Wednesday, March 19, 2014

After Work and Before Dinner

Having an off-farm job and taking care of lambing ewes can present time-management challenges.  Sometimes things are crazy; sometimes (like tonight) being a part-time shepherd seems to work out!

After work tonight, I needed to move the sheep, which means building fence and moving lambs (see my post about how much fun lambs can be!).  When I arrived at the paddock tonight, I discovered a couple of new lambs - and one ewe who had apparently been bitten by a rattlesnake today.  I spent about 90 minutes taking down and re-building electric fence - with the help of a neighbor.  As I was pulling away to run home for medicine for the snake-bit ewe, he walked up with a set of new twins who had been sleeping when we moved the sheep.  In other words, it was nearly 7 p.m. and I needed to run home, pick up a dose of dexamethazone for the ewe, come back and treat her, and make sure the lambs had found their mother.  Seemed like it was going to be a long night!

When I got back to the sheep at around 7:20, I quickly found the two sleepy lambs - nursing on their mother!  My first problem was solved.  I walked through the sheep and found the snake-bit ewe - caught her easily with my crook.  An injection of dex and another of antibiotic - second problem dealt with.  She got up and went off to graze - finding her twin lambs in the process.

When I'd entered the paddock, I'd noticed a maiden ewe (e.g., a first-time mother) in labor.  After finishing my other chores, I settled in to watch her.  She would lay down and push, and then get up and graze.  I saw that her lamb was presenting normally (I could see both front feet and a nose emerging), but she just wasn't making much progress.  Back to the truck - I retrieved Mo (one of our border collies) and my crook.  With Mo's help, I caught the ewe and gently laid her on her side.  The lamb was shoulder-locked, so I eased one leg forward and guided it's head out.  The rest of the lamb followed - and I laid it in front of its mother.  She finally called to her lamb and started cleaning it - and the lamb responded by shaking its head and clearing its air passages - third problem fixed!

Driving home, I realized I was feeling a deep sense of satisfaction - not everyone gets to save two lives (hopefully) between quitting time and dinner!

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