Sunday, March 16, 2008

Not the Ideal Weekend...

Saturday morning dawned with snow on the ground, not a lot, but enough to let you know it was a minimum of 32 degrees out. Some light snow continued to fall throughout most of the day. What I find funny about Nevada is the fact that it can be snowing with the sun shining in all its glory! It was a pretty nice day.

About 3:30, I drove the truck out to the sheep pen (I do this so I can sit in the truck and watch them without stiring everyone up), my last corrie ewe, a smallish yearling was in labor. I sat for a few minutes and watched, all the signs were there, she was lambing. I came back to the house and got my daughter. This is one of those ewes that you really cant help; my good friend Laura would call her a 'pinball sheep', no matter how long you have these sheep, they never figure out that you don't want to eat them. So we sat and watched. It soon became apparent that this ewe was not going to deliver without help. She would go into a contraction, throw her head back and make the most God-awful sound you would ever hear! She was hurting.
We finally managed to get her into a jug (halfway from the sheep pens she started having contractions again), she wouldn't lie down so we layed her down. While I held her, Jari was trying to help her deliver a very large lamb. We didn't think either one was going to make it, Jari was doing such an awesome job trying to pull that lamb, I was nothing but a spectator at that point. We ended up having to cut the skin around the opening to make room for the head, I pulled back on her tail and out popped a 17lb ram lamb! He is beautiful! We thought we had really accomplished something; well I guess we did, we have a moorit colored, tunis corrie cross, soon-to-be-wether that I will keep for his wool.
We lost the ewe.
Within two hours of delivery, the ewe expelled her uterus. We worked for almost 2 hours to put it back, I just couldnt do it. My husband, my son, Jari and I were exauhsted, the ewe was bleeding pretty badly... I think the worst part was knowing I had to give up. Knowing that a perfectly healthy ewe was dying, and there was absolutely nothing I could do for her.

These are the days I have nightmares about.

In the past twenty four hours, I have seriously contemplated giving it all up. I was so ill prepared to deal with something like this. I was on the phone with two experience shepherdess' who did a wonderful job at trying to talk me through it, but I didn't have half the things I should have had to be successful at what needed to be done.

Post-trama, 6:30AM:

I woke up to find my daughter had not slept in her room.
The last time she did this she was in a lot of trouble! But this time, it was because she was in the 'barn' assisting a ewe to lamb. I think the biggest thing she is going to learn in vet school is to be patient :)
We have been watching this yearling, first-timer ewe for over a week, her udders have been so ...engourged that I expected them to start dragging. I did not expect what happened.
Jari had helped her deliver the first lamb (we had a 'patience is a virtue' talk), and to my amazement, she was going to have another! However, Jari wasn't in there just to help her lamb, she was catching all the amniotic fluid she could get hold of and rubbing it on the orphand lamb from the day before. As the ewe had the first lamb and started to lick her off, she also started licking off the bummer. She let him nurse, he got a belly full and she had the second lamb.
I know what some of you experienced shepherds/ess' might be thinking at this point; the ewe can't support all three of them, and you are more than likely right. I worried about this all day today, and although the ewe does have plenty of milk, her lambs are half the size of the ram lamb (now dubbed 'Bambi'), and I can't see them getting a fair shake in that situation. I think the ewe knows this also, and although when you take him out of her jug, she cries for him to come back, she only lets him nurse occasionally. Which is OK, he got as much colostrum as he needed I think, and will start on replacer as soon as I can get some home from the feed store tomorrow.

So, lost one, gained three. And yeah, I remembered why I do this.

Pictures tomorrow.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I can only wish I was there to give you a hug. I think you need one. :) Good onya for dealing with all of this, and for a very helpful daughter as well.
A 17 lb. single is very unusual if I remember correctly. When I was barn manager my senior year in university, we had to help the herd of angus heifers deliver. Out of 32 of them, 32 had to have calf-beds (uterus) replaced. Turns out that the bull they used over the heifers was known for throwing lare headed calves, but as he was a gift to the university, they used him on the way-too-small heifers. That season taught me to use smaller males for crosses. I still have dreams about it and shudder at the thought of those nights now.
You did all you could do. Sometimes, we just have to let go. I was so glad to read the little bummer got some colstrum. With your good care, he's gonna do just fine. Hang in there!