Lightning round lambing ends 2022

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lambs and ewes
Winter lambing didn't start fast, but it sure zipped by quickly at the end. Just like 2022. Onward. (Rebecca Miller photo)

The pregnant ewes waited until the early morning hours of a mid December newspaper deadline day to start birthing in earnest. It was as if they had a committee meeting.

“All those in favor of starting lambing for real on Rebecca’s busiest day of the week, say aye.”

“The ayes have it.”

Chaos

For the first three weeks of lambing, a measly 10 ewes dropped lambs. That first onslaught was like a signal: almost all of the 50 remaining ewes lambed over the next four days.

It was chaos. I would say “managed chaos,” but who am I kidding? There are folks who do lightning round lambings. It works well in some situations. But when you’re not expecting that kind of intensity, especially with what was a relatively small winter lambing, it can catch you flat footed. No sooner had we filled lambing pens, we had to empty them for new ewes and lambs. Thankfully, the ewes were in good shape, and the lambs jumped up the minute they hit the ground, ready to tackle the world.

Change

Despite the crazy lamb monsoon, it was a welcome change from the previous lambings this year. Between ewes coming out of last winter’s gnarly weather in less than ideal condition and some unknown issues with lamb health in the summer as well, we limped through 2022 on the farm. It was the icing on a not-so-palatable cake this year.
We’ve all slogged through the past couple of pandemic years. At first, we were resolved. Sort of. Then, we were hopeful — or annoyed by the stops and starts of getting back to a “normal” life. It really seemed to depend on the day.

This year felt intensely personal. For a lot of us. We shared about some of that here in the Farm and Dairy. Loss and grief aren’t linear. They’re messy and difficult and can hit at the least opportune times. This year, instead of the pandemic being the culprit, it was the loss of loved ones.

I’ve run the gamut of emotions. It was exhausting but oddly cathartic in a way. I’m ready to move forward. Maybe not at a sprint, but at least at a steady pace.

The end

Just before the next Tuesday newspaper deadline, the last ewe went into labor. I ended up pulling the massive single — figures: the ewe sat around eating extra supplementation for a month before giving birth.

It took some maneuvering. The front legs were back and the head was huge. I wrestled against the ewe’s contractions, sprawled on the ground. I pushed the head back enough to hook a finger around a front leg and pull. The lamb slid out awkwardly, shaking its head before it hit the ground. The ewe got to work immediately, cleaning and caring for it.

I smirked. It was a fitting end to the lambing, and the year, really. On to 2023.

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