A Crazy Night. Something we have never run into before: a lamb with it’s head turned all the way back, front feet coming out, but not straight up. So not only was this ram sideways, but his head was preventing him from being born. Not realizing any of this around 11:30 when I saw her waterbag, my husband and I got our equipment together and went out to put HoneyBea in a larger pen inside the greenhouse so she could do her thing in peace without interference from all the curious onlookers. It’s so difficult to know when to intervene and we usually take as much of a wait-and-see-what-she-can-do-herself approach, but after an hour and a half, we realized that her labor was not progressing. That’s when I found the feet but no head. Couldn’t reach the head, but I felt a head way down low underneath these feet. Was the lamb folded in half somehow? Couldn’t imagine that, but nothing I did seemed to help inform my mental image of this puzzle. At that point my husband took over, and he couldn’t put all the various bodyparts together in a coherent way either, and poor HoneyBea was just not even having any contractions at that point. We began to think it was a breach, but we couldn’t find a tail. Oh boy, not good.
So at 2:20 a.m. we were realizing that we might lose this wonderful ewe as well as her baby or babies. No vet contacts for nighttime emergencies that we know of, either. We ended up calling our friend Pam of Hatchtown Farm (yes, at 2:20 in the morning!) and she got over here really quickly (she said she was already awake. She must have heard the frantic cosmic screams). She has magic hands, and can visualize things much better than we can, doesn’t panic, but even so, this baby’s head did not want to come around and stay around long enough for her to get him out. I don’t remember all that happened, but eventually out he came, not breathing. Big boy, 11.25 lbs, but I was ever so grateful that he was out, and not permanently stuck. Pam then located his twin, another beautiful black ram, 12 lbs 2 oz. He fared better and must have been out of the way of all the poking and prodding. He landed making noise, and is loving his new world so far.
I can’t even imagine that HoneyBea would bounce back from this kind of messing around with her insides, being a 7 year old ewe. But she is looking really quite well, considering her ordeal. She got vitamin B and a hefty dose of antibiotics, her placenta came out beautifully, and her baby is taking advantage of being an ‘only’ and bellying up to both sides of the milk bar. Here’s to hoping that she will continue to have the resources to mother this beautiful boy, and that she will be around with us for another couple of years (although we definitely have already inscribed her name in permanent marker on the Not To Be Bred Again list, for sure.)
Needless to say, my husband and I are both hoping that this is the only assisted birthing we need to have this year!