Friday, May 12, 2017

Day 6: Yearling Storm, Booze and Cake

The calm before the storm is official over. Our lambing storm started with the yearlings. The morning was still calm and we had a steady stream of lambings, enough for us to monitor and continue to do other work around the barn. I was even left with a few that were lambing so the rest of the group could go and eat lunch. We even got lots of time to socialize with our orphans Steve and Annie. Even though they got an upgrade Steve has come really close to jumping out of their enclosure. He hears Dana's high pitch squeal "Steeeeeeveee!!" and he starts jumping.
 (Steve is the bottom left and Annie the top right)

The oldest lambs and their moms have had an upgrade. They now have an enclosure that goes outside. Lukka spent some time watching over the flock. Some of the ewes were not liking the dog lying in their hay. 

(Lukka looking over the flock)

(Outside enclosure right outside the barn)
With the lambs outside we asked about possible predators. In Iceland, they do not have large predators but they have Artic foxes and ravens. The ravens seek out the lambs to pluck from the flock which makes them a threat. Helgi put out some frozen meat to keep the ravens preoccupied away from the lambs. A little after lunch was when the yearling storm began. Many of the yearlings are expecting singles and some expecting twins. After seeing the Hulk (12.5lb lamb) being born, I was nervous. I went through a few normal lambings, then I got my first yearling. The horn buds were sufficiently stuck on the pelvis and it took a lot of pulling to get the little guy out. He came out, took one breath, then stopped breathing. After some chest compressions and a few puffs of air in the lungs, he was breathing again. [Aside: After-birth fluids are horrible, especially when they get in your mouth but having a living lamb is worth it.] 
(Prized yearling and She-Hulk)
 Once finished I took a deep breath and moved on to the next ewe in labor. She was also expected to have a single, this yearling being one of the farms most prized yearling (this being told to me after the lambing) and she lambed out what I could only call She-Hulk, she was huge! I then immediately moved on to the next ewe, who was supposed to be having twins. Surprise, she had a single and what was supposed to be the twin but was an oversized placenta. The amount of strength but also a gentleness with lambing is amazing. With some of the larger lambs, it took so much force to get them through the birth canal, but then they are newborns and are so sensitive to their new world. The juxtaposition between the two is interesting to think about. With that said, the feeling you get when you struggle together with the ewe and you finally get the lamb out and it takes a big first breath is like no other feeling. As we got later in the day, the emotional toll of the difficult lambings started to get to Jess, Dana, and I. The second to last lambing we dealt with was another yearling. She was completely out of control scaling the walls of the lambing jug unfamiliar with what was happening. The only way she would sit still was when Jess was with her (Jess is the yearling queen). Once she started into active labor, Jess went to check on the lamb and its position. She noted that it was large so I went to assist her. Not only was the lamb large but it had horn buds. We called Dana over to also assist because the two of us were not enough to pull the lamb out. As I tried to stretch mom, I could see the lamb's tongue swelling and turning a deep purple. This is a great indicator that the lamb is not getting air and needs to get out immediately. We all used every ounce of strength and it finally came out. He struggled to breathe because he inhaled some fluid and his tongue was very swollen, so Jess and Dana took him out of the jug to help him. They noticed something was not right. The lamb had an umbilical hernia and part of his intestines was outside the body. Given that a professional is required to fix a hernia, he was struggling to breathe and the lamb is not worth the cost of a veterinarian to be called out, he was to be euthanized. At that point in the evening, we agreed that we needed chocolate cake and a stiff drink to soothe the amount of blood, pain, and yearlings we had seen and dealt with. We headed back to the house to end the day with a big piece of chocolate cake, a beer, and compare bruises. It was a nice break to prepare ourselves for the rest of the storm tomorrow. Until then, goodnight!

(The ewe that was expected to have twins and instead had a huge single)

 (Photographic evidence of the 12.5lb lamb. He is not yet 24 hours old in the pictures below.)

1 comment:

  1. You are all doing amazing!!!! Some days are a piece of cake, other days are pure torture. It's hard knowing there is nothing more you can do. So proud of you ladies!!! KEEP IT UP!!