There was drama here on Monday night when Rosebud was lambing. We only sent two ewes off to the ram this year, a handsome Shetland boy living with our neighbours (and mentors in farming). Rosebud was the first to lamb. At midnight I went out (in my pyjamas...) to check on her and found her waterbag was out. (I'll spare you the pictures of that...)
So I quickly donned some wet gear (over my PJs of course) and grabbed the lambing kit we had assembled, the camera and a wee stool and went off to the stables and waited.
...and waited...a second water bag appeared and then some time later both burst. Meanwhile I was busy googling sheep births, (yay for smart phones) while the lovely man was in and out of the house reading up our books.
I didn't have a good feeling from early on and everything I was reading was saying the lambs should be coming shortly after the appearance of the water bags, and that if she needs assistance to do it sooner rather than later. Lambing last year was a completely straightforward event, only needing a small bit of bottle feeding for one lamb, so we had been expecting it to be plain sailing here. These are experienced ewes and were all great mothers last year.
When there was no sign of the lambs an hour after both bags burst we realised our shoulder length gloves would have to be deployed. Terrifying! So I found myself in a rainy stable at 2am, elbow deep in a sheep, trying to figure out what the hell was going on in there (and still in my PJs of course). My feeling was that there was no way her cervix was dilated enough to give birth. So we rang the vet, who told us to bring her in, as he might need to operate.
Of course we happened to take the trailer apart to sand and paint it that very day, so found ourselves running about with back boards and bolts and cable ties and sheep hurdles in the dark and the rain (and still in PJS) trying to get her to the vet. (The chiselers thankfully slept throughout it all - we were wandering about with two baby monitors in a plastic bag to protect them from the rain, leaving them hanging on a branch in the yard as the signal did not stretch as far as the stables. Completely ridiculous.)
We thought at this point the best case scenario was that we had lost at least one lamb, and were very worried about losing the sheep. It is a huge thing to be responsible for an animal, for their welfare - the whole process was very stressful.
Luckily enough it all ended well - the vet confirmed that her cervix just hadn't opened - apparently this is something that just happens - but he managed to deliver both lambs safely - the second one with some difficulty.
We got her home and settled and both lambs are feeding well and she is being a fabulous mother. The black one is female, we called her Aurora and the white is male - Borealis. (Which I think I spotted in a gap in the clouds that night.)
The whole thing was quite an ordeal and I felt very worried about our lack of experience throughout, but in hindsight, we did all the right things and made the right diagnosis and decisions, which is comforting. And next time if we need to assist with delivery at least I can find a cervix...though I can't imagine being able to find the legs and head of one lamb and not mix it up with the other lamb...
We finally got to sleep sometime after 5am, then got up again far too early and brought the wee man out to meet them. There was something beautiful about the rainy yard the next morning - after spending so much time in the dark with a head torch on, going through a stressful experience, head down, focused, worrying, it was lovely to walk through the yard in the morning, bursting with greenery, birds singing and the rams in their coats looking on, and to walk out to visit two tiny friendly lambs, alive and well.
Tinkerbell is next, and Csibi the goat's due date is 5th June. I'm hoping it all goes more smoothly!