Lambing Southdown Ewes

Every year there is one ewe, one story that kind of sums up lambing. This year, it was Proto who was expecting twins.

Her first lamb was huge and head first, requiring immediate intervention. Proto stayed down while I got the lamb’s legs correctly forward and helped her with the delivery of her stonking great son. I then had a little internal feel about to confirm the correct position of the second lamb. I noted it was a lot smaller than its sibling. On this basis, I made a mental note that I should not expect any problems with the arrival of second lamb and Proto and I got on with post-natal care of the first lamb.

Proto seemed delighted with her first son. She got up and was licking him dry while I prepared him a dose of colostrum. What I missed was clearly Proto had had enough of this whole birthing thing and wanted it over and done with (can’t we all relate to that?). As she stood there, she gave one almighty, massive pelvic PUSH and out popped the second lamb, literally like a cork out of a champagne bottle. Still encased in his unbroken amniotic sac, this little lamb went flying across the pen and sort of slithered around on the straw, with me in hot pursuit! It’s essential to get the sac away from the lamb’s face so it can start breathing otherwise they can suffocate very quickly. Proto seemed totally un-phased and, in fact, had a look on her face that said: now that feels better. I can report both lambs are well and bouncing in the field with the still un-phased mum. Because my sheep are pedigreed and registered, I need to keep close bloodline records. Hence all my sheep have names and their progeny have names starting with the same first letter as their mum’s. So, of course Proto’s little cork lamb has been named Prosecco!

On a micro level, the activity in my lambing barn and on a macro level, the dread Voldemort virus are proof positive that nature has her own way of dealing with things and we are all just part of the cosmos, minute specks in the universe and tiny bubbles in a glass of fizzy stuff.

Jessica Cross