Last Monday, almost two weeks after the arrival of the first lambs of the season, I was doing chores when I noticed that Dinah, a three-year old, was in labor. I kept my eye on her as I went about afternoon chores and, after a bit, she gave birth to a handsome ram lamb. The weather was fine and there was no reason to bring the pair in. When I posted about this welcome arrival I did not mention that several hours later Joanna and I discovered that Dinah had also lambed a little girl. In words used by Miracle Max, played by actor Billy Crystal in the movie The Princess Bride, this little lamb was mostly dead. For whatever reason Dinah had only partially cleaned her off at birth and the little one lay ignored, flat, and with only faint and very shallow respirations. Joanna picked her up and determined that the newborn had a suck reflex so we got Dinah and her family to the barn. Without the nourishment of a bit of milk there would be no chance the little one would be with us very long at all. Because she had no muscle tone and could not stand to nurse she would need to be tube fed – immediately. We tried getting milk out of Dinah but brother had been busy and her udder was empty. It was dark and our local mill, the only source for milk replacer, had closed hours ago. I crossed my fingers and hoped that I had saved the remainder of a bag of replacer that we had not quite finished last year. I turned on the light in the haymow – and there it was! The lamb was still alive when I got back to the barn with three ounces of warm replacer. Joanna handed the lamb to me and I handed Joanna a very large syringe of milk. Into the lamb’s mouth went the catheter and she chewed it vigorously as if she knew something good would be forthcoming. Down, down, down it went until she gave a bit of a kick to tell me that we had hit bottom. I backed it off a bit, attached the tip of the syringe and told Joanna to let ‘er rip … and the milk flowed into the empty stomach in a flash. We removed the tube, set the lamb on her brisket next to her brother, and left the barn. We went to have dinner with only a little hope that the lamb would be with us when we returned. Somewhat to our surprise however she was very much alive when we returned and even seemed brighter in the eye. Rather than tubing her again we offered her a bottle – and she took it. With a full tummy we put her back beside her brother for the night. From the very start of this adventure we guessed that as a result of oxygen deprivation during a prolonged birth little #1384 had neuromuscular and perhaps even cognitive issues. From that very shaky start however #1384 improved each day. When we left her on Friday in the capable hands of Tony and Keshia, our farm sitters, she was still on the bottle and not able to nurse. When we returned to the farm yesterday we found the little one running about with her brother and fully on her Mom. We couldn’t believe it. What spirit. Any suggestions for a name?


9 thoughts on “#1384

  1. Hurrah! I am thrilled that Dinah didn’t have any issues taking her back, that she’s strong and fighting – what a will! Beautiful story, you all seem so calm about these things 🙂

    • So glad you’ve been sending what Joanna and I call ‘psychic vibes.’ I’m sure the energies helped in pulling her through a really tough time. If the weather is fine this little one and her brother will go out to pasture with Mom. Persephone is a great name – we’ll throw it into the hat! Thanks for giving it some thought. D

  2. Ha ha! This is a great story! 🙂 She kind of reminded me of Pippi Longstocking! Not sure why exactly. Maybe because she was very determined to live (with no real parents to help her out) and seems to be quite independent! I think your animal portraits are FABULOUS! 🙂 Can’t believe all the new lambs you have now! The barn must be getting pretty crowded!

    • Yes. With all the bad weather we’ve been bringing the newborns and their mothers into the barn to keep warm and dry. Extra work … watering and feeding. If the weather is fine tomorrow several will go out to pasture. Four more ewes to go … assuming none of last year’s lambs met up with the ram during breeding season. Now … if I could only find out how to make a living taking pet portraits! D

  3. The song “I Will Survive” was sung by Gloria Gaynor. Gloria would be an appropriate name, don’t you think?

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