Thursday, 26 March 2015

Twins for Polly.

I am happy to announce the birth of twin ewe lambs to our enormous Jacob cross ewe, Polly. Well, that is 'twins so far' but I think we're all done, the fat lady has sung. Polly has got up, licked them clean, encouraged them to a bit of powerful suckling and is now looking a whole lot more relieved and comfortable than of late. She looks like a lady who has completed her tasks for the day and is now sitting back to enjoy the products. I may be wrong.

These 2 ladies were slid out very efficiently and fast in the half hour for which I was missing, between 11:30 and just after midday - I had nipped out to walk the dogs down to the bridge. When I left she had just started leaking the 'gloop' and a short rag of membrane but was not showing any feet or noses at the exit. By the time I got back she was standing up at the very top of our East Field enthusiastically licking both babies clean as they bleated and staggered around her in a wobbly manner, nosing for likely teats.

A 12-legged sheep?
If you have read the last few posts you will know that Polly has been big for a while now and had lately started to look a bit uncomfortable. In my inexperienced eyes, I was sure she would 'pop' last night, just my luck with Liz being in the UK again on another, unrelated mission of mercy. She declined supper and was standing well away from the gate and the other ewe and lamb, down by the hedge at the bottom of the field - just standing contemplating without grazing, occasionally shifting her weight from foot to foot.

A bit icky round this end, Mum.
Yesterday evening I started checking on her every hour on the hour but she just returned blank looks and a face enquiring "what are you out here again for?". I even set an alarm at 0200 and went to check but again, still teasing me. I was sure, however, that we were on and fully expected to see progress by 0700 today. She declined breakfast (which is unheard of!) and was standing in the field shelter, now occasionally scratching at the ground with a front hoof. I kept checking in between the morning's jobs (a taxi-run to Balla, dog 'patrols', egg collecting, shopping for feed and coal in Castlerea) and finally at 1130 saw that first sign of fluid and membrane.

I nipped out with the dogs, thinking that these things can take hours and nothing would happen in such a short time. Delighted then, to come home, park the dogs and go to look, and could see the dark shapes of 2 lambs on their feet and happily pushing their noses in under Mum (neck, front legs, belly, you name it) and bleating the while. I could see that she had quite a lot of afterbirth still hanging down but all seemed to be well. Well done Mum!

I have since gathered the babies up (followed, of course by Polly) to the straw of the shelter and checked and found them to both be girls. I have then rushed round and let all the anxious 'supporters' know the news, including Liz and her 'charge' over in the UK, on Facebook etc (and now here). There is one more set of ears to let know - the bees! You traditionally have to keep your bees up to date with all the births and deaths, the family gossip and any events so that they feel included in the family and continue to work industriously for you. So that's all for now. I must off to the apiary and also keep an eye on that afterbirth. At 4 o'clock I have to collect Charlotte in another taxi run and she, who has had a lot more to do with sheep than I have, has agreed to come round and admire and inspect the new babies. She should be able to confirm that there is no 3rd baby "up the pipe" and whether I need to do anything more.

Congratulations, Polly and the twin girls.

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