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Thursday, June 25 2015

Other Half's retirement party was last night and a good time was had by all. The kids and grandkids came down to help kick off his new life as a full-time rancher. It was a lovely evening where we took a break from the packing, the getting livestock trailers ready, and constant checks on a pregnant ewe who has been ready to pop.

Other Half has been home all week and has been able to keep a pretty close eye on this first time mother-to-be. Her sister was heavily bagged up for three weeks before giving birth, so even though we have been watching Flower Pot closely, I still didn't expect babies for another week. Yes, her name is Flower Pot. As a lamb she got a flower pot stuck on her head and ran around the yard scaring the beejeebers out of the rest of the flock and herself, thus I dubbed her Flower Pot.

Last night I came home from the party and checked Flower Pot. No babies. Not signs of labor. I went to bed. I had fresh sheets on the bed and was enjoying luxury of sleeping at least one night on sheets without dog hair.  It's the little things, folks. It's the little things.

So I stole a night away from the farm by sleeping all night long. I didn't pad outside with a border collie at 2 am and 4 am to check on a pregnant ewe. I stayed in bed and enjoyed clean sheets and air conditioning, without trips into out into the humidity and mosquitos. For one night I relaxed. And it felt good.

This morning at 6 am I went outside to check the sheep. I was greeted by the pregnant ewe with her sister's piebald baby. This raised my eyebrow since even in the low light it looked to me like he was trying to nurse. Then I heard it - baby talk. She uttered the soft nicker a mother uses to call her baby. The baby tottered at her side. I flipped the light on and walked inside.

And that's when I saw her sister's piebald bouncing beside her sister. Hmmmm . . .

Further inspection revealed two piebald babies. Yep. She had given birth to a piebald baby boy who looked just like his cousin.

His front legs were still a little contracted making it a bit harder to manuever but otherwise he looked fine. Whew. Dodged that bullet. Then I saw it. Lying in the corner was the other baby - Baby #2.

Baby #2 was a perfectly marked white dorper with a black head - exactly what I wanted. Baby #2 was dead. Unfortunately the new mother had cleaned ever part except its face. The sack was still stuck on its nose. With a sigh I picked it up - a boy.

Well, I guess there was that. We hadn't lost a ewe lamb, but still, I feel the loss of every life around here. It was particularly annoying because it was so senseless. Had I not been lying in bed, enjoying the luxury of new, clean sheets, and an air conditioner that was finally able to catch up with the heat, this baby would still be alive.

It was a choice I made, and it was a choice I'll have to live with.  I don't beat myself up too much. You simply cannot live in the barn. You cannot watch them 24/7. Sometimes you just have to let nature work. On the other hand Natural Selection is cruel, and a life was lost over something as simple as wiping a face clean.

I really enjoyed that one carefree night of not checking livestock every few hours, but the reality is that if you raise livestock there are consequences to your choices. You save some, you lose some. In this case, because he was a ram lamb, I just lost the price of a wether. It wasn't as if he were a ewe and I would have lost not only the ewe lamb, but all the lambs she would give birth to over the years. That would be a significant loss. But life is particularly precious to me and his death could have been prevented if I had just gotten up a few times to check his mother during the night.

We have security cameras that will be set up inside and outside the barn at the new ranch house. That should help eliminate the problem of getting up and walking to the barn to check on sheep and goats at all odd hours of the night. I'm sorry for the loss of this little guy. Some things are just not meant to be. And maybe, like Jelly, he was such a perfect little baby that he was meant for the Master Shepherd anyway. So instead of beating myself up for lambs lost, I will celebrate the ones who arrive here safely.

Welcome, Little Dude.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:35 am   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
Seems important to note that, even if you had checked on Flower Pot every two,hours, you might still have missed the birth and therefore been unable to render assistance. Cameras in foaling stalls were very handy when we were still having babies--I had the monitor on my nightstand, and didn't even have to get out of bed to check on the mares!
Posted by EvenSong on 06/25/2015 - 09:06 AM
Very good point! Some things just aren't meant to be...
Posted by Forensicfarmgirl on 06/25/2015 - 10:16 AM
just an idea, but there are the online foaling cams that have a nu,beer of followers. I recall one that there was an emergency contact app/link if it looked like the mare was in trouble an d nobody was there. Might be something to look into..
Posted by Beth on 06/25/2015 - 01:47 PM
I had a mare go from no signs of labor to baby on the ground in 20 minutes while I got a movie going for the kids and a snack. You might have been at the right place at the right time, but there are no guarantees. In 2 hours, a lot can happen. I've only had baby goats 6 times over the years, and I still haven't managed to witness a birth yet that I wasn't pulling them out. Animals, especially prey animals, are sneaky
Posted by Patty on 06/25/2015 - 07:49 PM
That's true. My goats don't mind plopping them out with me there but the sheep are more private. I normally check to make sure if someone needs to be pulled we are there to help. If the delivery is normal I don't get involved.
Posted by Forensicfarmgirl on 06/25/2015 - 07:57 PM

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