Friday, February 25, 2011

New shepherding experience

Ms. Marj in the birthing room at Dr. Long's
I was supposed to be off from work today to work at the Guild Gallery.
but, since I'm now presenting at the NAI conference in Eureka Springs next week, I had to get interviews wrapped up at OFC. So I scheduled them to be done at 9:30, so I could get to the Gallery by 10:00. Luckily David Dahlsted said he could open for me.
At 11:00 I finally headed out of the office.
I ran home to check things before I went to the Gallery. Marj and Basil were very close to lambing and neither had felt well this morning.
I heard Marj hollering when I stepped out of the car. I check her and she seemed comfortable and pushing regularly.
I went to the Gallery, told David I may have to help an old ewe lamb and that I would be back in a hour.
I checked Marj when I got back. Her cervix was not dilated, but she was pushing. I offered her some molasses water, for energy and hydration which she didn't want.
I went in to have lunch and give her some space for her labor to progress. I made coffee. I drank and little and made myself eat some rice with cabbage.
I went back out. Marj was getting weaker.
I paced, I stressed. I called the local large animal vet. He was gone until tomorrow.
I called Dr. Long, the Mountain View small animal vet. Turns out he likes sheep! Just sheep, not goats.
He said if I brought her in, he'd work on her.
So, Lena and I carried large Marj to her PT Cruiser and loaded her up in the back. Lena had wanted the Cruiser because it would hold three sheep. It has, many times.
We got to the vet's office and they told us to wait a few minutes while they cleared out a room. We later found out it had been Dr. Long's office before it became the birthing room!
He checked Marj over in the car and agreed that her cervix was not dilated, but that she was ready to give birth. He palpated the lambs and said he heard heart beats. That was a relief. I had been worried we had lost them and that was why she wasn't dilating.
Four of us carried. led Marj into the room they had arranged with a nice soft mat and cover on the floor. Dr. Long hooked her up to an IV and spent time visiting with her.
He left for a while to let her relax. I just watched her. She had quit pushing.
I really didn't think. or move. I just watched. I counted her breaths and her occasional contraction.
I didn't call anybody or remember any of the important things I had to do today. This was life, right in front of me. And I hoped it wasn't the other side of the coin.
I realized, sitting there that I care far more for my sheep than I usually let myself know. Other people know that, I just don't usually admit it to myself. I consider myself pragmatic.

The vet checked her again and said she still wasn't dilating. He gave her a shot of oxytocin. She did seem stronger. He said her cervix had a lot of scar tissue.

Marj with George and newborn Grace
About half an hour later he came back and checked her. He gently massaged and coaxed the first stressed lamb forth. Curious George was walking almost as soon as he came out. He's a good sized boy, with beautiful markings. Dr. Long left mom and lamb for a while. I watched a bit and then helped George find the faucets. He was fine nursing on his recumbent mommy. She washed him and murmured.

About half-an-hour later Dr. Long pulled a beautiful little ewe lamb forth. She didn't really want to be here. She was little and very weak and breathing was more than she wanted to do. Doc worked on Marj while I rubbed and fluffed the little ewe. She finally started breathing and began holding her head up. Obviously, her brother had been getting most of the groceries.

Shawn and Lena brought a bottle of colostrum for the babies.

As the day wound down at the vet clinic, the children of the techs and vet came in the see the new lambs. We talked about the kids coming out to see some of the sheep at the farm. I invited them out to farm for shearing day on March 31st.

Grace the iSheep
About 5:30 we loaded Marj and the lambs back into the Cruiser. Shawn offered to let them stay in his shop for the night and we set them up with a sleeping back, some hay and a bucket of water. Shawn turned on the space heater.

Little Grace is still weak. She's currently curled up in the arm chair with Shawn. Marj and George are cuddled in the shop.

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