Saturday was quite a busy day for us here. Scott and I worked with Heldig (I think I spelled it correctly) to rip up old floor boards in the "Old Barn" and "Oldest Barn" to prepare for an experiment that a student at the University here is doing for her thesis. She is focusing on the growth of motherless lambs. There will be two lambs that are fed milk as often as they want for five weeks, and another two that will be given as much milk as they want for seven weeks. One thing that is really cool about this experiment is that they will be using a milk warmer, which is like a small box that holds the milk and keeps it warm to imitate suckling from the ewe, which will encourage them to drink more. I believe this could help with many different situations, such as a ewe that has twins or triplets but can't take care of them all, or the ewe doesn't make it through the birth or passes away after and can't feed the lamb. It would save time for the farmer/employee and I believe it would increase the amount the lamb eats since it isn't sitting out until the next feeding getting cold!
Early in the morning, Snaedis noticed that one of the ewes had a large abscess on her leg and needed to lance it, so I volunteered to help! It wasn't filled with puss so much as it was filled with blood, but we were able to relieve some of the tension and put some spray on it to help it heal and hopefully continue draining naturally.
Later in the day after the uneaten/unwanted hay was collected from the feeders (sheep are pretty particular about their hay), Scott and I did one last surveillance walk around the barn. I had previously checked a few pens, but decided I should go back and check again, and I am sure glad I did! As I began walking away I noticed a little head sticking out the back of the ewe, which completely caught me off guard. I yelled to Scott to assist me, and I jumped into the pen to grab the ewe. I could see that there was only the head sticking out and no hooves. Awesome. In most cases you would try to get the head back in, but at this point the lambs head was dry and it was trying to take its first breath, which meant that if we didn't get it out in the next 60 seconds or so, it would die. I was able to get my hand into the birth canal and grab the front left leg, but the right leg was still stuck behind the pelvis. No matter what I did, there was no getting the lamb out. I even got my hand stuck between the baby and the pelvis during a contraction and my hand is all bruised from it! I tried not to panic, but time was ticking. My heart was racing. I had to pull. I told Scott my plan and he agreed. Just get it out, and fast! I grabbed the left front leg and as close to the shoulders as I could so that I wouldn't injure the neck, and with all my strength pulled straight down. With that pull and one more just like it, the lamb was out! I instantly pulled whatever membranes I could off of her face (yes, it was a girl, and the only girl of the day), as well as cleared her mouth and began vigorously rubber her side to get some life into her. After a few seconds of stimulation, she took a giant gasp of air and shook her head. SHE MADE IT!!! Her head was a bit swollen as well as her tongue, but the color in her tongue and gums immediately began to turn pink and her pulse increased. Before I knew it, I heard her first little bleat. I am thrilled to report that her and Momma are doing very well. After a little while of being in the lambing jug I noticed that her head was hanging really low, so I asked Snaedis why this was happening. She said that there was still some swelling from the birth that made her head extra heavy and that she was merely having a hard time holding it up. So, with that knowledge, I hopped into the jug and held her head while she eagerly suckled. The lamb on the top is the girl I pulled! The one on the bottom is the "adopted Lamb", but the ewe rejected her. Instead, we gave this little lamb to another ewe (an older girl who took him right in) and gave this Momma a fresh little boy who was part of a set of triplets!
To be perfectly honest, I thought that the lamb I pulled was a goner. I had no clue how long she had been sticking out, but I knew it must have been some time because her head was almost completely dry. Not sure how she lived, but she is fighter.
For dinner we had...brace yourselves....foal meat! Here in Iceland they raise horses much like we do in the United States. There isn't really a big interest in beef cattle here since there is so much rocky terrain and the are just more difficult to keep (I will have to get more details on this from Snaedis). I was really nervous to try foal, mainly due to the stigma the United States has against it. Granted, in the US and Canada it's concerning the production of horse meat from retired race horses that have been injected with god knows what, but these Icelandic horses are bred for meat production only, similar to sheep and cows. I decided to open my horizons a little, and believe it or not, it was super delicious. It felt so wrong, but man, it also felt so right. It was very tender, almost like Filet Mignon. It really tasted like beef! Snaedis said that there are some places that just sell the foal meat and advertise it as beef! That is how similar it is!
Here is the "adopted lamb" ram. He was very small and very sleepy when I took this picture. I held him after the ewe rejected him by head butting him quite hard. He seemed to enjoy the physical closeness.
Day 3: We had a very calm day today. A set of healthy triplets born and a couple sets of twins. Scott and I did a lot of surveillance as well as sweeping of the pens and isles. I have attached a video here of Scott doing some feeding, but be careful, you may want to turn the volume down a bit (or a lot). The sheep are VERY loud, considering there is nearly 500 of them in this barn! As you can see, Scott is wearing a pair of radio headphones to help protect his ears. He was listening to some fun Icelandic music!!