Isn’t “Birth Stories” a cheesy TLC show? If I recall correctly, it is, or was. We don’t have TV.
I am pleased because I actually have a birth story for Peggy, my little brown wondersheep. Instead of the usual “I went down to the barn and there were lambs!”, Peggy graciously permitted me to assist her birth.
Yesterday at mid-day, I had noticed that Peggy’s udder was larger and more swollen than before. Her teats were red and protruding. Nevertheless, she didn’t seem to be in any labor and I didn’t think she’d lamb very soon. When I checked on the sheep after work, Peggy was baahing at regular intervals. Every Baa seemed to correspond to a contraction. In the dark of the barn, I could see something shiny on her rear. A flashlight revealed the amniotic sac – the first sign in the progression of labor.
I went into the house and gave her some space. When I came back, she was lying down and hard at work pushing and grunting. The other sheep surrounded her, staring at me and seeming to intentionally block my view. I saw two hooves and a nose- I was pretty sure she was having a normal birth. I left her alone for another 15 minutes and thawed my fingers on a warm cup of tea with Jake, the farm owner. Walking back to the barn, I could still hear the steady “baa, baa, baa” of Peggy’s labor. I figured she was still working on pushing out the lamb. When I opened the barn door, however, she was steadily licking a little white ewe lamb, still baahing intermittently. I grabbed a towel and went to work, helping dry the lamb in a barn that was about 10 degrees, maybe cooler. Unlike my other more skittish sheep, Peggy seemed to welcome my assistance. She licked her lamb’s face while I hastily toweled off the lambs belly and legs.
After a few minutes of serious lamb-wiping, Peggy suddenly seemed to decide that she needed to lick up some of the goo she had expelled. From my experience with goats, I knew it was normal for a sheep to want to lick up the fluids and materials expelled during birth (as unappealing as that might seem to me). “Peggy, your lamb is over here!” I tried to remind her. I took a good look at the pile of goo she was working on, and realized that she had birthed a little black ewe lamb! I brought the white lamb over and together, Peggy and I dried everyone off.
Of my sheep births thusfar, Peggy might be my mother of the year. She allowed me to handle her newborns, she allowed me to assist them in nursing and stood still while I guided her lambs to the teats. She even let me remove a few frozen turds from her beautiful wool. At the 9pm, 11pm and 6am checks, her lambs were fat and fed, sleeping in the cozy little pen where I had confined them. If they grow up big and strong, I’ll keep them both.