Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our 2010 Lambs Have Arrived! -or- Boy, Am I Tired...

Last Wednesday, lambing began here at Sheep Thrills Farm. While not totally a surprise, from the size of all the ewes we had suspected they might "pop" well before last Wednesday. It became apparent the girls were having twins at the very least with all of them being very "wide loads" as they ambled around the pasture.
Lacey lambed first on Wednesday morning. She always seems to be the first ewe to lamb - which makes me wonder about her outward composed behavior. I think I know who our "Flock Floozy" is. ;-) Out first was a beautiful little spotted girl, then a handsome young lad made his appearance right on her heels. Beautiful twin lambs. The little girl is a spotted gray and her brother has some color (browns) to his legs.
Amanda, being know for the huge boys she normally has, kept wanting scratches and brisket rubs as her time approached. I would whisper in her ear, "No boys this time, Amanda. No two big boys...I want three little girls, please." Amanda must have been listening to me.
My friend, Melanie, being a nurse and interested in all things medical (and a godsend with all the help she gave), came to witness the births and assist me by handing me necessary items I needed to help the moms and clean up the babies. While we watched Amanda having more intense, but unproductive, contractions, Mel asked what that was hanging out Amanda's bum. It was a tail! I gloved up and went in - and found a lamb's rear-end where a head should be! I tried working my way down to find legs to correct the lamb's position, but there was no room at all in there. After trying to find the other back leg without success I decided to get a good purchase on the hipbones of the lamb and pull along wit Amanda's contractions. Out popped a beautiful brown and white spotted lamb. And it was a girl!
No sooner did the one lamb get out and breathing when another lamb was sliding out of Amanda right next to her sister -- another girl!! While Amanda was frantically trying to clean up the twins, I heard a groan and looked to see another lamb hanging out of Amanda's backside. I thought "My gosh! What's she got in there, a litter?" As a matter of fact, she had three girls in there! Yes, Amanda have me three beautiful little girls...just like I asked her. :) Good girl, Amanda!

[caption id="attachment_681" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Amanda's Triplets"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_682" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Lacey's Little Girl"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_683" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Lacey's Little Boy"][/caption]

After Amanda's triple-play I thought I was done for that day. Mel went home late in the afternoon leaving me word that if either of the two remaining ewes lambed to please call her. OK. I'll keep an eye on them in the monitor in the office.
I checked about 9 p.m. to find Loretta digging furiously trying to make a nest for herself. "Don't tell me she's going to have her lambs now!" I thought, promising myself to check on her later. So, I stayed up checking Loretta at 10, then watched TV for a bit, heading back to the monitor at a little after 11 p.m. But wait a minute...what's that with Loretta??? OMG! She's got two lambs and they're both white! Loretta is a iset (forsted looking) black Shetland ewe so having white lambs was astounding to me. (They are actually very, very light gray). Twins again and one of each, a ram and a ewe lamb.
Things settled down quite a bit but I did notice that our last ewe to lamb, Ailee, was starting to act as if she was going into labor. Oh, great! Geez-Louise! But Ailee never progressed along as she should have. The next day I had Rob, Sheep-Vet-Par-Excel-lance, come out to check poor Ailee. Yes, she was in labor. No, she isn't progressing. Let's try some calcium gluconate and oxytocin to speed things up a bit. Nothing. She went on all day in fits of activity as if she was going to lamb any minute, then nothing for hours.
Melanie had come back later Friday to see how Ailee was doing and if I needed any help. By now it was past midnight and into Saturday morning. I gloved up and :went in" finding that Ailee's cervix not dilated at all but a lamb's head behind the membranes just wanting out. I called Rob from the barn. After telling apprising him of the situation, he decided she should come in to the clinic. He'd meet us there. If we let it go longer we'd lose her and the lambs as well. She needed a c-section.
So, my DH, Ralph, got the truck ready and we hefted Ailee the Rotund into the back of the truck. At Rob's office, he too did an exam showing how tight the cervix was. He tried to open the cervix. Nothing. Before we knew it Ailee was shaved and prepped for surgery.
Ralph passed the gas as Rob had shown him...Rob opened Ailee's side...and then Rob dropped a huge lamb in the towel I had waiting in my arms. "I think this one's dead.", he said to me. I took the lamb, toweled it off and suctioned the fluids out of the mouth and nose. And it was alive! A beautiful spotted lamb! And it was a girl!!!
Rob called me back saying to bring a towel...that he'd found a second lamb. Soon I had another lamb to care for - and it was another ewe lamb as well. As he was closing her incision, Rob said he thought this should be it for Ailee - and that she never would have been able to deliver those huge lambs in any normal way. The next pregnancy could kill her.

