Saturday, April 25, 2009


The Fiddler on the Roof song is going through my head this morning... "wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles"... My lambing adventure if over for this year and it ended with a miracle. It started of course, with Brida and her twins, one of which we lost. Then Draga had her lamb in the middle of the night. She was textbook in her labour symptoms - exactly as they describe it. However, her wee one (also a girl) was born rear feet first and her slower-first-time labour wasn't fast enough and it was born dead. Another black girl but she weighed only 4 lbs.

Freya was anything but textbook. She showed signs that she would deliver within hours - mucous plug and colostrum coming out of her teats last Sunday night. Kaetlyn and I took turns checking on her every half hour. Nothing. Monday I had to go to Salmon Arm with Rhiannon for her music festival. I have never spent such an anxious day and tried my best not to imagine coming home to a dead sheep with a lamb stuck in her.... but I have a very active imagination and I can tell you that I was never so glad to see a dirty white face as I was that night.

So our vigil continued. Kaetlyn was indispensable. She would take the first night watch - usually until 4am when I would get up. Night after night after night. Nothing. On Wednesday, more gel like substance came out. This time, I sent Rhiannon with some others from our violin group as I just wasn't up for the worry. But still nothing.

Until yesterday, Friday, April 24. I had this feeling I wasn't going to make my ballet class... Sure enough when I went to check on the sheep before it was time to leave for dance class, I discovered Freya in the throws of labour (all that night time checking and she has it in the middle of the day!). She walked all over the pasture and would be overcome, lay down and push, get up walk around, lay down and push. Kaetlyn and I followed her around like nervous midwives, offering apples and grain. Finally she came out of the sun, into the shade of the trees and let us get close enough to her rear end to have a good look. I could find one white hoof in the birth canal. I could feel the other hoof back a bit which meant that the elbow was bent and stuck on the pelvic girdle. I fished around for 30 minutes but couldn't loosen it. This is where things start to get miraculous.

My friend, Shoshanna, who spins my wool just happened to be making a rare visit to our farm that day to see our spring babies. She has exceptionally small hands. She got in there and worked the other food out. By now it had been at least an hour of pushing (supposed to take only 30 minutes). Together we pulled on these two legs and stretched her vuvla around the emerging head which was huge. Poor Freya. She pushed and groaned for all she was worth. We could see a little purple tongue hanging out of his mouth and I thought the lamb was likely dead. But then we saw the little nose blowing bubbles and knew he was alive. We eventually got his head out which was so difficult because his little horns were already 3/4 of an inch high. Unbelievable! The rest of him just slid out. Beautiful white boy who weighs 8 lbs. 8 lbs! They both just layed there for the longest time, her licking him off without standing up. We all helped dry him off with towells. We had accumulated quite an audience by this time - Rhiannon, Ursula, our neighbours.

Thank God that Shoshana was there or I am sure I would have had to bury Freya with her lamb stuck inside her. And thank God he is alive and thriving. For all her night time vigils that have allowed me to at least get enough sleep to function, Kaetlyn has named him Avaldi which means "very powerful, old and rare man's name". There is an accent over the A. It is an Icelandic name of course. This Icelandic name, means of course that he is not destined for the freezer. Her is registerable, for one and besides that, I just couldn't eat him after that birth.

Isn't he gorgeous?!

And that is the end of my lamb adventures for this year. In the end, I had 4 lambs - 2 girls and two boys. Both the girls were black (same colour as the dad) and both are dead. The two boys are the same colour as their mothers and both are doing well. And most importantly, all my moms are doing well.

Sweet relief. I don't think I have ever slept as well as I slept last night!


Laura said...

wow, who knew having lambs could be so intense! said...

how exciting! I approve of the name :)

katie said...

i'm so glad he survived! too bad about the black girls.