07 April 2007

Terrible Timing

Temps here are still in the thirties, and wind chills are making it feel much colder than that. It was so cold, they cancelled last night's Sox game. Anyway, it was with some trepidation that I noted this morning that one of the sheep, Enigma, was keeping to herself at feeding time. Not as much as Maybelle was the other day, but enough so I was suspicious that she might be preparing to lamb. I made a mental note to check on the flock frequently today, but because Maybelle and her lambs were still in the one stall, I didn't want to move Enigma in there with them unless absolutely necessary.

Around 11:30, I went out to the pasture and counted only eight sheep. Sure enough, Enigma was the one missing. I checked the shelter, and she had afterbirth streaming from her rear end --- as frigid winds whipped in all around her.

I immediately called my wife, and we got a nice warm blanket. The lamb was soaking wet in amniotic fluid, as Enigma had only just begun to lick him dry. We wrapped him up snugly, much to Enigma's protests. I grabbed her horns, and together we all headed for the barn. It only took a minute or two, and we crashed Maybelle's lambing pad. She and her lambs didn't seem too upset by the unexpected company, but Enigma was clearly distressed by all the human intervention. Our children, in particular, wanted to crowd around and see the lamb --- and that seemed to be causing the most anxiety. I herded everyone out, and we left Enigma to take care of Lamb Chop One.

Once things had quieted down, I returned with a camera and managed to take some pictures. She still only had one lamb. I checked again on them a few minutes ago, and the lamb was up and moving around very nicely --- but there was still only one. It looks like Enigma will again be giving us only a single lamb. She's lambed four times now, and only had twins once. That's disappointing, because she herself was a triplet (and her sire came from a good line of multiples). But at this point, I'm just thankful this one didn't freeze to death. Forty pounds of lamb meat this fall, and a beautiful black fleece, is much better than none at all.


Athos said...

As one whose grandfather had 120 acres of sandy soil farmland in southern Michigan and who dreams of moving to 10 acres far away from northern Virginia, I enjoy the exploits of the Yeoman Farmer.

Best to you and yours this Easter. +

Diane said...

Happy Easter! Thanks for the lamb picture. The sweetish smell of a baby lamb is one of my favorite farm smells. Glad Enigma and Lamb Chop (LOL) are doing well. I'm waiting for baby angora bunnies this morning.