Big, Fat, Selfish Moms

Natanielle even knew who it was (besides me) over the phone. It was Daisy.

“Oh, mom, it must be Daisy. All she ever cares about is food.”

Yesterday, upon going in the barn I found two, hungry lambs. One still had a wet umbilical cord, but they had both been cleaned off and had obviously nursed. I went out to the meadow to try and find the mom, and sure enough one looked like she had just given birth. She started screaming for her babies and ran back to the barn. I moved them all to a warm pen in the sun with hay and water, but Daisy kept butting away the stronger female lamb and would not let her nurse.

Sheep rodeo ensues and I try and push her to the corner and hold her while trying to get them to nurse. One weak, fat mom wrestling one strong, fat mom is not a fair match, so I got a halter rope, had a rodeo, tied her up, and pushed her against the wall. Both babies nursed well and I continued that all afternoon, because she would let her nurse if I had the rope on her, but would butt her if not.

I take them to the warmer barn for the night, thinking that all was well with full tummies. This morning, Daisy had broken out of her pen, which was full of hay and water, and was off eating in the meadow. Both babies were cold and hungry, but the female was very weak. Fat, slow mom running after fat, fast mom is not a fair race and it took a while to get Daisy back in the barn pen. I tie her in the corner, but neither baby could nurse and the female obviously was not going to make it if I didn’t get something in her tummy. I leave Daisy tied and go warm up some of Elsa’s colostrum which I had frozen for this very purpose.

When I get back, Daisy had broken loose, rope still around her neck, and she and the male lamb were gone. The weak female had been trampled and lay still. I bring her inside the house and she gratefully drank some colostrum. The problem was, she then needed to be held up, so she would not get into a bad position and get the colostrum in her lungs. I prop her up in a box in a sunny window so she can warm up, and I go try and find Daisy and the other lamb.

Fat mom dragging a fat, fighting mom, by a rope all the way back to the barn was not the easiest, but I was not about to let her go. Back in the pen with hay, she let the little man nurse.. Whew! By this time another fat mom was in the barn and had just had twins. I bring a bucket of water to Daisy and before I get the gate closed, she busts through past me and races to the flock in the meadow. Fat, slow mom loses race with fat, fast mom, so as a last resort I go get her screaming baby and bring it to her in the meadow, before the nitwit forgets she has a baby. Thank goodness it is sunny and the baby had stopped shivering.

Back to the house to check on the other lamb. Poor thing had twisted her head back and certainly seemed like she had fluid in her lungs. I wrap her in a blanket and hold her so her head remains up, rubbing her all over to get her system moving, and hope for the best.

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Unfortunately chaos in the driveway makes me have to lay her back down, as the sheep are out and headed for the road. With 8 baby lambs in the group and now with Daisy and her new one, I can’t let them get far. Fat mom chasing 70 sheep, and fat mom wins! and heads them off to another meadow.

Thank goodness Daisy had some sense of motherhood remaining, though she had left her baby far away in the pasture, she lagged behind the flock and was behind the fence. I get her back to the barn area where she can’t get out to find the flock and go try and find her baby. I hear screaming far away in the pasture and Daisy is screaming for her baby as well. I see way down by the river a big, fat pig with a tiny lamb following it. “At least it is someone, though certainly not my mom.” The little lamb is easily caught and I am able to take him to Daisy and lure her back into the sunny pen where now the other mom and twins have been put. Whew!

Back to lamb #1 in the house. Not good, she really had needed to be held, but maybe she would not have made it anyway because of her horrible night and the trampling.

In any case, it is important to be at the bedside, holding someone who is dying. It softens the blow, for both parties, and just giving comfort in the struggle to pass from this life to the next is a comfort in itself.

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Guilt remains, however, as I do everything possible to try and prevent having bottle lambs. Selfishly, sometimes, as in this case, I should have acted sooner and given up the hope that the other fat, selfish mom would have accepted her, and brought her inside last night before it was too late.

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