i am now the proud 'mother' of an orphan lamb.
welcome the newest addition to three dog farm!
what a unfortunate first lambing. poor freyja had a dystocia (difficult labor). the lamb had elbow lock, and therefore was stuck in the birth canal a little too long. all of freyja's efforts and hard pushing were not getting her anywhere. i knew that once labor had progressed to the stage where the nose and front hooves were presented, that she should be thrusting that baby out pretty quickly. i did an internal exam, and literally could feel that it was stuck. she had some strong contractions while i was examining her and the lamb didn't budge even when i assisted her a little. Time to call the vet!!! my vet was there in a flash and in minutes she diagnosed that the elbows were locked. so, i held freyja's head while she pushed the lamb back in, pulled the legs out straight, and then pulled the lamb free. It was such a sad few moments--he was totally lifeless with a blue tongue. but, amazingly, he came to life after some good shaking, swinging, and vigorous rubbing. this was an enormously traumatic event for freyja, and because of it she totally rejected the lamb.
here she is wondering what that black blob is.
we tried for a couple of hours to get freyja to bond with him. he was a very weak lamb, beyond the normal amount of wobbly, and all freyja wanted to to was butt him around the stall. he had no suckle reflex and was beginning to get hypothermia. we were able to get some great colostrum from freyja and so the vet tube fed him and i wisked him into the house for some blow drying. i was able to tube more colostrum in his stomach as the night when on, and then finally at 1:45 am (after much much much persistance and patience!) he began to suckle from a bottle. hooray! a big sigh of relief from me and i finally felt as though he would make it. i stayed up the whole night, feeding him every two hours. i have to give a HUGE shout out to fox, who got up everytime i woke him to trudge to the sheep shack and help me milk freyja. it was definitely a team effort.
his legs are a little funky, to say the least. i'm wondering about a possible genetic/development thing--strange leg conformation/ elbow lock might not be a coincidence. regardless, i do know horses are born often with very loose tendons for a variety of reasons. once they are up and about for a few days, the tendons seem to tighten up and the leg conformation resumes something resembling normal. sometimes splints are necessary to help the situation. this little guy had a really bad right hind fetlock joint so i made him a cardboard/vet wrap splint and he began keeping the hoof on the ground as opposed to walking on his turned under fetlock joint. i'm sure he won't be winning any prizes for conformation, but we will love him just the same.
now, for the fun stuff...i think he is grey! he is black, but there is white in his ears, muzzle, and his undercoat is white/grey. as he is intended as a wool animal (he will be wethered--no breeding for wobbly legs!), grey would be amazing! i have some grey lopi, and it is just the most fantastic stuff. such a unique, natural color for wool. black is great too, since i have white and brown fleeces already.
and last but not least, his name is 'staralfur' which means 'starry elf' in icelandic. it is also the title of an incredible song by sigur ros which you can here a sample of here. we can call him star for short.
here he is today, enjoying the warm sun from the safety of his crate. i have moved him outside to the goat stall, lest he grow up thinking he is human. he has a full view of the goats so he will begin to get the idea of eating hay and drinking water eventually. his is looking strong and eating very well so let's hope he is with us for the duration!