Happy Mothers Day, Ladies! I would like to tell you about two mothers who I hope you’ll agree are pretty special.
The first is #901, the mother of our triplet lambs. #901 was one of my favorite ewes and sadly she left her triplets orphans. She was born in 2009 (hence the first number on her eartag), so this year she was 7 years old, and this was her 5th or 6th set of babies.
Her belly started getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Toward the end of her gestation, she started moving slowly, then limping, and the day after her due date, she went down and wouldn’t get up. I called our vet, Dr. Severin and explained. He said she had toxemia, and it didn’t look good either for her or the babies. He suggested a couple of home-remedies to try, or bring her into the clinic. We loaded her in the back of the Escape, and zipped to the vet.
Toxemia, he explained, is where the mother cannot ingest enough calories and energy to support her in utero lambs, so her body literally begins to use up itself in order to provide the needed nutrients for her babies. Doc gave her an injection to snap her out of the toxemia, and also Oxytocin, to induce labor. Nothing happened.
So, my choice was to lose both the lambs and the mother, or do a Cesarean and save the babies. He said I could try to save the mother, but the surgery cost would be three times that of just saving the babies, and there was a very high chance that she would not survive. We sadly, decided to save the babies and euthanize the mother.
The vet and his staff were delighted to find three healthy, full-term lambs, each weighing 7 pounds! I had on hand powdered colostrum, nipples, heatlamps and baby-lamb formula. They spent their first 5 days in our bathtub before we made a cozy little home for them in the jugs in the barn.
“The triplets” are now over a six weeks old, are vigorous and busy. They drink from a bucket with nipples on it, are eating hay and grain, and are gregarious and funny.
I have only to say that this mother, #901 did give her life so that her babies could live. I admire and miss her.
Our second Mother-of-the-Year is #1102. She, too was gigantic in her gestation. I trembled with fear lest she go into toxemia too. But, now I had knowledge of the condition, and with our vet’s direction, was able to administer propolene glycol during her last days of gestation, whenever I fooled myself into thinking she was limping.
One night, long after I had gone to bed, I heard a baby lamb baaaing south of our barn. “Huh,” I thought, “All of our babies are north of the barn. Could a coyote have carried one off?” I slipped back into sleep and again was awakened with baby-lamb-baaing. I staggered out there and viola! There was #1102 with a lovely set of twins out in the small pasture! I said to her, “Good girl! But what was the deal with your big belly – having only two babies in there?” She followed me as I carried the two little lambs into the jugs, set up their heatlamp, watered and fed her, and went back to bed.
A couple hours later, when I came out again, there were so many babies, I blinked my wondering eyes! There was not one, but TWO more babies! FOUR LAMBS! She looked at me and said, “Now you know why I was so gigantic! Apologies, please!”
“Gosh, I’m astonished!” said I. To add to my amazement were their birth weights – 10, 11, 11, and 12 pounds. – that’s 44 pounds of baby lambs she was carrying around. Good grief!
Now my concern was feeding all those extra lambs. A ewe has only two nipples. And, ewes often reject extra lambs. “Ah, well,” I thought, “I’m already bottle feeding three lambs, what’s a couple of extras?”
I fed each of the quads powdered colostrum from a bottle, just to be sure they each had enough. But they wanted nothing to do with me after that! Their mother said, “Hey, woman, I’m no slacker, I can take care of my own babies. So, just feed me well, and I’ll feed them, got it?” OK, good deal! So now, we’re power feeding her, and she’s power feeding her four lambs. Long suffering, as she constantly has a nursing lamb, but a protective, devoted, hard working mother none-the-less.
Never have I seen finer mothers than #901 and #1102.
Truly Mothers-of-the-Year. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!