I went into the barn yesterday around 5:00 a.m. and saw that Alice, one of my Clun Forest ewes, had a white lamb standing between her front legs. Oh goody! Behind her is another lamb. Off in a corner, another. And there's another, and another. I just kept counting and counting in disbelief.
I thought for sure that one of the other Cluns had lambed at the same time, then got run off while Alice claimed all the lambs for herself. But no, Cora and Rosie had clean butts and were plump and contented.
The lambs were shivering. The two smallest were depressed, hunched with lowered heads. The three more robust lambs were trying to nurse off two teats, bumping each other off. Alice was doing her best to get them cleaned up, but this was a lot of work for her.
I swallowed my panic, grabbed some paper towels, and got busy rubbing the lambs and trying to get everyone a chance at some colostrum. I wrestled each one into a plastic lamb coat and hoped that Alice wouldn't reject them.
The two smallest did have warm mouths and a suck reflex. Thank God I had leftover milk replacer from last year. I got them on the bottle for a drink. Then I had to get to work.
I expected the two little lambs to be dead when I got home. Everyone was alive, but they were bawling and obviously in distress.
This afternoon, Carmela was in labor a little too long. Sure enough, a HUGE head was sticking out the back, with only one hoof showing. I pulled a beefcake of a moorit gulmoget ram lamb single, with depressions on his head and no horn buds. Nice conformation, four square. Fleece unfortunately falls off at the heartgirth, but...I'll keep an eye on him anyways. :)
So my Shetlands are off to a pretty good start, anyways. I'm seriously re-thinking my whole "home meat flock" plans, I think Shetlands have spoiled me with their hardiness.....but have a whole summer to think things over. Those mules are darn cute, they have little donkey heads. I'll get better photos of them once they get up and around a little. They are loving their heat lamp at the moment.