Well, here is a story I started to post earlier today, and then thought I had better wait to see whether it had a happy or a horrible ending:
With East Friesians, it seems there is never a lambing season but begins with a high-risk pregnancy in the barn. This season it is Blaze, a 3-year-old ewe who was heavy with lambs and a huge udder, when she got knocked down by another ewe on Thursday night, and that was it–she couldn’t get up. We got her up, but her hind legs wouldn’t support her. So we built a pen around her and we are rotating her from one side to the other several times a day, cleaning under her and trying to keep her comfortable. Yesterday she quit eating and, and since her due date is tomorrow, this morning I decided to induce labor. It will take 36-48 hours but hopefully we will have a happy ending. The good news is that she regained her appetite today and snacked all day on alfalfa, grain and fresh grass-salad. When I saw her ruminating it warmed my heart–means she has been eating enough to have a cud to chew, and that means her rumen is still healthy. When they quit eating and their rumen shuts down they are in much worse trouble. I will be waking myself up every hour or so all night to see if Blaze is in labor yet because when she is she will need help.
The ending WAS happy, and arrived sooner than I could have hoped for!
Tonight I was just sitting down to meatloaf and a glass of wine at 7:30 when I looked at the lamb-cam and saw that Blaze, the ewe who has been down since Friday, had drastically moved in her pen. Something was up–I threw on my coveralls and ran up to the barn. I had been expecting one or two nights of checking her every hour or so, but when I got to the barn, as the lights were coming on I could see that she had a lamb half-born. I leaped over the panel into her pen, snagged my pants on the hog panel like in some sort of slapstick comedy, spilled the bucket of supplies I was carrying and dove forward, managing to pull out a huge lamb, who was already making sucking motions with his mouth before I had even got him all the way out. Mom cleaned him off, I got him to her teat and he had a good drink. Nursing stimulates contractions and out popped lamb number two, another boy, this one itty-bitty. I thought he wouldn’t survive, but he was a pistol, very energetic. Another water bag emerged, and another boy. I got the three lambs nursing, and weighed them, what a discrepancy. The first was 11 lbs and the second 4.25 lbs. The third was 6.25 and I was thinking “small, medium and large,” when a fourth water bag emerged. Damn it…quads. A strapping black boy, 8.5 lbs, so four boys.
Lisa happened into the barn with groceries (it is her day off) when I was up to my armpits in slime, and I was very glad to see her. She has already named the little guy Mitt-bit (Mitt the Romney is the father), and the big one Top Gun. Blaze guzzled a couple of buckets of warm water with molasses. She wasn’t strong enough to get up yet, but was clearly feeling much better to have relieved herself of 30 lbs of lambs. We rolled her every which way, washed and dried her underparts, re-bedded her pen with dry absorbent bedding, and when we left the barn, mother and babes were all very content. I got home at 10:30, had cold meatloaf and warm wine, and am heading off to bed looking forward to a good sleep.