Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tough Delivery

This little fellow should not be alive. Nor are we sure he will survive the night. His mother is also in pretty bad shape but trying as hard as she can to be a good mama.

I went out at about 3:30 to gather more eggs. As I rounded the corner, I saw this ewe on the ground with a huge lamb's head sticking out of her. That is not a good sign for a normal delivery. I checked to find that the lamb had its left leg out but there was no sign of his right leg. His face was tremendously swollen as he was stuck. His tongue was turning blue but he was still breathing. I tried gently tugging to free him but he was way too stuck for that option. Ordinarily when only a single leg presents, you gently push he lamb's head back in, fish around for the other leg & then pull the lamb out again by the legs. This little head was so terribly swollen that pushing it back in was not an option.

I went into the stable to get a towel thinking that a firmer grip might help me to tug it out. All I could find was a sweatshirt so I hurried back with that. To make a long story short, I could not budge this fellow by myself. I was pulling the whole ewe across the ground with my efforts. I called Al who immediately left the office. He was home in forty very long minutes. He thought the little lamb had already suffocated but noticed a little movement. I held the front of the ewe and Al tugged. It took a good ten minutes to make progress but the little lamb never stopped trying to live and its mama never gave up either. We finally freed an enormous little ram lamb. His head was too swollen to stand with any kind of balance but he kept trying. Mama was a mess but got busy right away cleaning up her baby.

I went immediately to the house for penicillin, a shot of B vitamins & another shot to take some of the edge off of mama's pain. We then left them alone, anxious for what would happen but not in a position to help much more. Al returned to work, I gathered eggs & mama rested with her big boy.

We've just put them into a stall in the stable for the night. Mama is still bleeding more than I would like but the lamb's head is getting smaller. He has nursed even though his distorted face makes it hard. The more his swelling goes down, the better he should be able to eat. He'd obviously had enough to get him on his feet so we felt like milking out mama & tube feeding him was just too invasive right now.

I know I will not sleep well tonight thinking about this little ewe & her new fellow. We have lots of sheep but each is special & we try our hardest to do our best with them. Left to themselves, both would have died by nightfall so trying to save one or both with all our tugging & carrying on could not have made the situation any worse. We'll just have to see.

Pig Update: The fellows are loving the dirt. They root until they are tired & then nap in their freshly tilled bed.

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