Our first lamb of the year arrived yesterday. After our sheepy morning at the local wool fair, we had a sheepy afternoon. We noticed that Mrs Eyebrows was in the first stages of labour so replanned our afternoon to keep an eye on her. I even took some knitting out to the stable for a while to sit nearby. She did well for the first few hours but by teatime it was obvious baby was stuck. The problem with Suffolks (and this baby is half Suffolk, being Lambo’s daughter) is that they have big heads and our experience has been that Suffolk blood means one big baby rather than too little twins.
So I gathered Chris and Benj and we herded her back to the stable. She’d wandered back out to the sunshine earlier. It took a couple of goes. Even with portions of offspring protruding, a sheep is surprisingly nippy. The lads held her still and I got busy with the lubricant. Poor Mrs Eyebrows. Baby’s muzzle was worryingly cold. Had we left it too late?
I got a firm hold on the little hoofs and over the next few contractions, some firm but gentle tugs got baby halfway out. Mum had a rest then a final push and the lamb was fully out. I checked her airways, tickled her nose, gave her a brisk rub and she started wriggling and breathing. Relief. I sloshed some iodine on her tummy button then beat a hasty retreat so mum and baby could get to know each other. Mum was standing in the corner looking slightly stunned, and understandably so. Baby wriggled then gave a tiny bleat. Mum instantly responded and trotted over. Baby kept calling and trying to lift her head.
We held our breath. It was at this stage last year that No. 27 had begun butting baby Lambo and trying to kill him. Would the same thing happen? We’d sworn we’d never handrear another lamb, but I knew I couldn’t give up on this little grey bundle without at least trying, if the need arose. However, when Mrs Eyebrows got to her lamb, whom we’ve decided to call April, she immediately started licking her.
She was still licking her an hour later! Mother and baby were clearly highly delighted to get together and within half an hour April was on her wobbly feet. Not much later and she was suckling.
We kept the other two sheep and alpaca Seamus away from them overnight but they’ve all been introduced this morning and we have a very happy herd.
We hadn’t been 100% certain that Mrs E was even pregnant, given that Lambo wasn’t in good health over the winter. But, knowing beyond any doubt now that she was, Spotty Sheep will be the next to produce a baby as she’s every bit as rounded as her sister was. Were still not sure about the Suffolk but time will tell.
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