Last night we brought Shirley into a lambing stall after dinner to give her a quiet place to labor. Our assumption was that she was in very early labor, and we planned to check her through the night.
Shirley is grey, and she’s bred to Drover, who is white. We did a little review of Icelandic color genetics to try to guess what color her lambs would be. Drover’s white pattern is dominant to Shirley’s grey, so we assumed a white lamb…or two!
I checked her at 9pm. She was needy and kept coming over to me for chin scratching. She just didn’t look that distracted by pain (compared to Fatima last night!), though, so at that stage we thought that the earliest she would lamb would be in the wee hours of the morning.
At about 9:30 I went up to bed – Roy was going to do the 10pm check and follow me to bed so that we could get rested up for what was to come. She’s a maiden ewe, and we assumed she might need some help.
I started to drift off to sleep thinking, “What if Roy comes to wake me up vs. me waking him up in the early morning?!” (since I do the checks throughout the night.) “Nah – ha! THAT would never happen!”
I must have just fallen asleep, when I woke a little after 10 with Roy standing in front of me, saying, “It’s white!” with a big grin on his face! I pulled myself out of early REM sleep…”What?!” “It’s white!”
It quickly came to me what he was saying, but I was in disbelief! I had only just checked her at 9! Compared to Fatima, who took nearly 12 hours to have her lambs after finding her restless like Shirley was, to even have her in active labor at 10 seemed amazing, let alone that she had a lamb unassisted!
I dressed quickly, and we ran down – Roy hadn’t even checked the sex yet, as he wanted to come get me first! On the way down I said, “Are you sure it’s not Fatima’s lamb that somehow got through the fence?” Roy was pretty convinced that his fencing was impenetrable, but when I saw the white lamb it looked identical to Lisa – but Shirley was licking away at it, lying on her side.
To our astonishment, as we approached the stall, Shirley stood up, dropping ANOTHER white lamb behind her!
She walked away, focusing on the first lamb. We grabbed towels and got the second lamb going and passed it to her. She did so well accepting them both!
Twin ewes! This makes our count even, and we’re over half way through lambing!
It was such a blessing that Shirley did this without any help from us, and we were able to get a better night’s sleep knowing that this event had passed uneventfully! She had those lambs so quickly – it helped that they were both ewes. Ram lambs have bigger foreheads with horn bumps that impede delivery, especially in maiden ewes. These lambs seemed to be birthed effortlessly!
Now we have to move Daisy and her lambs out to pasture today. We tried this yesterday, and Roxanne, whom we also moved to pasture, was not impressed with Daisy and her lambs and tried to hurt Daisy’s lambs. We had to quickly bring Daisy back to the post partum ward, hoping she’d bond more with her lambs between then and today (she was very distracted by the pasture grass!)
We’ll try again today – we really need to make room for Millie and Molly. They are really getting close – possibly today or tonight. Though they are pros, and could easily lamb on the pasture, but it’s much better to have them in a controlled environment where we can assist them or their lambs if necessary.
On top of all of the shepherding, we have 50 pounds of Kennebec potatoes and a big garden to deal with today! We have sprouts coming up – onions, lettuce, spinach, beets, etc. -and the deer fencing needs reinforced and moved. We’re expanding this year and need to plow. The potatoes need to be cut and calloused for planting in a couple of days.
Life is good!