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!
If you've read my blog previously, you probably know that we try to use nonlethal livestock protection tools in our sheep operation. You...
Ranchers, myself included, are conservative by nature. I don't mean politically (although this is also true in many cases). Many of...
My sheep shearer, Derrick Adamache, tells a story about the value of wool 100 years ago. Relatively speaking, wool was worth much more in ...