Buster Hollow Times
One spring in early April around about midnight, I decided to make one final trip to the barn to check on my very pregnant ewes before going to bed. As I entered the barn I discovered one of my ewes had just given birth to a little white ram lamb and she is aggressively licking him dry and talking to him……murmuring, as I like to describe it……urging him to keep moving. Something I have learned about this ewe is that as a mother she approaches her newborn lambs with the resolve of a drill sergeant. No lamb of hers is going to be allowed to be cold, lethargic, and slip into an endless sleep.
As I continue to watch her with her new born lamb, I do not interfere as she relentlessly paws at the ground around her baby and murmurs to him to get up. When that doesn’t arouse him she paws at his back jostling him awake. Then forcefully knocking him over on to his side, she pushes him again to get up on his feet and continues to aggressively dry him off. She has no time to notice when I talk to her. A few moments later she pauses her obsessive cleaning and drying only long enough to give birth to a second white ram lamb. Now she has two babies on which to focus, so she becomes even more aggressive with them knowing that as she turns her back on one to clean the other, the first one will want to lie down and rest. After all, trying out your new legs for the first time is exhausting work when you are a newborn lamb.
But there is no rest for weary baby lambs if this particular ewe is your mama. After about 45 minutes of cleaning and drying she has successfully got them both dried off and nursing for the first time. But true to form this drill sergeant mama continues to clean them and wake them many times over the next hour and a half to ensure that they nurse repeatedly, receiving life sustaining colostrum.
The only time she needed any help from me was when one of her lambs slipped under the gap between the gate and the floor. She suddenly jerked her head up and looked around for me then gave me that look that said “Get him back in here for me!” I did and then plugged the gap with extra straw so that it wouldn’t happen again. I knew they were in good hands (hooves), so it was back to bed for me.