Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Adventures in Lambing

The Farmer thinks we are up to about 90 lambs now. That’s a lot of babies being born. Just this morning there were seven more. There will probably be at least another this afternoon – I saw a mom in waiting looking like she was in the early stages of labor. We found this handsome set of twins this morning.

Two weeks ago, when all the madness really got going, the ewes were just popping the lambs out like crazy. Each morning, we try to identify new lambs, who had who, and to generally try to keep the chaos in order, if possible. It’s usually pretty easy to tell who is new because most of the mothers have the sense to go inside the barn and lamb in the nice soft frozen hay. Occassionally though, especially with new mothers, they aren’t even aware of what is going on and they’ll lamb outside. This happened last week and we arrived to two nearly frozen but still breathing newborn lambs.

When this happens, you go into emergency mode. First, you stick your finger in the lamb’s mouth and feel just how cold they are. Neither that particular morning were good. The Farmer put one in his giant truck with the heat blasting, while he fed the 200 plus sheep. I arrived after dropping Julia off at school and was soon put in charge of a cute little black lamb who was also cold and barely alive. We soon discovered that the other lamb was locked in the truck along with our only cellphone. The truck was on empty. I went in search of someone to unlock the truck snuggling the little black lamb in my jacket.

After finding someone charming to help out, I did a couple errands and returned to the farm. Noone was there. No truck, no little cold lamb, and no Farmer. In fear of the snowstorm that ultimately didn't happen, I went to get some new tires to replace those bordering on dangerous for all. I took the little black lamb with me. I brought her into the Tire Warehouse waiting room and wrapped her up in my wool coat and lay her on the floor, unnoticed by anyone in the crowded waiting room. I sat embroidering my latest project while patiently waiting for the tires and hoping the lamb would warm up. About 15 minutes later the lamb put out a baaaah and I was discovered. A baaaaaah from a cold lamb is a good sign.

It amazes me how adults of all kinds flock to a baby or a child. My little lamb was soon the subject of the conversation with a retired cardiologist who sat warming the lamb while he asked me questions and telling me story after story about his own encounters with sheep. After he left, a woman about my age inquired about the lamb. She said the last small thing she had held had died in her arms - her puppy. I promised her this wouldn't happen with this lamb. She snuggled with the lamb wrapped in a fleecy jacket that the owner of the tire store had lent me. This woman held the lamb for quite a while.

Then in walked the Farmer who had heard from the local bakery that I was waiting for some tires. He had gotten his truck back in working order and he relieved me of the lamb. Not that the lamb hadn't done some good in the folk's lives that we had met that day.

When I got home, I found both the cold lambs in a refrigerator box in the bathroom under a heat lamp- a sure sign of lambing season - lambs in the bathroom. The story continues tomorrow.


futuregirl said...

Such a warm and inspiring story. :)

Scribbles & Bits said...

I love reading all about this!

Helena said...

I love your blog. Ooooh, babies! I have always wanted a farm with sheep. It is a fantasy of mine..some day! I live on yours by reading daily. I do have a shetland sheepdog that will herd anything moving. What a nursery you have! Love your photos.

Natalie said...

Are there any issues with the ewes if you have to take the lambs away to warm them up like this? Just curious! :)

Heather said...

I didn't realize that lambing could be so perilous! Thanks for sharing this story.

Another Heather said...

The lambs' goodwill continues in blogland. I'm typing with a smile on my face and a new warmth in my heart. If 'Lambs in the Bathroom' isn't already the title of some novel, then it should be. Feel like branching out? I miss James Harriott. Thank you for the wonderful lambing update.

Anonymous said...

Those lambs are so cute- and lambs in the bathroom- well, we've been there too....Hopefully they'll recover properly.
I really enjoyed those winterpic's from yesterday, the colours are so great- some days in between the rain we get that clear blue sky and a very special light.
Best of luck!!
Marit in Norway

Anonymous said...

Wow this city girl has tears in her eyes. I love that you just kept on doing what needed to be done and took the lamb in the tire store and shared with some other lucky folks ... you made their day! Thanks for sharing!

Marcy said...

Lovely story, Kristen. I hope all the new little lambies stay warm through this cold cold weather we've been having.

Have the lambpedes started yet?