Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Two lambs (so far)

Here's Quinn, a three-year old second time mother, whose time has come again. You can see the lambs feet and head sticking out. She's been off her feed all afternoon. Some amniotic sac started to reveal around midnight, when Aimee went out to check before coming to bed. She woke me. We both watched for half an hour, but then Aimee, who hadn't slept at all yet, went back to bed. 

As an energy boost for my vigil, I made myself tea in my "Rosie the Riveter" mug, a thank-you gift from some students long ago.

A very British beverage for a lambing (in a very American mug). But Quinn must have taken heart, albeit nothing to do with Rosie. A few minutes later, she hoofed the bedding a bit, made a nest in the hay, lay down, had six or seven good pushes, and popped out a big white lamb. I made sure it was breathing and went to get Aimee.


There was then a little drama as the wee thing tried to first stand up and find the teat. She managed the first one alright, but the second proved more difficult. Quinn wasn't helping since she felt her lamb still needed a good licking, so it was all head and no teat for lambie. A couple of times she crept close enough to get a hold on. It was wasted effort, because then her sister interrupted, and Quinny was preoccupied for a short while yet.

The first lamb was growing cold, while Quinn had her hands full with the second, so I hopped over the gate, lay Quinny down, and put the first lamb on the nipple manually. Quinn, of course, was having none of this and fought and bucked, but I was sitting on her, so she couldn't get away. Aimee handed me the lamb and we tried to get some colostrum from Quinn into her mouth. I think we succeeded in getting maybe one or two teaspoons. 

Enough, anyway, to go back to bed, sleep some more, and wait and see. We were back in bed before 2.00 pm, and I slept until 4.20. When I awoke and went back outside, both lambs were warm and standing firmly on their own small hooves. 

It always occurs to me that what we have just witnessed is as old as the hills, literally, a very mammalian experience. Even the human shepherding is quite old, perhaps ten thousand years or more. 

There are many celebrated (or otherwise) contenders for first the first human occupational specialty: soldier, priest, and prostitute generally top the list.

But I vote for shepherd.

It took a while but lambing season is begun. It will be fun to see these little buggers run around the place this spring. Soon we'll have apple blossoms and lambs together -- a very beautiful time on the farm. 

Makes the tough winter seem worthwhile.

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