Wednesday, April 01, 2009

spring

They came out of the barn into the sunshine three abreast. Each lamb at mom's side. The side they nursed on. Mom was alert to any danger. She checked all the fences for signs of danger. The lambs scooting to keep up with mom's long strides. Around the pen in front of the barn with their jug, the lambs didn't seem surprised at the bright spring sunshine. They followed at mom's side around and around...for the first 15 minutes, mom didn't get a bite of grass. She led the lambs from one part of the great outdoors, to the other....then back inside the barn....only to come right back out. Those lambs are going to sleep soundly later, when mom settles down. Finally mom moved the lambs into the close end of the pasture. At every sound, her ears went up alertly, the threesome moved back and forth between the close barn and the fresh grass. The lambs will learn to explore more on another day. The oldest, Suzie Q, would leave mom for about 5 feet on her own, and then jump back to mom's side in excitement. Twinkie seemed lost in examination of a blade of grass...or perhaps a bug on the grass. Both were content to follow mom wherever she led.
Yesterday morning, another frosty morning, the girls played jump around the jug racing with each other to see who could get back to mom fastest. The sight made me laugh with pleasure, and tears ran down my cheeks.
I told you so....I told you so....
Of course, I didn't follow my own advise either. Saturday night was stormy and cold. Look! I told you Shetlands like to lamb in the worst weather. In the morning, I was cooking breakfast, and send my husband to check the barn. He yelled, I turned off the bacon and ran. "Two new lambs!"...My feeble mind went to the worst...."are they alive"? Yes, the second lamb was still wet from a recent birth. She was the flashy one. Smaller than her sister, who already knew where to find breakfast. The new ewe was shaking with the cold morning, so I ordered a kitchen towel, and lamented that I had not ordered lambing supplies yet.
I have a real micro management problem with lambs nursing. In recent years, I have found that lambs learn what to do, if I just leave. So I left, and came back. Then I left and came back. This went on for too many hours. Yes, I saw the youngest seem to nurse....her tail wagged. But, as the hours went on, she stood close to the corner in a crouch, and her sister slept. About 10 hours after their birth, their shepherd decided this situation was not getting better. I don't remember how many lambs we have birthed over the past years....somewhere around 460 or so. But those lambs were always mine. These lambs were for a friend. I called the vet....it's Sunday...even an hour away....I can't get medicine. The vet was at his girlfriends....don't bother your vet about something small like a lamb....only a cow could pull the vet from his weekend visit.
I called my friend Nancy, two hours away. She returned my call, and said she didn't have the supplies I needed either. "Call Suzie," she said. "You know her, you gave her some sheep last year." Nancy couldn't find Suzie's phone number right away. I want to last year's emails and tried to find Suzie's number. Finally Nancy called back...."She will be outside milking her goats ruight now....but call and leave a message." I did as I was told...Anxiously, I finally got to talk to Suzie. Suzie is a goat mom, but helps anyone she can with problems. Yes, she had the Bose, and Thiamin, I explained that I was unprepared for a problem, and unsure wheather the lamb was brain damaged, or needed selenium.
Bless Suzie. "How long does it take you to drive here?" "About two hours...I'm on my way" I said as I went to get the keys. My dear husband, just as stressed at my bummer lamb, offered to drive. After all, it was getting dark, and he doesn't trust my night driving. Before we walked out the door, the phone rang....It was Suzie calling back.
"Bring the lamb." "It will get the medication two hours earlier."
I grabbed the screaming lamb from mom, and jumped in the truck. The drive is long enough without a little lamb that you are worried about, especially one that cried periodically. Fortunately, we found the house right away. Suzie's husband checked the lamb for sucking, Suzie checked her pupils for signs of damage. Suzie's young daughter...a pro with livestock....held the lamb while we gave her Bose, Vitamin B and a squirt of E in her mouth. This lamb was early, her teeth hadn't errupted yet. This likely caused her to fall behind in the eating catagory. We checked the lamb's plumbing....she was offended. Then Suzie got out the goat colostrum and tubed my baby. I have tubed my baby kittens....but never a lamb. I watched, squirming more than the lamb. After walking around the pen in the middle of the kitchen floor....the lamb looked better already. Her eyes seemed brighter, and she wasn't hitting the sides of the pen. One more tubing, and the lamb seemed ready to travel home. The movement of the car sent Twinkie into a soft sleep for the more than two hours home. After all, she had a full tummy now too. Would mom accept her back? Would she now be ready to try nursing? I held the lamb in my arms and ran back to the jug in the barn. Mom heard her baby cry and cried back immediately. Twinkie ran to mom's side and put her head under the long wool.
We went back to the house and to bed, too much excitement for us old folks tonight. Dinner was forgotten on the stove. Oh well, the dogs like pork chops.
The moral of the story? Don't do as I do...Do as I say. Even with two lambs on the ground....I needed some supplies. Lambs love to come at odd hours. Thankfully, Suzie spent hours saving our little lamb. She was overjoyed, when I called the next day, to hear the lamb was all better....so was I.
Two on the ground...maybe two to go...wonder if we will live thru this spring. Maybe i'm too old for this excitement. Got to go watch the lambs again.
Peeps