Sunday, February 20, 2011
This little girl was born Friday afternoon, after a very long morning of laboring for my ewe, Esther. Although I knew that Esther typically has multiple births, we watched and waited; and waited and watched until I was frozen in position. No more babies and no more signs of labor. I checked with the vet and they said that not always do they have multiples and they couldn't obviously diagnose her over the phone, but that things sounded okay.
That was until I got up early to check on them yesterday morning and found her straining and pushing! A whole day later...which is not a good thing. We ran back to the house only to find that the vet had a morning already filled with patients...it was do or die time. My handy dandy vet kit, a bucket of clean water and the daughter, husband and I were off!
Husband held Esther, daughter held baby right where Mama could see her and I went in! Baby #2 was lodged in a breach position and was stuck in her pelvis, I had a heck of a time getting him out, but I did it! I cried and mourned when I got back home, like any good Shepherd would, but I am still very grateful I have so far been able to save my Esther Girl, and we were all thankful that this guy was not in position #1.
Now, I have learned a few things from this experience. First and foremost...call your trusted friends and neighbors in times like these. I called a neighbor about getting the new baby some raw milk in case we need to supplement her and she had a great pointer for me. When a female still has a baby in her belly, their tummies are still hard and when they are done with birthing, it goes soft; I sure wish I had this bit of info the day before. There is a simple way to test for this, by wrapping your arms around the female and sort of hugging her in a downward motion as you straddle her. This is something not even the vet had mentioned.
The other is to always trust your instincts when it comes to your critters, or anything for that matter (more on that and why I have been absent in future posts...), but especially when working with animals. They have no way of telling you when they are in distress, and believe me, I spent hours on Friday looking for signs of labor or distress and saw none. They are absolute masters at disguising any weakness. My gut told me that I should have gone in sooner, but who wants to stick their arm in a sheep unnecessarily? Not me.
Not only because of the obvious reasons, but for Esther's sake mostly. I didn't want to infect her unless I absolutely had to. I am also a newbie (second year) at Shepherding, even though it was my maiden name, and so I don't know if all sheep who usually have multiple births always have multiple births, you know? I wasn't sure I would even know what I was feeling for.
Lastly I would like to say that the internet was no help at all (about things like how far apart lambs should be born, etc.). Either people that have sheep spend a ton of money and really depend on their vets (they must not be hands on or in in my case-ha!), or just don't get online much. But, after talking with my neighbor, I did find a very informative website about goats that will help me with these endeavors in the future. Goats and sheep are very similar and so I will be able to take what I need and adjust and apply it where I see fit.
I say it time and again folks, trust your instincts, make a list of mentors and friends to help guide you through the emergency times, and then most importantly remember to use it! Oh, and don't forget to let everyone in on the fun, even Avalanche the rooster had to be a part of lambing season at The Royal Ranch!