I don't have pictures yet of Loretta's lambs or Ailee's two girls. As Ailee was out of it for most of the bonding time she really needed to have, we fed the lambs colostrum and dried them off. So far, she's bonded with the second ewe lamb, a lamb born brown but with a definite gray underneath that coat of brown. But she hasn't bonded well with the first.
As of this writing, Ailee continues to push the spotted lamb away from her and refuses to let her nurse. So, I step in. Ailee still sleeps with the lambs and does some other motherly actions, but it's clear - "I like this one, not that one!" I bottle feed the spotted lamb I have taken to calling "Sugar". The jury is out, though, on whether or not Ailee will take on her full duties. In any case, it's become clear that Ailee should be going to a new home as soon as she weans these girls. And isn't it the way that she's got some of the best fleece in the flock? But Rob and I agreed. No more lambs for Ailee, ever. She needs to be in a flock without any chance of becoming bred. She's had two pregnancies with problems both times. Sorry,'s a spinner's flock for you.

So...for the ending totals we have the following: 7 ewe lambs, 2 ram lambs! Not bad, Loki. Not bad at all. Ya done good, kid!

*Note: Today is the birthday of Miss Sinda, the Cat, who shares her life with my friend, Tina. She turned 20 today! Not bad, Sinda...not bad at all. :) Please stop by her home at Marietta Shetlands and wish her a Happy Birthday.


Leigh said...

I guess you are tired! What an adventure. So glad things worked out in the end for Ailee, I just hope she accepts that lamb. I'm sure you'll find a nice home for her. And congrats on all those little girls!

Michelle said...

FINALLY? I have been waiting anxiously for the full report with pictures. Guess I'll wait a bit longer to see the other half of the new additions!

Theresa said...

Whew, that was almost exhausting reading it..almost.
Nothing comes close to the exhaustion of waiting for lambing,calving or foaling. And lucky you with so many ewes! The ones pictured are adorable and can't wait to see the rest. Speaking of rest, hope you are catching up in that department.

Tammy said...

Wow Kathy...What a time! I can't believe that Loki settled ALL the girls within that short time frame, and him being just a youngun' and all. Very impressed! I'm so glad you got a buncha girls this time, you so deserve that, after your 'ram years'. Very sorry to hear of all the stress and complications for Ailee though. I wonder if she would have even had made it in another Shepherd's fold. Only your vigilance and having a wonderful vet on standby saved her, I think. I hope that Ailee recovers well, and I can sure understand the 'no more lambs' for her --- with two complicated lambings and a C-section, 'nough is 'nough! Hopefully she will accept her other lamb, at least to let her nurse. Whew....Go rest yourself, girl, and take a minute to catch your breath. (By the way, beautiful lambs! Can't wait to see the rest of them.)

lois said...

Can't wait to meet all those beauties in person!

Katie said...

Sounds like you had one busy lambing! To date, ours have had triplets, a single, and another ewe is ready to lamb anyday, I suspect twins. We had a total of three ewes we bred.

No need for assistance from me this year..........thus far!

Good Job!

Val said...

I so so look forward to meeting them all when we are over. and am so pleased to note so many ewe lambs

Mimi said...

Good going Kathy! What a lambing adventure. They are darling! I have never had triplets yet, good job to Loki too!

Robin said...

Wow, what a busy and eventful lambing season you have had.