Lambing sucks! (sometimes)

So yesterday I noticed that Jenny, our katmoget ewe who tried to die 1.5 months ago, was acting oddly.  She as hanging out on the far fence line and not coming in for grain.  Her uterus seemed to have dropped, and her udder seemed fuller.  So I assumed she would lamb soon.  I hung out in the barn yard all day checking on her constantly.  She kept acting oddly but no other changes.  I chose not to go to the Mariners game, and my husband went with his father.  Then she started hanging out in other odd places, baaing to the other lambs (I had never heard her baa before), and standing still when I walked up to her (normal she would flee wildly).  I kept watching her every hour without other changes.  I last checked her at 11:00 and Tom checked her at midnight.  He asked what time I wanted the alarm set for, and I said 2 to 2.5 hours.  He set it for 2:30.  I got up then, and it was the hardest getting out of bed I have ever done in my life.  We have been up every 2-3 hours since March 24th and are exhausted.  But I drug myself out of bed and went to the barn.  Jenny was here with two black katmoget lambs one standing and licked and the other lifeless, covered with meconium and head covered in the sack but still quite warm.  I tried to revive it without any luck.  It was a beautiful ewe lamb.  I dried, clean and dipped the other lamb and moved them into a pen.  It is also a ewe lamb.  I stripped the mother’s teats and left them.  I assumed that the lamb would nurse well as vigorous as it was.  I thought I saw the placenta next to the dead lamb, and there was nothing hanging out of Jenny so I thought we were done.  Then I collected the dead lamb for burial for the next day and went back to bed.  I, of course, couldn’t sleep thinking about how if I had kept doing the hourly checks like I should have the lamb may have lived.  It may not have though- it was covered in meconium indicating stress, and I couldn’t get air into it’s lungs.  Lambs that don’t move after birth aren’t cleaned by their mothers so it may not have lived anyway.  But I at least could have tried, and I would not be experiencing this guilt.  Anyway, here’s a photo of the lamb that lived:

Tom did the 5:30 lamb check and bottle goat feed and then I got up at 7:30 and checked on everyone.  When I looked in Jenny’s pen, this is what I found:

There was a third lamb born at least 4 hours after the first two!  This is a first for me- I really thought she was done.  This lamb was up and walking but was still somewhat wet, chilled, and covered in meconium.  It was obvious is had not nursed and the first lamb’s stomach was not very full either.  I  dried, cleaned and dipped the third lamb and noted that it is a mioget katmoget ewe lamb!  I tried to get them both to nurse but no luck- Jenny was completely uncooperative and kicking them away.  So I went back to the house to get Tom’s help.  When we returned Jenny was trying to get them both to nurse, but neither was finding the teat.  So Tom held Jenny while I tried to get them on.  I could get them on the teat, but they would not suck despite all of my tricks.  So I got out the Udderly EZ milker and got about 2 cups of colostrum.  After a long struggle we got both lambs to finish this by bottle.  Both appeared a lot more lively and warm after this.  Now we have to hope they will find the source, and we will not have to repeat this performance.  The other barn animals were hollering that they were hungry through this whole process although it wasn’t feeding time yet- adding to the commotion.  So now we are cleaned and changed drinking our well-deserved coffee.  Tom says he has “animal burn-out”, and I was getting there too.  But now I have a gorgeous mioget katmoget lamb I have always wanted so things are looking better this morning for me.

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6 Responses to Lambing sucks! (sometimes)

  1. HisTek says:

    Wow Donna, what an experience. You and Tom are only human and did your best. You do need sleep sometimes. I am glad you ended up with at least 2 out of the 3 lambs and am happy you got the lamb you have always wanted. Jenny had quite a time of it with this birth didn’t she?

  2. Donna says:

    It was a long drawn out ordeal for all of us. Just glad it’s over, hopefully the two remaining lambs will do well. One more ewe to go!

  3. Michelle says:

    Oh, I do hope the remaining lambs (lambS – TWO! Yea!) do well. I think I’d rather find one dead than have to put a deformed one down, like I read a shepherd had to do on another blog. These ewes do have surprises for us sometimes. Brava’s second twin was born more than four hours after the first, and my vet husband was SURE she was done after one. I do think they were preemies, as neither had erupted teeth, but both have thrived. I pray yours do, too.

  4. Dave says:

    It is easy and fun when things are going good, but I think what really defines us is how we deal with the unexpected and bad things that sometime occur… I think that you and Tom are both top notch. Hang in there 🙂

  5. Laura says:

    I had a similar experience once. I had a Katahdin (don’t have hair sheep any more) ewe who had three ewe lambs. She had licked off and nursed one when I checked, but two were still in their sacks. I was so disappointed, but opened them any ways, then the surprise-1 was still alive! So she still had 2 lambs at least. Sheep (and other animals) never stop surprising us! I’m glad that yous still has 2 lambs.

  6. Donna says:

    Thanks so much for the encouraging words and sharing your experiences. It definitely helps that the two survivors are doing well and are gorgeous. I guess you just do the best you can.

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