Sunday the 17th
Something awoke me, a shepherdesses’ hunch, at 2 a.m. this morn. The way Leia behaved in the paddock last evening, though she’d consumed her meal for dinner typically, just told me, “Tonight.” So I went to bed early, fell asleep instantly, awoke at 2 a.m. brightly.
Out to the barn I went, it’d been 4 hours since I checked the expectant ewes who have no “LambCam” in their paddock to let me spy on them from the comfort of my comforters. I grab a glass of juice from the fridge, in case I’m going to be out there for awhile. I pull my woolen overalls on over my flannel pajamas, slip my feet-with-no-socks into my very tired leather boots, cover up head to toe and step out into the starry, moonlit yard. The pups are always jovial to take middle-of-the-night excursions while I attempt to quietly, darkly slide the big barn doors aside. I shush the pups when they start a barking-spree at nothing, or something. I throw an eye on the brooder full of chicks in the aisleway to make sure they’re dispersed, not huddled for warmth, their waterer is full, their feeder is full. Quietly, I slide the doors a crack again and order the pups, in a hushed tone, to come in before they wake the entire barnyard with their barking.
I turn on one light in the stall. And there is Leia, just pushing. And she’s gotten past the worst of her labor and very soon a white lamb is on the ground. Her energy shifts to busy licking of her lamb, all over, all over. In no time there is wiggling, stretching and bleating.
This new life in the barn, the latest, stands in not too much time and follows her instinct to seek her mother’s udder. Is it the body heat? Is it the sound of her mother’s womb that is so familiar to her? How does she know to draw in to the exact source of her first meal in this world? Her mother nudges her and licks her and positions her by gentle direction. And, then, she’s having her first meal.
Soon, fifteen minutes or so, number 2 slips out and Leia is working all over again to clean up a sac-soaked black and shiny mass of brand new baby on the ground. Little white number one is still getting attention because she’s up again and in mama’s line of fire with all of that licking. I step into the stall, then, and scoop her up to towel her off, trim her cord and dip it in iodine while Leia is so busy with the twin.
This black, star-shawled ram lamb is sturdy and up, now Leia has two to fuss over. He got to his feet in less than 5 minutes, flopping only once in his efforts. Leia is all consumed to attend to both of them now, one cries and then the other bleats, tiny sounds and she responds with her guttural baah that is unique to the mamas during labor.
I wait for the second one to have ample time with grooming so as not to inhibit any bonding and imprinting as these are Leia’s first twins and I want to insure she accepts both unconditionally. Of course, she does. She mothered little Laird, last year, without a hitch.
After I’ve seen to both of them nursing, have trimmed and iodined the little ram lamb’s cord-site, I grab a fresh flake of hay and fill a bucket with water for the stall. I hang the bucket carefully on the side of the stall, high enough so no toddling lambs will find it in the dark and accidentally tumble in, as I have heard sad tales of. It’s on my mind. What else? I think. I shut the outside stall door after throwing an eye on the other ewes. None of them will be delivering before I go out again in the daylight. An inspection tells me that.
The lights go out, I slide the oversized doors open as quietly as possible and call the dogs to follow. We walk across the back yard to the house in the dark, eyes up on the stars. It’s so beautiful. A few bells from the Boy Band are tinkling, a token baah from the Cruise Ships in the side paddock.
It feels good to take my outerwear off and make a cup of tea and start the day. It’s 3 a.m..