Wednesday morning while they ate their grain, I inspected the nether regions of my 3 ewes and was stunned to find the bags of two of them filling up. They don’t look that pregnant yet and I was thinking we are still a month out (the ram runs with them all the time so due dates are a mystery). Back inside I researched and after seeing some pictures of pregnant ewes, I relaxed a little. The bags on mine looked about like the pictures of a ewe taken 18 days before her lambs were born. Plus, my ewes didn’t look nearly as big as that in the online photo. I also looked up my calendar where I had noted the first time I had seen the ram interested in the ewes and found my memory had been faulty. I had remembered it being mid-October but found it was actually Sept 19th, and when I looked it up on the chart, that would have put her due date as Tuesday. So I figured the first time didn’t take and she probably got impregnated on her following heat cycle, which made me even more relaxed about waiting another few weeks.
So that evening I went outside to do my evening chores and since it was the mildest evening we’d had for over a week, I puttered around enjoying my chickens and turkeys. Then I walked into the sheep pen and around the corner came a ewe followed by a still-wet, still-tottering lamb. Amazingly I had my phone in my pocket, which never happens, so I was able to snap this:
See the umbilical cord still hanging down, and a little blood on the ewe’s back leg? There followed some very hasty rearranging of things. As you can see, she (yes, I checked and she is a ewe lamb) was born out in the snow and was still tottering around in it. She had not yet nursed in this photo, but did start nuzzling under the forelegs looking. A little while later she figured it out and got her first meal. But though I’m glad she waited until our forecast consists of a slow warming trend, that night was supposed to get into the teens.
So I encouraged Mum to take her into our shelter, a 3-sided affair where she is surrounded by hay. The bedding layer is very deep now, and baby soon lay down and almost disappeared into a “nest” of hay. She looked very comfortable and wasn’t shivering at all.
I also took the precaution of locking the rest of the flock into an area where they will have protection from all elements. Another ewe’s bag looked the same as this one this morning so now I’m afraid she’s going to give birth sometime soon as well, and I wanted her to be somewhere safe and relatively warm.
I don’t typically name my sheep but a friend suggested I name this one “Snowball” because she was born out in the snow. So, Snowball it is. Snowball survived her first night just fine and next day was nursing well. I even saw her give a little hop, as she gains confidence on those spindly little legs.