Last year, around this time I went out to the field to find Geraldine my oldest ewe laying flat on her back with her legs in the air. She was about a month away from lambing. The weather had been really rough, with snow up to our knees so we had been feeding extra rations of corn and hay to all the beasts.
We managed to roll her into the wheelbarrow and she made an undignified trip to the shed where I had prepared a pen for her with a deep bed of straw. We managed to up-end the wheelbarrow and tip her out – she’s a big girl, about the size of a Shetland pony, and she lay splayed on the ground with her back legs sticking straight out behind her.
She couldn’t get to her feet and wriggled around on her belly. I offered her food and drink and she ate a bit.
The vet arrived and diagnosed twin lamb syndrome, gave her an injection and left me with medication to tip down her throat at regular intervals. I really thought we had lost her and the lambs as she couldn’t stand up for at least 2 weeks, but with care and me waiting on her hand and hoof, we eventually got her back on her feet and she gave birth to two healthy babies.
This year the weather isn’t nearly as bad but we’re not taking any chances, so at the weekend we bought some of the girls into the shed for a bit of pampering. They are not due to lamb for at least a month but a few days in the health spa should set them up ready to go. They have the finest in sheep cuisine served twice a day with an evening snack of hay, they will be checked all over and have their hooves trimmed and sprayed.
When this lot return to the field, we will bring the next batch inside for more of the same.
I should say that this in not the first time I’ve nursed Geraldine back from the brink. A couple of years ago she escaped from the field and fell into a drainage ditch, almost invisible from the top, we didn’t find her for about 24 hours. Then we had to heave her out with a rope and transport her to the shed on the loader of a tractor. We laid her on the straw and hung a heat lamp above to warm her up. She was off her feet for a couple of weeks that time as well.
Then there was the time she developed a huge abscess on her jaw……..