The way it goes for sheep

Clarissa's ewe lamb, about an hour old
Clarissa’s ewe lamb, about an hour old

It must be wonderful to be a pregnant sheep. No anxiety, no obsession about every little kick or twinge you feel as the time for birth draws near. You live in your body, responding to its changes. As your belly fills with babies, you lie down carefully and grunt or pant as the bony little legs shift around inside and the packages of lambs compress your lungs and stomachs.

You follow your routines of resting, eating, chewing cud, and resting again until the great long muscles begin to contract. Something makes you want to paw at the ground to create a hollow. Something makes you feel like licking. You turn circles as your own powerful muscles force you down and then pull/push, pull/push to expel the lamb. You can’t see it, you just feel that need to push. ¬†First the nose appears and some front feet, diving position. The big lump of shoulders takes some time to work through, then the rest gushes out.

You feel relief, and stand up. Then you notice what looks like a plastic bag moving on the ground behind you. You are curious, and that urge to lick returns just as the lumpy bag begins to thrash around, freeing itself from the sac and sometimes beginning to holler as soon as its sticky head can separate from all the fluids and other wet parts. You make small sounds constantly as you lick the fluids off the baby. In ten minutes, the baby lamb is on its feet, searching for that very first meal of colostrum.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *