Yesterday morning Melinda and I found ourselves in a puzzling situation. Our older Romney ewe, Swiss Miss, was in labor for quite a while and not progressing. Finally we decided we needed to investigate. I held Swiss Miss and Melinda examined her and found her cervix fully dilated, but no lamb in the birth canal or up against the cervix. When she reached further into the uterus, she felt a huge water bag, but could get no sense of the lamb inside. We had never experienced anything quite like this—usually when the cervix is fully dilated there is a lamb right there, pushing up against it and ready to enter the birth-canal and be born. My cousin Linda who comes from Idaho for lambing every year was en route, but not due to arrive until Monday. I gave her a call and we discussed the situation. Given that Swiss Miss was in full labor but the lamb wasn’t aligned to be born, we decided we needed to break the water bag, and see what was inside.
I held Swiss Miss and Melinda went in again, and broke the water bag. Out gushed the first of several tidal waves of birth fluids involved in this birth. Melinda was completely drenched. She found a lamb inside, but its head was lolling, not in proper presentation to be born. Melinda managed to get the head and forelegs lined up, and pulled the lamb into the birth canal and out of the ewe. It was dead, which was very sad, but not surprising. The fact that it was dead and unmoving was probably why the water bag didn’t break and the lamb never positioned properly to be born. As soon as we got that lamb out, Melinda checked again and there was lamb number 2, already being born! And after that lamb, a third! So Swiss Miss had been carrying triplets and wound up with two healthy big black boys.
It was a beautiful day and Melinda and I got all the chores done. I was due to attend a “steekalong” knitting workshop given by Gayle Ravenscroft at the Fibershed Learning Center from 2:00 to 4:00, and really didn’t want to miss it, as I’m eager to learn the steeking technique and also many of the students in the class are knitting with my yarns. Melinda went up to check the pasture around noon and called me on the radio to say she had a ewe in labor at the top of the hill, and someone was baaing in the shelter and she wondered if I could check that out. I went to the shelter and found Cinder, one of our black Corriedale ewes, in labor. Melinda tended her ewe (20016, one of our few ewes who doesn’t have a name), and I watched Cinder, and we checked in with each other by radio for the next half-hour or so. Neither ewe was progressing fast, and I wasn’t going to leave the ranch leaving Melinda all alone, in case either birth became complicated. I had planned to bring yarn to the class for one of the students, and called Gayle to make a contingency plan, since it wasn’t looking like I would make it.
Then Melinda’s ewe popped out twin boys within 10 minutes of each other, and while I was up with Melinda photographing them, Cinder delivered a nice black boy! We got Melinda’s ewe into the barn with her lambs, brought Cinder and her lamb down close to the barn, leaving them in a grassy area outside in case Cinder had a second, and I took off for my class. Cinder did have a second, a white boy. We are having quite a run of boys at the moment!