Born Again

Yesterday, after a move with the flock, I discovered a lamb with no mom, in the original paddock. In the evening I gave her a drink of milk collected from a ewe who lost her lamb that day and was temporarily paralyzed from the birthing ordeal (she could not rise, so she was very easy to milk out).

I took the lamb up to the new paddock and set her amongst a swarm of ewes for the night. I was still hopeful that mom would realize she left her babe.

During the day today I didn’t notice her. But this evening I spied her curled up in tall grass along the fence line. Still no mom, tired and hungry.

Moments earlier I had watched a ewe have a successful birth.

I scooped up the little orphan and headed to the new mom. The ewe was absorbed in attending to the newborn at her feet and incredibly I was able to get close to her. A deft move by me with the orphan lamb in my left hand, and reaching for the fresh afterbirth and fluid sac trailing from the ewe with my right, and the little girl was soon donning somewhat of a 'born again' look.

The ewe gave a sniff and knocked her over. I made another feeble attempt, this time to hold the ewe and the lamb and get the two of them together. Nobody is in a pen here so it’s me, the ewe and a lot of space for both of them to stay out of reach. It didn't work. 

But I did get more blood/fluid on the lamb and now the ewe was gurgling to the lamb although she still stepped away from it. She was hard to convince. I wasn't going to fuss with them anymore so I got out of the way. Either it would work or it wouldn't.

The ewe became engrossed in attending to her real lamb, who was now up to suck. The orphan was hungry and knew precisely where to find a meal. She dove in to the ewes udder and I watched, elated, as she drank while the ewe fussed over her lamb on the opposite side. The ewe tipped her head over, nuzzled and licked the orphan.... and let her suck.

Whew! Lucky day. Pawning off orphan lambs without a pen to force the ewe and the lamb to be together is rarely successful and therefore worth a celebration. I think I try it at least once every year and at least one time it works for me. This one is off to a good start and after wrestling with the losses this week, I feel a bit born again myself.

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