Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Toy lambs

Pamela got involved in the trend to have twins, fashionable as it is here just now, in time for elevenses today. Of course, she couldn't wait for SO to finish his post-night-shift sleep, or for me to finish changing the bedding in the lamb shed, she just had to pop them out right then. Pamela herself is one of twins, but she was born happily in the normal way. Perhaps they're a bit early, perhaps she's had some unknown stress or some kind of deficiency that we were unaware of, but her new ewe and ram are very, very tiny.

The ewe lamb in particular did not like her new world one jot and curled up shivering on the spot she was born. She was very weak and stayed there, unable or unwilling to move for a half an hour or so whilst her brother learned to walk and lured poor, inexperienced Pamela further and further away. She bleated at her little ewe, but with no response forthcoming to encourage her, spent all her energy on her boy. In the wild, or out on the hills, little ewe would be left behind, too small to be viable. Fox fodder. Dead by nightfall. Left to themselves, we would see Pamela plus son the next day and never know baby girl had existed. In the wild it probably doesn't matter. Small, weak lambs would hinder the ewes. However, having seen her born, struggle out of the membrane and take her first breath I couldn't just leave her to die. This is exactly why we keep our ewes close by and tucked up warm at night - to intervene, unnatural as it is. Although we keep it to a minimum sometimes it's necessary. I moved both lambs together and out into the warm sun.
Little ewe was still stretched out prone but warming up by the minute and Pamela now able to reach both her offspring easily was rousing her to lifting her head to at least look around. If she decided she didn't want to stay, well, that was up to her, but I wouldn't let her be left behind. She did want to stay. She took a long, long time, but she stood up. Her and her brother had some colostrum and a long sleep in the sun. Would that we could all just have a large draught and sleep in the sun when we're feeling weak.
By the evening she was walking about, albeit feebly, but still alive and shouting about it. With a tiny, high pitched bleat to match her physique. When it was time for bed there was no fuss, she just lay on her brother for warmth. In our world compliant animals are a worry, rare as they are it usually means something is wrong but having had several drinks by now she was content and we were hopeful of her survival.
In the late afternoon another one of our lovely neighbours called in to see the lambs. This nice lady stops on the nearby road each day, checks their progress and says hello to them. She has rescued many orphan lambs herself from trucks and abattoirs, collected from vets and found abandoned in paddocks. She was delighted to see our new tiny lamb - just like a toy - the smallest lamb I have ever seen. Smaller than the last smallest lamb I have ever seen anyway and able to fit comfortably in one of SO's hands. She has brown spots on her ears. The kind neighbour's name fitted perfectly with Pamela's family initial so naturally we called tiny ewe lamb Paula.