Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lambs in the Snow

It figures the day the weather takes a turn for the worse the ewes have a spree lambing. 

The morning started on a sad note.  One of our Border Leicester ewes delivered twins, in the wet snow with a bitter wind howling across the plateau.  In the few hours between our pasture checks she delivered without any notice or sign she was near to delivery,  not due for 14 more days.  She had twins, one ewe lamb and one ram lamb.  The ram lamb died shortly after birth.  We found him huddled beneath her in the snow, cold and stiff. 

Later after we got her into a jug, we made an attempt to graft Fred onto her, but she was too smart and didn't buy it.  Thankfully her little ewe lamb survived and seems to be doing well so far. 

Pictures later, I am too tired to get my phone and download them.  

I could not put coats on the lambs because the moms were soaking wet, thus drenching the lamb when they would try to nurse.  When I was drying the lambs and attempting to rewarm them I also tried to dry off the ewes, who were soaked to the skin.  Two of the ewe lambs I had to put under the heater in the car again, which works like a charm.  Oral dextrose + Car Heater at 90 works like a charm. 

We also found that one of our Romney ewes delivered twins in the snow.  They were doing better than the other set.  When I was drying off the lambs I kept finding blood.  Thinking it came from the birth I did not think much of it.  I put the ewe lamb down and started drying off the ram lamb I noticed blood again.  Uhtoh...she was bleeding profusely from the tail.  I looked at it and noticed the end was gone and there were gnaw marks all the way up to the base.  Thinking I should maybe band it I called Monique and interrupted her at work in surgery.  She told me to put a pressure bandage on it to get the bleeding stopped, because if we banded it right now the lack of vaso-constriction might backfire.  Monique stopped by this evening to check on them and she banded the lambs tail after the bleeding stopped. 

Mom accidentally chewed her tail while eating the afterbirth.  Poor baby.  Thankfully it was cold, or she could have lost significantly more blood. 

Our day was just starting.  After doing our normal chores, feeding Fred, etc we saw another Romney was in labor.  By now there was 6 inches of snow on the ground, the wind was punishing, snow coming down so hard I could barely see.

Of all days, I did not wear long underwear.  Figures.  

The ewe chose to lay down under one of the most exposed trees.  I was not able to get her back up. I sat down with her and observed.  She was struggling.  After a quick exam I could tell there was no way she was going to be able to push this massive lamb out on her own, so I pulled it.  I felt like I was pulling a calf.  I ended up bracing my foot on her butt to get leverage in the slick snow and pulled with each contraction, slightly rotating the head in the correct direction.   With a POP the lamb came through the pelvis.  A massive single ram lamb. 

I got her up and over to a jug where I checked her for another lamb.  Just the one.  While she cleaned him I sat in the corner and tried to warm up a bit.  I was soaked to the skin.  I looked up while taking pictures and saw this. 

See the eye ball? That is one of the Border Leicester ewes watching.  The black thing above it is Jim peering through the gap in the boards. 

Jim is in Heaven.  He loves the lambs. 

I hate the freaking snow.  HATE IT! 

Dear Mother Nature,

Enough already.  Please make winter stop. 

Thank you,


gvmama said...

Awwwwww. My heart goes out for you and the ewes who must endure the winter weather. Keep up the good work. I'm learning lots by reading your blog!

Karen said...

Wow, what a day you had. Thankfully we just got some weird snow showers here, but nothing stuck.

The fact that you don't live on the same property as your sheep does make it much harder for you, but I think you are doing really well, all things considered.

We only have three lawnmower sheep now, but back when we had lambs, we were really lucky, and most of the ewes chose to go in the barn to lamb.

You might want to consider breeding the lambs slightly later next year, so that they don't start lambing until the beginning of April. The daylight is longer and the days are usually warmer, and the grass is that bit farther along.

Hoping that all goes well with the rest of the ewes!

Pat A said...

Oh, my someone else with an experience to make them hate snow. I am glad the majority of the lambs made it. Maybe next year one of those portable sheds sold at Lowes and a generator that can be plugged into with a wire through the wall to keep it safe for a lambing shed.

Ginny Le said...

I am so sorry, so sad :(

I sent the link of your website to my sister, she will show it to my niece. Although they cannot understand English (we are Vietnamese) but I am sure they will love to see your farm as much as I love it. Thanks for sharing

Ginny, her sister and Mushroom ;)