Lambing 2012 continues apace. The weather this year couldn’t have been better – warm, dry and sunny with not-too-cold nights. Much better than some lambingtide’s we’ve known where we’ve had to keep all the sheep inside (which drives them stir crazy) as the rain and biting easterly winds lash down outside.
Remember the lamb having the bad ear day? This is her (on the right) four days later. Her ears are not exactly straight but they’re losing that floppy look – which, let’s face it, was just so last year.
As usual, though, there has been drama. No lambing passes without at least one near-death experience. And this year it was our old friend ringwomb. For the non-shepherdess reader, ringwomb is a condition where the cervix opens a centimetre or two and then stops. The ewe continues to strain but the lamb’s not going anywhere. If not treated it can be fatal for both ewe and lambs. And it’s not always that easy to spot. Is the ewe in labour or not? Do I intervene to check or let her get on with it?
On Thursday evening Shelagh decided to intervene, found the ewe had ringwomb and started emergency treatment by administering calcium and a homeopathic muscle relaxant. And waiting. And then administering another dose an hour later. It was touch and go until midnight when, after a very difficult birth – and a lot of pulling – the ewe delivered two lambs.
Here’s the family group – mum, son and daughter – this morning. The boy’s the lighter coloured lamb.
Meanwhile, over in the main field, it’s lamb gang time. Every evening as the sun begins to set the lambs break away from their mothers and form a gang. They then tear around the field as fast as they can filled with the sheer joy of being young and alive. It’s compulsive viewing as they swarm over rocks and tear around buildings. Some of the younger ewes – the carefree and lambless ones – often join in as honorary lambs.
Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf .
An Unsafe Pair of Hands – a quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which will break first? The case, or DCI Shand?