It was a typical day during lambing season. Barn checks were done every whip-stitch, while trying to finish up necessary chores in-between. When I headed to the barn for the 11 a.m. check, I knew something was not quite right.
The flock was worked up, the noise deafening. I was stunned to see a wet, newborn lamb crying, stuck between two board fences.
There was no ewe nearby laying claim to him. I slowly and carefully worked to untangle those long, fragile legs, then tucked the cold little lamb in a towel as I moved toward an open corner pen with a heat lamp.
I rubbed the forlorn-looking ram lamb, to dry him as well as stimulate blood flow. I left him under the heat lamp and went in search of the ewe who had left him. Soon enough, I found the ewe giving birth to a second, smaller ewe lamb.
I went and picked up the ram lamb, scooped up the newly-born one, and tried to urge the mama to follow. She wanted nothing to do with that plan. It took a whole lot of time and patience, but I was finally able to accomplish it, secured the ewe and her lambs in that warming pen, then worked at putting down fresh straw. I checked all the other ewes to be sure none showed sign of birthing. I stood back, letting the ewe get settled.
Each time the ram lamb would try to get close enough to nurse, she head-butted him, aggressively. I climbed back in the pen and tried to help. She would kick and bolt away from the lamb, though she was showing signs of accepting the second-born.
I tried leaving the pen again, observing from a distance. It was clear she intended to get rid of that ram lamb, no matter how long it took. Nothing makes me more angry than this.
Nourishment. I spent the rest of the day in the barn, helping, then retreating. I made sure both lambs nursed, knowing the importance of that colostrum, fighting her kicks, until she began aggressively head-butting me.
When Doug arrived home, he tied her for a time. As nighttime settled in, the temperatures falling, we decided taking the ram lamb in the house was the only thing to do, knowing that tiny lamb would be dead by morning if we didn’t.
“Just one night,” I said with every intention of meaning it. Diapering a lamb is something I never, ever thought I would do. This long-bodied lamb required two diapers: one covering the back end, a spot cut for the tail. A second diaper wraps under him, attaching over the topside.
All the important stuff covered, I warmed a bottle to help him settle in for the night. From night into morning, the lamb quietly slept. He welcomed me with a happy dance, running in that humorous way that newborn animals do, urging me to get that milk delivered!
The sound of his hooves on our hardwood floors took me back to watching the Red Skelton show, enjoying both listening and watching that silly guy tap dancing. Does anyone tap dance anymore? Well, this lamb sure does. His silly antics have made us laugh harder than we have in a long time. This ram has his own fan club.
“Just one night” has turned into five.
He is growing incredibly well, twice the size he started out on that chilly morning. He can drink his bottle much faster than the previous day, and it shows. He quite obviously thinks that I am his mama.
He has visitors and Facebook friends. His favorite place to sleep is in a cushy dog bed, and he tries to play with the dog toys lying about. My dogs don’t know what to make of this little thing that has a very strange bark and loves sleeping in their bed.
I don’t know what to make of the fact that I sort of feel like his protective mama. He has won me over in a way I never in a million years expected, while his birth mother earned herself a one-way ticket out of here one day soon.
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