Miracle and Angel

I called it when I said Duchess would be sneaky and lamb while I was worrying about Princess. I also called it when I said that when things go wrong with Duchess, it’s always something disastrous.

Duchess gave birth to very premature twins around 5 o’clock yesterday evening. The two together were about the size of one of last year’s lambs. They were huddled together in the straw when I found them, shivering and not making any effort to get up and nurse.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I knew as soon as I picked up the little white-headed ram that he was going to be my Snow Angel. He was tiny, badly underdeveloped, and seemed to have no muscle control. We kept him dry and warm, and tried to feed him a few drops of colostrum replacer at intervals, but he stayed limp and unresponsive. He wouldn’t suck, either wouldn’t or couldn’t move his legs, and only made a few brief attempts to raise his head before he died around 9 pm last night.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Rest in peace, little Snow Angel.

The ewe lamb didn’t look promising either at first, but she was larger than her twin and did kick a bit when picked up. After a while of being wrapped up and having colostrum (antibody-rich first milk a lamb has to have in their first 12-24 hours) fed to her through a syringe, she suddenly started thrashing and loudly crying that this new world she’d entered most certainly did not meet her expectations. That gave me hope, since a lamb that wants to live has a much better chance of doing so, even against long odds. I set her on the floor, and after a few false starts she staggered to her feet. Her hooves were still very soft, so I hadn’t expected her to be able to stand.

I gave her back to Duchess (the whole family had migrated to the basement) and while Duchess was happy to lick her, she wouldn’t let the baby nurse. I thought maybe her udder was engorged and painful, sometimes that can make a ewe reluctant to let a lamb nurse, but when I tried to milk her out I discovered she had no milk. Her udder was starting to develop, but her teats were small and empty.

The little ewe lamb was determined to nurse and kept chasing Duchess in circles around the pen crying, until Duchess decided that she didn’t want the lamb at all. Joy. Back to replacement colostrum.

Once she got the hang of it, Baby started trying to suck on everything she could reach. She tried to suck on the towel she was wrapped in. She sucked my fingers. She was particularly insistent that my chin ought to produce milk. She even tried to suck on the wall when she ran into it chasing Duchess. My favorite professor in college used to say that a lamb was healthy by saying “it’ll jump up and suck the fencepost.” I always thought that was hyperbole, but apparently it wasn’t.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“Why won’t you feed me??”

Just about the time that Duchess decided maybe she did want that lamb after all, Baby decided she was having much better luck with me than with Duchess, and responded to all further attempts to reunite them by running back to me and sucking on my jeans while crying.

Eventually all this staggering around crying and sucking on things wore her out, and she crawled into my lap for a nap.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“This is better!”

And aside from a few bathroom breaks and an hour or so with my mom while I took a nap myself, she’s been there ever since. She mostly sleeps, and occasionally wakes up and cries for milk. I’ve almost convinced her that yes, she does have to drink from the bottle because no, my chin does not produce milk. I’m not sure why she’s so fixated on my chin.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I’m sure it ought to have milk!!”

I’m worn out, half sick, I have lamb slobber all over my face and various types of lamb excrement all over my clothes, but I have a live little ewe lamb, and I’d say that makes her a Miracle. We’ll probably call her Mira for short.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Miracle and Angel

    • Thank you! She looks exactly like Duchess so far, right down to the white twink on the back of her head! And she is tiny, she’s only 2/3 the size Nova was at birth, and the boy was even smaller. Mom bought a couple of sweaters for our elderly little dog and they shrunk too small, so I set them aside for lamb sweaters. The sweater drowns her. 🙂
      I am sad about the ram. He was a handsome boy, and those spots on his head and face would have given him gorgeously striped horns when they grew in. But since it was obvious from the start he wasn’t going to make it, I’m glad he at least got to spend his few hours comfortable and warm and being held.

  1. Oh, love! Love, love, love, love! All of the poo-covered pants and slobber-covered chins in the world are as nothing compared to this wonderful little miracle. Praying Mira will continue to thrive and grow. Praying you can get some rest (can you hold a bottle while sleeping? Sleep sitting up?).

    Poor Duchess. She never did really look pregnant. Princess, on the other hand, looks like she will give birth to a lamb the size of Duke. Or a Hummer.

    • She’s an adorable little thing. 🙂
      I wasn’t totally convinced Duchess was pregnant, she was so much smaller than the other girls. I certainly wasn’t expecting her to twin!
      It is a shame, I was hoping Duchess could raise a daughter to be her friend the way Nova is Princess’s. They might still become friends though; I want to let Mira spend as much time with the flock as possible once the weather warms up and there are other lambs to play with. Assuming Princess does *not* have a single lamb the size of a Hummer. 😮

      • Dear Sarah,
        Seeing the first picture, I called to the boys, “Lambs, lambs, lambs! ” and they came running, knowing that I was talking about you all.

        Noah is quite upset about the little ram and won’t let me talk about him; we all are glad his short time was spent warm and loved.

        Little Mira, you have a good home with two mamas in it. Sarah, am imagining that with a bottle lamb you’ll be getting a little less sleep than normal, okay, maybe quite a bit less sleep, but you will have a loving companion for life.

        Christopher says, from what he knows about how Mira has acted so far, when she grows up she is going to be very strong.

        Hugs and congratulations to the addition to your flock,

        Natalie, Christopher, and Noah, and Muffin the kitty, planted right against Christopher

      • I’m sorry your son was upset, I debated whether to include the ram in the post, as I try to avoid posting sad things, but it didn’t feel right to pretend he never existed.

        Mira is a fighter. I’m already dreading the day she meets Princess. I’m not sure the pasture is big enough for two spoiled bottle lambs. 🙂

  2. My goodness, you really have your hands (and lap!) full . . . Congratulations on sweet little Mira. I’m so sorry about her brother. I love how you put it: “at least (he) got to spend his few hours comfortable and warm and being held.” That was so beautifully put. I hope things go smoothly from here on out. Best wishes to you and your new Miracle!

  3. Oh my… Congratulations on tiny Mira. I hope she grows strong and tall for both of her Moms 🙂 I am so sorry for your loss of little Snow Angel-just so tiny. Take care and I hope the rest of your season is totally calm….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s