I knew Ash was due anytime: her udders where full and huge. I was trying to keep her in a lambing jug, but it became clear to me she was holding off on lambing until she could get somewhere “safe.” Why didn’t she feel safe in the jug?
Well, I’m still not set up that well so the pigs and sheep share the same space. This is normally fine, but for lambing it was just too scary for Ash to have a hungry, breast feeding sow walking by the jug. Rosie is very polite to the sheep (unless they try to steal her food), but she does open the door to the pen and welcome herself in. Just a little intimidating. . I finally let her out of the jug and she waddled away to the woods calling for the other sheep to come. Normally sheep like to be alone, but for some reason Ash wanted the other two to join her. I let her go figuring I could find them and rather her just get it over and done with.
So up she goes with her posse and i let them be alone for about 45 minutes. I finally decide to go find them carefully slipping by the pig and her brood. On my way up I realized: CRAP! there are 3 main paths they could take on this mountain side…..if were a sheep I’d go…..this way! I took the middle road and walked for a few minutes. I finally called out to the sheepie sheep and *viola* sheep heads pop out of the bushes.
It almost seemed Ash wanted me there. As soon as I joined the party she flopped down and started breathing heavy. Then we heard something snap in the woods….coyote? what? Ash looked concerned wondering if she needed to hide again.
*oink oink HUUCKHUCK* Yes, it was Rosie. She decided to follow to see what was up. …. luckily she just walked past not noticing the sheep. She turned around and went back down the hill after a few minutes and Ash went back into contractions.
She choose a flat hidden spot to lamb….but it was cold, damp and covered in rocks. Not a good place for a wet lamb. I decided since i knew where everyone was I would go down and get some lambing supplies (warm molasses water, towel, lambing emergency supplies) and by the time I was back Ash was licking a *tiny* little lamb.
But it was tiny. maybe 3 and a half pounds? It started to move but mom went back into contractions before it could get up and nurse. The ram, in the meantime, decided that this whole thing was really HOT and he kept trying to mount Ash nearly stepping on the lamb in the meantime. I finally intervened and put the cold baby in my jacket. The ground up there was so cold it had sucked away all her body heat and she was getting cold fast. My jacket wasn’t enough so I took her back down the hill (tripping over the rocks) and gave her to the neighbors to warm up while I went back up the hill to see what happened with the next lamb. This one was a normal size, but it too started off strong and the ground started sucking away its body heat. Plus, there was no way a newborn lamb could stumble down the hillside with all those rocks, so i would need to take everyone down. Once again the ram was harassing Ash and I grabbed the lamb and got Ash to start following me down the hill. Halfway down Ash realized she lost her other lamb and ran back to look for it. I rushed the cold baby down the hill to warm up with her sister, then grabbed a leash and went looking for Ash. I ran into her, she was screaming in terror about her lost babies, and I convinced her to some down the hill with me. She was sobbing and moaning the whole way as i put her back in the lambing jug. I went and grabbed her little ones who had warmed up by then and happy reunion, right?
Wrong. Ash loved them. She licked them. She cared for them…but wouldn’t let them nurse. First time momma jitters we thought, so the neighbors and I held Ash and hooked the babies up to her teats….but she just didn’t get it. So little one was not doing great so i gave her emergency lamb food just to give her some energy, but we finally had to milk some colostrum out of mom to get little lamb some. So I was resigned to hooking babies up to mom until she figured it out. I got up twice that evening to feed the lambs, and they both seemed like they were doing ok.
In the morning momma was still moaning and seemed to not want the lambs to nurse still, so I decided to milk her out. No wonder she didn’t want them to nurse! 1/2 gallon out of just one teat! I caught some of the milk, but poured most on the ground just to get her empty. That seemed to help her moaning….but by then little one wasn’t doing well again. I tried hooking her up to mom but she didn’t do anything. I stuck my finger in her mouth and it was cold, no suck reflex. She was hypothermic.
I took little lamb inside and started warming her up with a hair dryer, but decided to give her a warm bath because nothing warms the body up like water. Washed her, dried her, started feeding her a few drops of mom’s milk to give her some energy.
She seemed to teeter on the edge of life and death when I finally gave her a name: Blaze. Oddly enough once I named her and started talking to her by her name she started perking up. A little more food, a little more awake. She was so skinny she had nothing to keep the heat in. So I made her a jacket with a scrap of Pendelton wool to keep her warm. Cute little bugger started standing.
Then I noticed: her legs were jankey. poor girl had a hard time walking and standing. I saved a sickly little thing.
She was finally strong enough I could take her out of the warm bathroom, but not strong enough to spend the night outside in the barn. Since mom was having trouble feeding this one, but the other one was starting to get the hang of it i decided to keep Blaze in for the night. We sat by the fire that evening and I made her a little crib in a laundry basket with a heater nearby to sleep in.
That probably saved her life (along with the bath) but it spelled doom for her relationship with her mom. In the morning when I returned Blaze Ash would have nothing to do with her.
I tried for days to get her to accept Blaze as her lamb, but she wont. at one point she started attacking Blaze. Poor baby.
I weighed her a day or two after she was born and had grown. She weighed only 4.1 lbs by then. Her sister was a more normal size and weight and doing just fine. Blaze needed all the help she could get. I bottle fed her mothers milk for the first several days, kept her in the jacket for a couple.She was starting to attach herself to me, but I kept trying to keep her with her mom so she would know she was a sheep. Unfortunately, all the grown up sheep knocked her around a few times, but I was there to grab her each time.
All in all, Blaze has a good attitude. She’s been rejected by her mom, but still tries to hang out with her. Its easier since her sister likes her still and the like to sleep together. She’s attached to me, so when I leave her with the sheep she gets kind of depressed. Its hard not to break down when I hear those cries of loneliness
What? Everyone needs a place for an afternoon nap.
**happy birthday lambs! you made it one week!**