Aimee found my favorite ewe Nellie in labor before going to work around 10.15 am, Thursday, and called me on the cell phone to tell me. I was already at work. I came home as soon as I could and gave an "assist" on the first of two big lambs that Nellie birthed. The second popped out more naturally around noon.
Nellie is one of our better mothers and thankfully there was no sign of white muscle disease, so I was back to work in time for my one o'clock meeting. I tried to put mom and babies out in the sun later that afternoon, but that didn't work out, the babies being far too shaky in their legs still. They went out as soon as the morning feeding was done Friday.
Then ensued the beginning of a long-run ewe-war between Nellie and Reggie, the youngster that lost a ram-lamb to white muscle Monday.
Weird sheep stuff. It's as if Reggie is looking around for her lost lamb, and her eye fixes on Nellie's ram-lamb. Either she goes to him or he comes to her, but as soon as she sniffs him, she gets horribly angry, quite mad really, and pushes him away and rams him repeatedly, bowling him over or squashing him up against hard objects. Sometimes she picks on the sister too. If Reggie can trap this poor mite or his sister in a corner or against a tree, she'll kill one or both of them, it's that bad.
It doesn't help that little Uma, Reggie's survivor, wants to sniff at and play with her new cousins.
Nellie, a placid ewe who likes nothing more than to be petted and fed crusts of bread, has been slow to respond and only slowly has learned that she has to defend her babies. And when she did begin to respond and ram back, she still didn't give Reggie a good enough hiding to deter her. I had to separate them two or three times already.
But by bedtime the two combatants had staked out separate corners of the main pen and were in a stable stand-off, Reggie in one corner with her lamb under one heat lamp, and Nellie in the other. The lambs are stuffed in the corners and the ewes are outside in defensive posture, circling the wagons.
They say sheep know a hundred different ways to die, but I didn't think one of them was being rammed to death by your own auntie.
I'm glad none of my aunties were ever this mean!
With a plot like this, we could write soap opera for sheep.