This ewe’s lambing took about half an hour.

If you have questions about parturition, you probably shouldn’t ask them of me–unless it’s about random, theoretical things like hormones, and I still might not be able to give a good answer. If it’s about the presentation of a ewe in Stage II labour, well, ask a real farmer! And if it’s about maternal instinct, ask your mom.  If your mom was anything like my mom, she’s brimming over with the stuff; she’s super at being a mom and can explain it better than I ever could.

It’s pretty obvious when a ewe is in Stage II. This is especially true if a bit of the lamb is showing, but I’m pretty sure it was not showing when I was getting ready to take this picture!

If all goes well inside the ewe, delivery is over awfully soon. The umbilicus tears and everything involutes (goes back to its normal shape/size) beautifully.

The ewe will often lamb her first lamb in the holding pen.  She’s surrounded by about forty other ewes who are very close to lambing themselves.  Think about this in, well, whatever context you want, but include adjectives like adoring, fascinating, curious, supportive, and ideas like desperate to nuzzle the lamb and suddenly protective of another ewe’s lamb.  You know what I mean–you’ve seen these same biological phenomena after the benediction was pronounced on Sunday.

Unfortunately, in the ovine world, new mothers can be quite stupid.  If you leave a new mother with her first lamb (of twins or triplets) in a holding pen, she’s mildly fascinated by it–until she begins delivering the second.  By the time she’s taken care of that and has the latest arrival all licked off, it’s quite possible that the first lamb is on the other side of the pen, surrounded by mesmerized ewes and getting their body smell all over her/him. If she/he doesn’t find his mother again soon, the ewe won’t accept that first lamb anymore.

A big reason farmers don’t want sheep to lamb in the wild is because foxes and badgers, the wily rascals, take advantage of these very same characteristics to steal the new lambs.

All that to say: the new lamb is taken to a lambing pen.  The ewe, who will follow her lamb to the end of the world, unsuspectingly ends up following you right into the pen.  The farmer usually doesn’t deliver subsequent lambs unless she/he senses a problem, but Matthew let me “pull” the second lamb then and there so we could go home sooner.

It’s in the right position to come out!

I wanted to stop school and be a Welsh sheep farmer.

Getting the mucus out of the airways isn’t exactly necessary, but it means the lamb will suckle a bit sooner.