February 6 Ariel came into the world. I happened to be filling the water troughs when I heard that little cry announcing a new arrival. As I approached the barn I saw the lamb and instantly new something wasn’t quite right. The ewe is a Moorit brown and there was this little white snowflake laying next to her with a bloody dark ring around her neck. It only took a moment to recognize the cord was wrapped around her neck…not once… but twice. While I watched, the ewe moved and pulled the lamb by the cord. Before the panick could set in, I realized she was actually pulling the cord off of the lambs neck so I remained where I was and continued to watch. Shortly, the ewe had the cord off of the little one’s neck and continued to clean her new baby. I said a little prayer of thanks to the powers that be and to Shetland ewes who really are excellent moms.
What happened next, was out of the mom’s control. This ewe had only been here on the farm for a couple of weeks and had come from a farm where she was allowed to fraternize with a hair ram….thus the early birth. The lamb was born on one of the days we had tee shirt weather but it didn’t stay that way. Two days later the temperature dropped and we had thunderstorms. The little ewe went from trotting after mama to weak and not wanting to get up. She had gotten wet and chilled during the storm. I made the decision to bring her inside and make her comfortable during what I assumed would be her last hours.
Being a kritter person, you don’t give up as long as there is a chance so I mixed electrolytes with goats milk and offered it with a bottle. No deal. She wouldn’t take a bottle so I tried a syringe. The syringe was acceptable to her and she ate about 12cc’s. An hour later, I tried again. Then another hour. The first 24 hours I ‘lived’ in my recliner holding her wrapped in kritter blankets with a towel liner for accidents. After that, the feedings spread out to every 2 hours… for the next two weeks. I’m getting too old for two hour feedings!
She had a good appetite but if livestock can’t stand and move, their internal systems usually shut down. She still couldn’t stand without support and couldn’t get up on her own at all. Two of my female dogs decided to play surrogate moms and started washing her face and licking to stimulate her just like they would for a puppy. I put my dogs little jacket on her for the first week to help keep her warm and just kept hoping.
It was three weeks before she was able to stand up on her own again. Since that time she has gotten stronger and stronger. I gave her a large rug which she uses as her training pad so to speak but she is better in the house than the average puppy. She sleeps on a blanket at the foot of my recliner or on the dog bed with the dogs. It seems strange to walk down the hallway and hear hooves clicking on the floor following me along with the dogs. She goes out for a walk with the dogs and plays with their toys.
At this time she is now eating pelleted food and hay along with her bottle every 5 hours but it’s too cold to put her outside so that she can learn she’s a sheep and not a dog. Five inches of snow fell last night. I fell asleep and dreamed of a big barn with stalls and pens where I could put a heat source and set her up in a more natural habitat but I am not so fortunate to have such a luxury. My barns are sufficient but small and rely on everyone getting along together.
I hope to be purchasing a lamb from a farm about an hour away that is weaned to give Ariel a friend and I hope someone to show her what it’s like to be a sheep. I have recently finished another large fenced area with good grass so I’m hoping to move her out there next week with a large ‘doghouse’ shelter. She has trully been a blessing but I am looking forward to her moving out and growing up… outside… so that I can sleep longer than 6 hours at a time.
So anytime you’re faced with what seems like an impossible situation…. remember Ariel and know that miracles do happen.