Lambing season is here!!! I've been anxiously waiting for the babies to come since March, which is when they usually come. This year they're late, which is better anyways, because March in Saskatchewan is absolutely frigid. A couple of years ago, I remember staying up all night in a giant snowsuit stuffing babies inside my suit to share my body heat. This year will be a breeze.
Just yesterday, six lambs were born, and two more arrived this morning. But the day is not over!!! We have 70 moms expecting, and lambs are capable of having triplets. But the standard is usually one or two. After the lambs are born, we put them alone in a pen with their mothers, so they can bond with each other. And do they ever!!! Never get between a protective mama and her baby!!! Last year I was thrown into the side if the pen a few times by an angry ewe who thought I was stealing her baby!!
My parents are seasoned farmers, so they don't even bat an eyelash when the babies start pouring in. But I still think it's magical. Except for the part where the ewe starts to eat the placenta!!!!The first time I saw a sheep chowing down on her own afterbirth... I screamed " Dad this sheep has rabies!!!!" He rolled his eyes and calmly explained to me that this is actually quite common among animals who have just given birth. The placenta is rich in iron and other nutrients, just what a new mother needs. I'll give you a minute to puke or faint, whatever your preference is.
Another gruesome side of sheep rearing is when the baby is breech. See, lambs are all legs, and these lanky extremities sometimes get stuck in the birth canal. A difficult birth is known as"dystocia". This is an emergency situation in which the farmer has to step in. The farmer slips on a sleeve which is a thin glove that goes almost up to the shoulder, this prevents you from transferring bacteria into the mother sheep ( also provides a barrier between your hand and sheep insides...... ugh) The farmer must slip his hand and arm into the birth canal, readjusting the baby, while simultaneously pulling the baby out with the other hand. It sounds slippery and easy, but trust me, it takes every ounce of strength to pop that sucker out!!! They do not come easy. But when the baby finally slips out into your hands, and your sweating and panting and exhausted ( not to mention the mother!!) suddenly the whole atrocious process doesn't seem quite so disgusting. It seems like the most natural thing in the world.