With the pair safely bonded in the pen, I ushered all the other ewes into the barn for the night.
As I shut the door I hear the most earsplitting bellow. Lying on the floor, legs all outstretched in a weird approximation of ewe-giving-birth, was another first-timer, with a lamb head poking out of her back end. So, I need to kneel on her and help out the lamb, as it'll get stuck with a head only presentation. The ewe has other ideas. She leaps to her feet, mid-bellow and chases around the barn. She then throws herself back on the floor, squeezes out the lamb which shoots out like a cork from a bottle, the ewe gets back up and starts a stampede with the rest of the flock, leaving the lamb vulnerable to trampling. I dive in, pick up the lamb, clear its mouth and nose, check it's fine - and it is, bleating for England - and put it in a pen.
Now, can I tell which ewe has just produced her first offspring? Not without help. We pen them all, and I check under every tail of all the first-timers. The very last one I check has afterbirth emerging, so she is reunited with the lamb, and after a short panicky trample, gets sniffing and licking and bonding.
Me, I'm knackered. I only offered to do the 8pm check as a favour before going to bed to be ready for the 5am shift, and I get more excitement than is good for me or the flock. With all that stirring around I wouldn't be surprised if all the lambing pens are full by morning. Good night.

5 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Thank you for providing this honest personal insight into the business of lambing. Quite fascinating. Does it make you broody?

Mopsa said...

You ARE joking YP? Nothing like a maternity ward/lambing shed to put you off.

Winchester whisperer said...

There was a young midwife called Mopsa...

Winchester whisperer said...

There is a young midwife called Mopsa
Whose Devonshire green fields flock drops a
Lamb a minute in spring, just before she can sing,
"Ba ba black ram, get you to the hilltops, Sir!"

mountainear said...

My shepherding is of a vicarious nature but we've got hills full of the little blighters at present. A wonderful sight.