One Cold Spring Night

1:57 am Friday March 15, 2019.

I was dreaming when suddenly in my dream the person who was talking began baaaing (is that a word?) at me. Again, BAAA, BAAA.  By the third BAAA I was thinking, why is that lamb so loud, is it outside the bedroom window? Then another one, BAAA!  This 4th one woke me up completely, and I jumped out of bed and opened the shade to see where the lamb was. I wasn’t fully awake but I was looking for where the lambs were and thinking that maybe they got loose from their pen or worse yet, maybe a coyote was in the pen.

Mike woke up and asked me what I was doing. I still wasn’t sure but told him, something was wrong, the lambs were baaing, “I think, but maybe I was just dreaming, I don’t know”. Then there was another one. Mike jumped out of bed and we quickly threw on clothes, turned on the big outside lights, grabbed a flashlight and ran outside.

The lambs all seemed shook up and flighty, running around the pen. We quickly assessed that there weren’t any predators in there, then Mike spotted Elsie off in the corner hunching her back. “I think she’s in labor” he said, he was shining the flashlight on her and I saw something swinging underneath her. “Yes, I think that’s birthing stuff (very technical term i know, but what is that even called?) hanging out” I said.

“OK, well we need to get her into the barn near a heat lamp.” I said, but Darn it! it’s really cold out here! I need to go get a coat. So I ran into the house and grabbed a coat for each of us, as I knew now we were going to be up for a while. I also grabbed a couple of old towels and a cell phone and ran back outside. When I got back outside, Mike had already figured out what stall we were using and had moved out the goat and her babies into the hall and was trying to get Elsie into the stall. I helped him get her in and now that we had light we could see that there was a hoof and a head out. “How long does ewe labor last?” This is our first lambing and we had no idea. Mike tried to look it up but unfortunately the phone I grabbed was on death’s door and immediately powered off as soon as he tried to look it up. DARN!! So I ran back inside to get on the desk top computer. A quick google search brought me to the answer. 30-45 minutes after the hooves appear, but moving the ewe might disrupt the labor. I ran back outside with the information. Mike had now had enough time to assess the situation watch her, and yes her labor seemed to have arrested. We waited about another 10 minutes, while we waited, Elsie pawed the hay, fluffed it up and made a soft bed that she laid on. It was now about 2:20 so doing the math she was in labor before I woke up and it’s clearly been over 30 minutes since the hooves and head showed, we decided to help it out a little. Mike found both hooves and pulled a little while he slid his fingers behind the lambs head. It didn’t take a lot but obviously this little bit was enough that Elsie began pushing again and the lamb slid out.

Mike took one of the towels and cleared the baby’s nose so he could breath but left all the birthing matter in place, and we stepped back to let Elsie take care of things. We didn’t want to interfere too much and we wanted her to take control of things. She did and after a few minutes of rest she stood up and started cleaning the baby. We let her do most of the cleaning and the baby started looking for her udder. It took a bit of searching but it found the udder and began nursing. That’s always a relief once you see that the baby has the instinct and figures out where to go. After about 20 minutes it was clear she wasn’t getting it all cleaned off and it was getting cold. I clipped the umbilical cord a little shorter so that it didn’t drag on the ground and dipped it into some iodine. Then I wiped it down and checked gender. A boy! Once I got him dry enough and put him under the heat lamp he stopped shivering so much. Elsie didn’t act like she was still in labor so we went back to bed about 3:30 am.

It’s been a long time waiting for the first lambs to be born. We had never seen our ram Magic Mike, purchased in March of 2018, mount either of the ewes, and frankly we were starting to worry that we had purchased a bum ram – even though we were told that he had sired numerous other kids on the farm where we purchased him from. We even did a google search about whether sheep could be gay. It turns out about 12% of the population is gay. HUH! who knew? We’re now waiting for Heidi to give birth.