Late night drama

I’m back to work tomorrow. I’ve been off for over 2 weeks. I expected an early night and decent sleep. I didn’t get that.

I’m just back in from the sheep, fortunately everything is ok, a successful birth, although it was a wee bit sticky for a while.

Our football season starts on Friday, so I went down for our last training session. My father and I had been at the sheep around 6pm and all was clear. I got back home around 9pm and my dad was just heading in to check them. I went to bottle-feed some lambs and he shouted out to me, a short while later, “tha te leis a’ mhulad” – a sheep is in labour. All good.

We didn’t rush things, she had lambed before so we didn’t foresee too many difficulties. While I fed the lambs, my dad penned her but waited for me to come so I could catch her and check progress.

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This is where a couple of pens are handy in all the lambing fields. I couldn’t guess how many times we’ve used them to catch a sheep that is having difficulties.

Anyway, we caught her, put her on her side and I was greeted by this.

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What you see there is exactly what you’re supposed to see, the nose coming out and two legs below. Perfectly positioned for birthing. I actually said to my dad that it should be straightforward, not quite right….

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It was obviously a big lamb. Usually, you squeeze out one of the legs, then the other, and that leaves enough room for the head to slide out, and the body to follow. Every time I tried to pull, she called out in obvious pain. There appeared to be blood coming from her bum, which made me a little worried that a horn on the lamb had ruptures something inside. I didn’t want to risk it on my own, so I called a neighbour for back-up. My dad is a fisherman and no use at all when it comes to delivering lambs, apart from for holding the sheep – he’ll be the first to admit that!

A quick phonecall and 5 minutes later, Roddy “Norrie” was on the scene.

I held the sheep and he managed to get one leg out, then the other, and the whole lamb slid out quite easily then. I should point out that I knew the lamb was alive all along. Even though it was only it’s nose and mouth that were out, you could feel a pulse on it’s tongue and it tried to suckle on my finger a few times.

Out it popped and in front of mum it went.

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The sheep was obviously in discomfort after all that, so didn’t take to the lamb straight away. We put her on her feet after a few minutes and left them for a wee while. I’m going to bed but my dad will check them in half an hour or so. It’s a nice night here, flat calm, so there shouldn’t be any problem in leaving them out overnight. The sheep will get a shot of penicillin in the morning.

And here is the nice ewe lamb – a cross Cheviot.

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