Ok, so we’re into week two of lambing here at Horse Drawn Farms. The bags under my eyes are as large as saucers.  The footstool that allows me to peek over the wall is now a fixture in front of the sheep barn.  And I have seven lambs.  Yes, one and two were easy.  As were three and four.  And really, I didn’t have to do anything about five either, except wonder how only one lamb could come from such an impossibly huge ewe.  But six and seven–arrival time nine a.m. this morning– are killing me.

It could be the lack of sleep making me paranoid, but after 452  sheep barn checks, I could have sworn that neither of these two large, fine looking lambs were getting anything to drink.  Emily, their mother, is my smartest ewe.  The thinker.  The one who leads everyone away from frightening predators, such as Pete, poised for candid sheep photos with his tripod.  She’s friendly too.  At least, she was.  Until I decided to interfere and make absolutely sure her lambs were getting colostrum.  I’d tried waiting.  I’d tried spying.  I’d pretty much tried everything to find out if her lambs were suckling, including lying nonchalantly on my belly outside her lambing pen, shining my headlight on her teats through the wooden slats.  But the minute I was anywhere near her, her large dark body moved between her lambs and me.  Oh, I saw them go under her, into the right place.  But after biffing her in the udder with their heads a few times, they always came back out again, no tails waggling, no time spent.  It was hour four: time for action.

I don't know. I just don't know.

Thus commenced the Amateur Lamb Feeding Marathon, an arduous method  for lamb stomach-filling.  First there is Lamb Placement.  This is when the helpful amateur farmer places the lamb in the correct position for feeding.  And then the lamb walks away.  Or the ewe walks away.  And then the farmer places the lamb back in the correct position for feeding. And the lamb walks away.  Lamb placement is repeated for at least an hour.   Following this, is Lamb Assisting.  Here the helpful farmer prevents (with difficulty) the ewe from walking away and lifts a teat towards the lamb’s mouth.  And the lamb walks away. Or the ewe tries her best to walk away, lifting a foot and struggling mightily.  Lamb Assisting has given me a sore toe (being stepped on) and a wet heel (being suckled on by confused lamb.)  The final step is Lamb Splattering.    An exceeding difficult chore for those farmers with only two hands, in which a ewe must be restrained and her colostrum milked into a waiting pan, amidst kicks, struggles, curses and worried bleats from ovine onlookers.  The precious yellow liquid is then poured into an appropriately clean vessel and carefully fed to the lamb, which doesn’t act in the least interested or grateful, and, in fact,  makes it clear that it does not appreciate colostrum dripping from its chin by throwing its head from left to right, sending colostrum over its back, down its leg and into my ear.

  But I, at least, can sleep for an hour.

Did I do any good?  Did I need to interfere?  Until the morning, I just can’t say.

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