The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Unscheduled Lambing

January 19th, 2016 · No Comments · Posted in farming


Five months ago one of our ewes broke into the orchard where we were keeping our two rams. Here’s the result: a bouncing baby boy.

Conceived in August when it was hot and sunny, he came into this world yesterday morning on one of the coldest days of the winter season. Arctic winds howled his arrival.

It was reminder enough why we try to schedule our births on the farm for April or May, when grass is growing and the weather is friendlier. As it was, we spent a good part of the day re-organizing our winter routine to include a baby and his mom. They were secure inside the pen in the walk-in shelter that I normally use for hay storage and milking parlor.

I brought the mother grain and water. I stacked hay bales around the perimeter of the pen to keep out drafts. Shortly after birth, the little guy was on his feet and nursing–always a good sign. But I couldn’t help worrying how a lamb just hours old would manage in the cold. First thing this morning, with the mercury reading just 5 degrees Fahrenheit, I drove out to the shelter with a flashlight to check the nursery. The lamb was awake and doing remarkably well. What a relief.

I’m always amazed by our livestock’s resiliency. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. A short while after this lamb was born, I returned to the shelter and found a twin on the ground, half in and half out of the gate into the pen and apparently lifeless.

I’m guessing the mother left him there because she couldn’t entirely get at him after his unfortunate birthing position. But wait: he was still breathing. I could feel his heart beating. I rubbed him down vigorously in an old towel. We brought him inside and lay him in front of the wood stove swaddled in towels. We thought he might recover, but he was limp as a rag doll and wouldn’t swallow the milk substitute we offered. He died in my arms a couple of hours later.

He was such a cute little guy, too. It’s always sad when an animal dies on the farm, but even sadder when a newborn doesn’t get a proper chance.


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