It has been a loooooonnnnng week for me and I must admit to being (physically) toasted right about now. I have been on Lamb Watch for Rachel my ewe. Finnsheep have a gestation of 142-144 days and most shepardess’ use 142 days as the benchmark.
Rachel’s 142 days was on Sunday, January 13th. So what does this mean? It means that starting 2 days before the due date you start Lamb Watch and it goes like this:
Friday 3:00 AM – Alarm goes off, put on really warm clothes since we are in a huge cold snap. Trudge out to the barn and watch Rachel for a bit – NOTHING. Back to the bed and try to go back to sleep.
Saturday 3:00 AM – Alarm goes off, put on really warm clothes, check Rachel NOTHING, try to go back to sleep.
Sunday 3:00 AM – Alarm, warm clothes, Rachel NOTHING, sleep?
Monday 2:30 AM – Wake up before the alarm because now it’s a pattern, warm clothes, Rachel NOTHING, too exhausted to go back to sleep quickly.
Tuesday 2:00 AM – Wake up before the alarm because now it’s a pattern AND I’m starting to feel like an idiot for doing this so much, warm clothes, Rachel NOTHING, what’s sleep?
Wednesday 1:00 AM – Wake up way before the alarm, dress warmly and go out for the now dreaded and very frosty trudge to the barn. Turn on the barn lights and gaze, yet again, at Rachel’s backside. And then I see it! A thin mucus string from her vulva and EUREKA!!! She will lamb soon.
Rachel dropped her first ram lamb about a ½ hour later. Turns out this boy is the biggest at 6.5 pounds and has an awesome mustache and I’ve named him Hugo. A big, vigorous guy and of course Rachel’s fav since he came out first.
There was a pretty big pause at this point which I find to be normal with the multiple births. I went inside for hot coffee and to add more layers since I was freezing!
Ram lamb number two came at about 3:00 AM. I could tell that he was going to be small by the size of his nose and front legs hanging out. Often the nose/ head will hang out for a bit and it is freaky to see the nose and mouth moving. It the umbilical cord has snapped inside the ewe they can even be breathing at this time of partial birth. I use this
time to start cleaning out the mouth and nose.
Little ram lamb two slide out and Rachael started to clean him. No breathing or head shaking. I quickly picked him up by his hind legs and swung him like the pendulum on a clock. I laid him back down and watched his chest move in a few uneven breaths and then stop. I again picked him up and swung him and was rewarded with a shaking head and sneezing when I laid him down. Peanut weighs in at a tiny 3.47 pounds – but he has a mighty baa!
In quick succession came ewe lamb one weighting 5.21 pounds (Sweet Pea) and ewe lamb two weighting 5.27 pounds and named Charlie because she was a Charlie Chaplin ‘stash.
I made sure all were relatively dry, suckled and under a heat lamp and tottered off to bed.
It’s now 7:00 PM and all is pretty good. The lambs are doing well and Rachel will definitely nurse her first two lambs (the rams). She is hit or miss with the ewes and her last two born. This is not uncommon at all. I’ll do a few supplemental bottle feedings a day and also hold her for a few more feedings. Hopefully, she will continue to mellow.
I had been worried that Rachel was getting thin and had put her in her own paddock for the past few weeks with extra hay and grain. With all of the babies out of her she really is very thin. She will get all that she can eat, but she hasn’t had the best appetite over the past week. Hopefully this will change quickly and she’ll get some of her weight back.