March 23rd, 2009
For the last few days, all the signs were in place that Pixie would soon give birth. Her back end dropped and an udder suddenly became visible. She walked stiffly and on several occasions would start to wander off. We kept the sheep in the shed Friday night but Saturday arrived with no lambs. By Sunday morning, the ram was getting edgy so we let him out into the field with one of the ewes, leaving just Pixie and Stella in the shed. An hour later we checked again and Pixie was lying down in the back corner of the shed, ready for her moment.
For people like us, with no previous experience with pregnant livestock, research can be a mixed blessing. Although it theoretically prepares you for all the various outcomes, some of those outcomes are not so pleasant. So you can imagine our immense relief when shortly after 10 a.m., Pixie produced two spunky little lambs au naturel. For an hour we watched from the other side of the shed as she carefully licked each lamb clean, all the while reassuring them with breathy murmurs. With each passing minute, the lambs gained strength and soon they were groping instinctively for Pixie’s udder.
The rest of the day was considerably less dramatic as mother and lambs alternated naps with get-to-know-you encounters. By this morning, they had ventured 5 or 10 yards closer to the front of the shed. There’s a lot out there for them to discover.
For a short 12-second film of mother and lambs, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDKmDF_IYnw