Friday, October 8, 2010

Celebrating diversity

Yesterday morning, with mounting hopes, we watched Annaliese go through the pre-birth motions. She is half black-genes herself. Surely, surely her union with the dark and handsome Wilber would produce a coloured lamb? She refused to eat, went off by herself and scratched about. A water bag appeared. Broke. Then another. Twins. She lay down, got up again, turned around, lay down, grunted. We timed it all. Half an hour slowly passed. She was making such an effort with nothing showing. The second-to-last thing we want is to intervene, but the very last thing we want are dead lambs. Time continued passing, as it does. She was bleating and circling and looking for the unborn lamb.

Eventually there was nothing for it: SO grabbed the front end and I went to the back. The first thing I felt was a head and two front feet seemingly correctly presented. One foot was slightly rotated, not quite square with the other. I applied gentle traction and the lamb fought back indignantly, pulling it's feet away. Alive then. Perhaps just a little too big? Righto. On with it. I tried again in tandem with Annaliese's heaves but the lamb pulled away again. At this stage I suddenly remembered to ask for help and SO legged it back to the house for the ever-forgotten phone to call Dr Vet. His advice was to keep trying whilst he donned his superhero cape and responded. By sheer luck he was only 20 minutes away, but that can be such a long time when you need him.

In the meantime, why didn't the lamb want to come out? Perhaps it was deformed and couldn't. The rotated foot seemed odd. It suddenly hit me like a terrible tonne of bricks that perhaps it wasn't part of the same lamb! There had been two water bags after all. With that same tonne of bricks now in my stomach I engaged the standard practice of shoving everything deeper back in to gain room to manoeuvre . The lambs didn't like this. Neither did Annaliese and with an almighty contraction groaningly tried to break my hand off. She was also collapsing from fatigue so SO laid her down in the straw and I went to work bringing out the now correctly aligned lambie to lie next to her. The first thing I was able to say after breathing was "What are you doing Annaliese? This lamb wasn't meant to be white!" which was rather stupid as he was, at least, alive. I put that inane remark down to stress even though I was not giving birth myself. Annaliese made no comment. There wasn't really any time to ponder the complexities of ovine colour genetics however as another lamb lay waiting.

That one was black. Jet black. Not only alive, but female. I cried.

At this point Dr Vet rocked up. He'd left clients standing in his surgery waiting room and was anxious to get back since his rescue services weren't required here. SO said I just needed to learn to feel what colours the lambs were with my hand then I wouldn't make mistakes like that one. Dr Vet did a quick check of everyone and seeing they were ok, left. He didn't check me, as I'm human, but I required a cup of tea and a lie down.

Paula the-tiniest-lamb-ever, now two days old, seems to like the new playmates. She's the one in the middle above trying to coax the latest twins to dance about with her. The little black ewe seems pretty calm about everything considering the fuss we've unashamedly made of her.

The little ram lamb is just glad to be here at all.