Thursday, February 17, 2011

Solstice and Equinox

Trouble, one of my favorite ewes, gave birth today. She's one of our 2 year old ewes that was born on the farm, and this was her first time lambing. She really seemed to be struggling, and I was tempted to help out. She is normally very friendly and loves being scratched behind the ears. But I was making her nervous today. Could have been first time jitters, some of the older ewes don't seem to care when I am around.

I just happened to go outside to feed Cornelius. Since we are expecting Alice to go any day now, I peeked in the stalls to see if she was in there. I found Trouble making odd sounds and pawing the ground, so I kicked everyone else out, and closed her in, so she'd feel safe. I gave her some oats and a bucket of water, and Shannon and I waited.

The first one seemed to be a struggle. It appeared at first that only one hoof was presenting. I was really afraid I'd have to stick a hand in there and get the other hoof out. But she didn't want me near, so I decided to give her a chance, as long as I was seeing progress. Eventually the other hoof came and a little head tumbled out, so I let her be. It can be some time between lambings, and I assumed she had twins, based on her size. So I left her alone with her little one while she cleaned it off.

I came back out later, and she was working on number two. Something wasn't right, and I couldn't put a finger on it until it came out. They all move during lambing - you can see twitching, and as soon as that head pops out, you'll see it move. Even before their rear legs are out, you can see the lamb trying to break the sac to breathe.

Number 2 never moved, and he was so very very small. Solstice (the first born ewe) was a very little girl herself. And Equinox was even smaller. The sack never broke. I gave mama a chance to do something, but she abandoned it straight away. I tore open that sack to see if it would breath, but it was gone. The umbilical cord was twisted up like a pretzel. I think the little guy got stoked off in the womb, and starved. I've never seen a cord so twisted up. This, again, was a case of nothing we could do. But having 2 stillborns in one go round is very sad.

but Trouble knew. She never nudged it, isn't acting like anything is missing, she's doting on little Solstice, and I think all will be well with them both. I just hate the thought of such a precious little life that never had a chance.