Lambing season has started. Par for the course, it started on one of the coldest nights of the year. That morning I went out to check the ewes, lulled into a week of anticipating new lambs only to find nothing each morning. This morning was different. I walked into the barn, looked around the corner and saw them. Ewe 001 had a set of twins. At first glance it looked like the first set of lambs for the year was going to be a disaster, both were sprawled out in the straw and neither was moving.
001 was doing all she could do, she was working at cleaning them off and had them under the heat lamp. The temperature that morning was somewhere in the single digits so the heat lamp was really just a source of light. I inspected them expecting to confirm my worst fear that both had died shortly after birth. The first one I looked at was indeed dead, what a way to start the season off. I quickly moved to the second and to my surprise I felt him breathe ever so slightly.
Quickly I scooped him up and put him inside my coat and made my way to the house. Inside the door I called for help and the entire family mobilized. Jennifer took the rag doll lamb from me and Tatum immediately started hot water in the sink. Isaac put his chore clothes on and went out with me to look for more lambs. Thankfully there were no more. Ewe 001 met us at the gate and was quite confused and concerned about her missing baby. Isaac and I got her bedded down, disposed of the dead twin and finished outside chores.
I cautiously looked around the corner when I got back to the house, expecting the worst. Much to my surprise I saw the lamb sitting up draped in a towel in front of the space heater. He looked somewhat alert and a whole lot more alive than when I had last seen him. However, based on several years of bad experiences I knew we were not out of the woods yet.
Jennifer and Tatum told us about the lamb’s revival. His temperature had been about 92 degrees to start out with or about ten degrees from where it should have been. That is pretty cold and awfully near fatal. A dunk in warm water, followed by a hair dryer on his belly, then more of the hot water bath and finally a comfy spot on a towel in front of the space heater. The lamb’s body temperature had risen to 99 degrees on its way to normal. Things were looking up.
We ate breakfast and formulated a plan to reunite the lamb with mama. During this time the lamb bleated and stood up, definitely a good sign. When the breakfast dishes were cleared Jennifer and I bundled up, wrapped the lamb up and made our way back out into the cold. As soon as we opened the lambing bard door the ewe was anxious to get her baby back.
This is where I must add a disclaimer. I am not nearly as good with baby lambs as Jennifer is, I simply do not have the patience she does. She reunited lamb and ewe and worked at getting the lamb to nurse. The lamb was still wobbly and groggy from its near death experience and would not latch on and nurse. The ewe was one of our older, calmer ewes and waited patiently.
We decided the need to get nourishment into the lamb was critical so Jennifer milked the ewe out while I help on to her head. We then used a stomach tube to quickly get the milk into the lamb’s belly and feeling pretty good about the whole situation retired to the house. The kids and I got ready for church and Jennifer staid back to watch over the revived lamb and check for other new arrivals.
Soon after church was over I got a text from Jennifer of a new set of twins born during church healthy and alive. She also commented that the lamb from earlier was doing well. When I got home I changed clothes and went out to observe the lambs. The second set of twins were alert and the first lamb was running around and wagging his tail. I am sure we will have low points during this lambing season, but it felt awfully good to start off with a win. Once in awhile, things do work out.