Thursday, May 11, 2017

Day 5: Triplets and the Hulk

I am going to start this post with a candid of who I share my room with. He sleeps on the bed during the day, and I sleep on it at night. It is a good set-up with the occasional cat hair on the pillow and as long as I don't keep my window open for him to climb into. 
We arrived in the morning to see a new row of lambing jugs up. Apparently about 30 minutes after we left last night many sheep decided it was time to lamb out. One of them being a leader sheep. They are there own kind of Icelandic sheep, I am not sure if you would call it a sub-breed or even another breed. Leader sheep were bred to lead the rest of the flock. They are thin, tall and very smart. They are supposed to help lead the flock back down the mountains and to their respective farm in the fall. Gruna (in my past post) is also a leader sheep. As you can see the lambs are born just like mom, very lanky and inquisitive. You can see the lambs peering over the feeder to check out what is on the other side.
We got right to morning feeding including feeding our orphans, Annie and Steve. Steve has decided that he loves nursing. We were forced to tube feed many times over the last few days because he was not interested in the bottle. Now he loves to suckle, including suckling ears, noses, chins, coveralls, anything that gets in his way. We had a steady stream of lambings today. All of them seemed to be challenging. I had the most difficult lambing I have ever encountered. The ewe was expecting triplets. She was struggling for some time so I went in the check things out. Her lambs were a huge tangle. I found the lamb that had the broken sac, he was completely sideways and moved into the birth canal spiraling. His head was stuck and when I pulled the head forward, the legs would go back. I used the wire to secure the head while holding the legs with my second hand. I got him out! He was lively and up in a few minutes. Mom passed the second sac but the lamb closest to the birth canal still had an intact sac. The lamb I was looking for was in the farthest reaches of the uterus. I could not move the large second lamb, so I removed him in the hopes that the third could hold on for a few more seconds. He wanted to make the same spiral formation while sideways like his brother coming out and I struggled to keep him straight. Once he was out I had to go back in to get their sister who may or may not have not been able to breathe. Her head did not want to cooperate and would tip back so her chin would go up. Guiding with my hand above her head and my second hand pulling her legs, I was able to get her out after what seemed like a lifetime. All were lively and up to nurse soon after!! 
I don't know who was the most relieved getting all 3 of those lambs out me or the mom. Pictured is me with the second ram out and a happy mom. Also, today we lost our first lamb during birth. The first lamb was difficult, so Dana gave mom some time to clean the first one and took a walk around the barn. Not but 5 minutes later the second came out fully encased. Jess got there first to remove the thick sac but the little lamb struggled to take his first breath. Snædis and Helgi tried their hardest to remove the fluid from his airways but it did not revive him. Working at such a large farm with many different ewes that could have any type of problem lambing I tried to prepare myself for complications and for those situations we can not control but when they happen there is always emotions. I know that time will come when I am in a tough situation with a ewe and her lambs and I will not be able to save all of them, but that is a hurdle for another day. 
More interesting cases include a ewe that was expecting twins. It was a normal birth for the first lamb, so I left her to go and finish putting out hay. I had asked Dana to keep an eye on her in case she started to lamb out her second. After a little while, Dana commented that she had not seen her push so she went in to check things out. She found the second lamb but while she felt over its head she was startled, the lamb had no eyes, it only had eye sockets. She pulled her hand out to see it was covered in rusty colored goop which usually indicates a dead lamb. Snædis got the lamb out with the sac mostly intact to keep the rotten fluids in one place. She guessed the lamb died ~3 weeks ago and never developed but instead started to decompose. By the end of the day, there was not much going on so we got ready to call it a night. I stuck behind to help do some last minute transferring of older lambs out of lambing jugs to the adjacent barn to prepare the night crew. Jess and Dana missed one of the craziest lambings. The mother was expecting a single and boy did that lamb take advantage of the space. She lambed out a ram lamb that weighed in at 5.7 kg (12.54 lbs)!! Snædis pulled on this lamb and got the head out, but its body also got stuck because it was so large. It took A LOT of effort to get the big guy out. He was a bit dazed by the experience and I think mom was as well. I will post an update on him tomorrow. 
Until then, goodnight!

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