Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Lamb

Early Easter morning Al went out to feed the chickens. I followed closely behind as I wanted to give Amy, our oldest Anatolian Shepherd, her thyroid medicine. As I started to cross the barnyard, Al called out to let me know that we had a new baby. I was rather surprised to discover that Naomi, our oldest Shetland sheep, had given birth. We hadn't a clue that she was pregnant. She had not developed an udder and was not wiggling restlessly as most of the mothers do before birth.

Apparently, Naomi was not expecting this big event either. She had only half-heartedly cleaned her newborn lamb and then sat herself down. We shuffled them both into the barn. The first thing I did was to check that Naomi's teats were open as the little lamb was energetic and trying to stand up to begin its search for a first meal. Naomi was completely dry. We put a heat lamp on the little one as it was chilled from not being thoroughly cleaned at birth. I knew that somewhere in the freezer I had frozen goat colostrum which we save for such a predicament as this. I found a two year old bottle and put it in warm tap water to thaw.

We fed and watered Naomi who was still exhausted from her birthing experience. She had no interest in the lamb or what we were doing to it. She preferred to stay on her own side of the stall, busy with some corn.

To make a long story short, we spent the rest of the day fooling with the new lamb. It was tiny and just shook even under the heat lamp. But it was trying so very hard to live. Our day was made up of lamb and ewe visits probably every twenty minutes. The little one took a bottle well with some initial coaching and grew stronger as the day passed. Naomi also recovered but continued to show no interest in her lamb.

By the end of the day, I took the little lamb out for a walk. I wanted her to be up and about rather than laying in a box under a heat lamp. Ravi, one of the Anatolians, was quite interested in her and looked after her for a bit while I planted a little more in the garden.

I continued to check on Naomi. Most new mothers would have panicked if their lamb had disappeared but she was not concerned. At one point I thought she was searching the stable for her lamb but she was looking for bits of dropped grain.

By the end of the day it was obvious that this little one was to be our lamb. She spent the night in a box by the bed so that I did not have to go far to give her a bottle. She ate once in the night and went right back to sleep. By morning she was visiting with the house cats and prancing around the kitchen. Guess we have a baby in the house for a bit.

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