A Flock of Sheep Chapter Nine: Britt Has Two Lambs at Sunset

By now I thought Brennah would have had her lambs. I am pretty sure she is pregnant. She looks large and round about the belly and I don’t think it’s from all that holiday food. Britt also looked large but not so much as to make me think she would give birth soon. I thought maybe sometime in mid-April. But on Friday morning Britt did not come out of the shed for hay. She was standing in there being very still and quiet. There were no lambs but I knew she was ready. I kept checking on her every hour. At 4:45 PM when I brought the sheep their evening grain Britt had not yet given birth. She didn’t even look like she was in labor. Was she going to lamb at night? I hoped not. This is Britt’s first lambing and if there were problems I would rather have daylight than a flashlight.

I went back to the shed a little before 6 PM and heard some faint bleating. A lamb had been born, a ram. He was white with scattered brown spots, a brown collar around his neck, and long silky hair on his legs. I heard more bleating but thought it was one of Faith’s lambs complaining about not being fed. Everything looked fine so I left to get water with molasses and salt for Britt. When I came back there was still that faint bleating. Britt was backed up against the wall. Behind her was a lamb, still wet and shivering. I rushed back to the house, got some towels, and rushed back to the shed to dry of the lamb. It was a ewe and so small compared to her brother.

Britt seemed very confused about what to do. She kept walking in circles trying to dry off the ram, ignoring the ewe lamb. I let Britt lick my hand which now was covered with the amniotic fluid and the scent of the ewe lamb. Then she suddenly realized what she had to do and began to lick the new lamb dry. Still, I had little hope that the ewe would survive the night. She was shivering a lot. I rubbed here gently to get her drier and hoping that friction of the towel would help her to get warm again. She tried to nurse but Britt would walk away. Getting that warm colostrum was important. For one thing its warmth would help to stabilize her internal body temperature.

I took a lot of hay and bedding and piled it around Britt and her lambs and placed the bucket of warm water nearby. The ewe seemed to be feeding so I left for a little while. At about 9 PM I went back. All the sheep were in the shed which was good as that would make the air warmer. But I really felt the new lamb would be dead by morning. I did not sleep well, waking up almost hourly.

In the morning as the sun was coming up I went back to feed the sheep their breakfast of grass and alfalfa hay and give them fresh water. The new ram was active but his sister was lying down and looked tired and weak. I put my finger in her mouth. It felt very warm so I knew she was not suffering hypothermia. I picked her up and put her under Britt to get her to nurse but Britt turned around. After a few tries I put the lamb back and prepared myself for the worst. When I came back an hour later the ewe was up, she was nursing, her eyes looked bright, and she seemed strong. By evening she seemed to be doing very well, nursing, walking around. I went to bed feeling a little more hopeful.

It is now Easter Sunday and Britt’s lambs are doing very well. The ewe lamb is smaller than her brother (she takes after her mother who is slight) but looks good. She has a few small brown patches on her wool which is white but may have other colors in it. I’m not sure if the coloration is staining from blood and other fluids when she was born. In time I’ll know better.

Dixie’s lambs have grown a lot in the 12 days since they were born and are starting to eat small bits of hay. Faith’s lambs have begun to nibble at hay but are not eating any. They have been playing with Dixie’s lambs jumping, running, and shoving.

I’ve named the newest sets of twins. Faith’s lambs are named Finnguala (Celtic for “fair-shouldered”) and Fiach (after the legend of “Raven” who was transformed into a white swan for 900 years and because crows flew overhead the day he was born here). Britt’s lambs are named Eostre, in honor of the season and time of birth, and Cernunnos, a Celtic male deity of fecundity which seems to be appropriate now that I have six lambs.

So now it’s just Brennah and maybe Buttercup who are next to have lambs. The weather will be cool in the next week with a chance of some rain and snow but the shed is dry and not drafty. I opened up one of the grazing paddocks late yesterday afternoon so that as the snow melts from it the adult sheep and the lambs will move in there. This will help the lambs get used to green grass from an early age and give everyone some room and reduce the shoving matches. It will be nice when they can get into the bigger paddocks.

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