- Adventures of a Crazed Shepherdess and Her Long-Suffering Husband -
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Shepherding 201 (Part 1) or How I Became a Surrogate Mother One Day...
My name is Duncan. And this is my story. The Shepherdess will tell it for me.
Last week, Monday night at about 10pm, I heard a loud baaaa-ing outside in the barnyard. I shined the flashlight on Bunny to see that she was in labor. I was so excited that I would get to see my first lambing, from start to finish! I grabbed the camera, lambing bucket and several flashlights, put on a jacket and headed out to the barnyard. I positioned myself about 10 feet away, sat on my bucket seat and waited. Bunny grunted and made little "uunghhh" sounds as she pushed. I turned the flashlight on to get a better look at the progress every few minutes. After about 30 minutes a little black lamb came slipping out. She went right to the baby and started licking away the sack. It took about 10 minutes for the little guy to get up on his wobbly legs and start searching for mom's teat.
I thought Bunny may be carrying twins this year. Sure enough she started pushing again and a white ram lamb plopped onto the ground. Bunny seemed preoccupied with the first lamb nursing, so I cleaned the sac away from the twin lamb's nose and mouth so he wouldn't inhale amniotic fluid into his lungs. Then Bunny found the white twin lamb and started licking him off and making her nickering sounds. I left the new family, going to the barn to prepare a jug with fresh straw, hay, water and minerals.
Bunny followed her twins into the lambing jug. I had both of them in my hands, held together at her nose height so she could see them. She was very loud with her disapproval of my taking her lambs into the barn, but once there she settled in with the boys. I stripped her teats to make sure the milk was flowing, clipped the umbilical cords to about one inch, and dipped them in iodine. Next, I weighed the boys. The black twin weighed 6 lb. 10 oz., the white twin 5 lb. 8 oz. Both ram lambs nursed and the new family settled in for the night. It was about midnight when I got back into the house.
The next morning, all was peaceful with Bunny and babes. The black lamb has white on his face, neck, ears and white frosting on his sides. The white lamb is all white. When I went back out to check on the family, around noon, I was dismayed to find Bunny slamming her white lamb into the side of the jug. She wouldn't let him nurse or get near her or his twin. I took him out of the pen and put him in the next pen. I checked his teeth to see if they were sharp and needed filing. No, they were fine - and his mouth was warm. That was a good sign - he had been able to nurse and get some colostrum from his mother. It had been about 13 hours since he was born. I headed for the house to get my sheep book so I could see what was suggested when a ewe rejects her lamb. I went back to the barnyard to find Cheviot #7 in labor (see Sneak Peek post.) I checked on Bunny and the white lamb to see how things were going. The poor little guy was crying and crying for his mom. I tried bringing him close to her and she continued to butt him. I decided then that we had our first bottle baby. Shepherding 201 had begun. Meanwhile Cheviot #7 was in labor, Baab was rudely sticking his nose where it didn't belong, the little white lamb was crying, we had to set up a pen for him in the house, and I had to rest for work. Oh, and I forgot to mention that hubby hadn't slept yet from working the night before!
Hubby set up a dog kennel in the laundry room and went to bed. I put the white lamb, who we named Duncan, into the kennel and mixed up two ounces of powdered colostrum I had on hand. At first he didn't know what to do with a Pritchard nipple on a soda bottle, but once I squirted some of the warm liquid into his mouth, he figured it out!
It is now 10 days later and Duncan is doing great. He weighs 7 lb. 10 oz. and is receiving five feedings a day. We should be able to decrease that to four in a few more days. We still have him in the kennel, but we get him out with the rest of the flock in the barnyard for a good portion of the day. Next week, we plan on putting him in with the flock again and bringing his bottle to him.
Thanks for telling my story, mom! I'm sorry the Shepherdess didn't have time to tell you about Cheviot #7 and her ewe lamb. She'll tell you next time, okay? I need to be fed - and then take another nap!