Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's a Boy!

Phyllis finally had her lamb today!  I got to see it happen!  A little before 9 am this morning I was about to eat breakfast when I thought instead, "I will go check on the sheep really quick."  Joey had told me earlier this morning as he was leaving for work that he thought Phyllis would have her lamb today and he closed her in the barn by herself.  When I stepped inside the barn there was Phyllis, laying down, with the lamb halfway out already.  I ran to get my phone and the lambing kit from the house and she got him out all the way just as I was getting back.  She immediately stood up and started licking him off and cleaning him up, she is such a good mother.  I was on the phone with Joey, who was at work :(  I knew I would have to be the one to take care of his umbilical cord so I got the Storey's Guide to Sheep out with me in the barn and read all about the iodine I needed to apply.  I called my mom at work and she was practically in tears she was so excited.  It took about half an hour until he started moving around and trying to stand up.  He looked like a little baby deer, unsteady on his long legs.  He wobbled around and fell down a couple times until he started to get the hang of it.  

I waited another 15 minutes until he could stand and got the iodine out of the lambing kit.  I called Joey and he said that I also had to squirt a vitamin liquid into his mouth to give him energy and nutrients.  I cut his umbilical cord with scissors and then dipped what was left in an iodine-filled shot glass (I hope Joey doesn’t want to use it anymore!)  The iodine helps to dry out the cord and prevents bacteria from getting into the cut.  You have to use blunt scissors to discourage bleeding.  Then I gave him 2 squirts of vitamins and tried to get him to drink milk from his mom.  I sat back and watched for half an hour but he just wasn’t getting it.  I began to worry because he still hadn’t eaten yet and the first milk is very important.  

The first milk from the ewe has colostrum, which contains antibodies and nutrients that protect the baby from bacteria and disease.  He kept trying to nurse from his mom’s front legs.  He even came over and tried to suck on the back of my knees.  I consulted Joey and the book again and they said that sometimes there is a wax build-up that prevents the milk from flowing and that I would have to remove it.  I tried to squeeze some milk on the lamb’s mouth but none would come out.  I could feel that her udders were very full but nothing would come out.  I milked a cow once at the state fair, so I thought I knew what I was doing…but nothing.  So I scraped with my fingernail and got a little wax off.  And then I stuck his head there and his mouth found the teat and started sucking.  He was sucking away but I couldn’t tell if he was getting any milk.  So I got down and was seriously up in poor Phyllis’ business trying to see what was going on down there.  Luckily she was very patient with her lamb and very understanding of me poking and prodding and touching her baby.  Finally, I saw some milk on the baby’s mouth and lips so I knew he was eating.  Also the book says that the baby is eating if his tail wags back and forth like crazy and if his sides fill in so that they don’t have rolls of skin.  He ate for a while and then both momma and baby laid down and fell asleep curled up together.  

Look at those ears!
 It was one of the most amazing mornings of my life.  Last night, I went to sleep not knowing how to do any of the things I have just done to take care of the new lamb, and now I am amazed at myself for doing them.  I feel like a real shepherd now, taking care of my flock.  I set up a chair in the barn and watched them, and I was thinking, “That’s it.  I’m hooked.  I’ve got to have sheep for the rest of my life.”  When I finally went inside the house, I had so much adrenaline and excitement, I realized I was shaking!  I can’t wait to get home from work to see them again and I can’t wait to share them with Joey went he gets home.  It’s been a great day:  the sun is out, it’s starting to feel like spring, we have a new baby lamb, I learned how to take care of a newborn lamb….and my Girl Scout cookies were just delivered to the library! Hehe.

Sleepy Heads

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