20 March 2009

Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro!

Luna and Triplets

One of the best things about growing up on a farm was inviting my friends over for camp outs during summer break. We set up a campsite in our backyard and sat out late around the campfire. Some nights we told spooky stories and went to bed shivering, but it was all in good fun. Until the night we woke up to moaning out in the pasture. It could have been the bogeyman come to get us, or a pack of maniacs escaped from the nut house--but it wasn't anything that gruesome--just a heifer having some troubles giving birth to her calf.

Peanut & Penny

We gathered our flashlights and ducked under the fence into the cow pasture. Barefoot we dodged cow pies and prickle bushes to make our way over to the discomforted mother. To this day I don't know why she didn't move away, instead she just stood there moaning. Someone tripped away to wake my dad, and before the hour struck 2 a.m. he'd delivered a little bull calf amidst a gaggle to preteen girls with tears in their eyes. Now imagine me, twenty years later, all alone on the farm with a ewe in the first stages of labor.

Like I described in an earlier post, there's not much you can do for a laboring ewe, save watch and wait and get out of the way. But this specific ewe was our tiniest mother: Penny. I guessed she was only having one lamb, but oh how she struggled and strained each time she got the urge to push. It was difficult to watch. I was more than relieved when my dad came home to check on the animals. While I braced Penny, he pulled the lamb, a hefty little 14 lb number we're calling Peanut for the irony. (The photo at the top of the post is another ewe, Luna, she went into labor at 10 p.m. later in the evening and delivered triplets.)

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