30 degrees, no wind, mostly clear sky, about 1/3 of a moon low on the western horizon. Tonight there was a little bit of moonlight to help me see, unlike last night which was totally dark. On the first trip out to the field, as the sea of shining eyes belonging to the flock moved around I could see an unmooving pair of ewe's eyes shining near the fence corner. I was pretty close to another one I had seen, so I went to get that one first. She had a nice lamb and was very cooperative about following the cart to the barn. I had to keep looking back to be sure she was still following because she and her lamb were both quiet.
When I got to the muddy part of the corral, right outside the barn doors, I slowed down just a little too much and got the lambmobile stuck with it's front wheels up over the threshhold beam and the rear wheels still in the mud. Ok, close enough, so I picked the lamb out of the cart and we all went into the barn. I iodined the lamb's navel and put them in the last of the large pens. The other 8 were already occupied.
After entering info about ewe and lamb on the barn chart, I had to push the lambmobile backward through the mud to drier ground, then turn it around while trying not to become stuck in a new place. This would have been much easier if the machine had a reverse gear. It may have had one at one time, but it is very old and not in good repair. It has been in about the same shape for all the years I have been using it.
While on my way back out to pick up the second lamb I made a sweep of the lower part of the pasture to make sure there were no new lambs there. It only takes an extra minute or two and saves another trip if there is nothing. When I got to the ewe I had seen, I discovered she had 2 lambs. One was on it's feet and followed her toward the flock, the other was not moving. Uh oh, it was not moving because it was dead. I picked it up and put it on the back of the 4 wheeler, secured it by a bunge cord, then shined my flashlight toward the flock to find the other lamb.
The mother and another interested ewe were both paying attention to the lamb. The flock was moving away and the ewes started to follow. This could get tricky. I putt-putted slowly toward them, trying to get close enough to hop off the 4 wheeler and grab the lamb before the mother disappeared into the flock, and at the same time trying not to scare her. She seemed to be a little bit flighty. Thankfully the headlight on the 4 wheeler confused the lamb just enough so that it didn't know which way to go and I was able to get ahold of it before it decided which of the ewes to follow.
With lamb in cart, and momma now more interested in it than in following the flock, we started toward the barn. This ewe was also quiet. I putt-putted as slowly as possible past the edge of the flock whose leaders had decided to circle around to where they had been before I disturbed their night, and the momma kept following her lamb in the cart. the lamb occasionally made a cute little "maaaa" sound. Momma would grunt in answer, so after a couple of maaas and grunts I could tell we were still all together without having to look back. Sometimes looking back at the wrong time will send the ewe in panic back to the flock. Thankfully all went well this time.
When I got to the muddy part of the corral, I used a bit more throttle and managed to get all of the wheels into the barn without bouncing the poor lamb out of the cart going over the threshhold. Several of the smaller pens in the front of the barn had been prepared with clean straw so the new pair was put in one of them. Sometimes I have had to move a ewe with a single lamb out of one of the larger pens if I think the new one might need extra room to deliver another lamb. I could tell this one, after delivering 2 in the field, was finished.
The note on the barn table asked me to try to feed a little triplet lamb that was in the bummer pen under a heat lamp. It was too weak to suck from the bottle. I left the bottle of milk in the warm water in a picnic jug, and a note that the lamb would need tube feeding. With the milk already warm, that could be done quickly, but the tube apparatus was in the utility room at the house. This lamb will be bottle raised by another neighbor who buys them. I know from the years when I had my own flock that bottle lambs take time, time and energy that is in short supply when the ewes are popping out lambs almost faster than we can take care of them.
I was thankful that tonight's temperature is about 10 degrees warmer than last night although the pickup's windshield still needed to have the frost scraped from it so I could see to drive out my driveway and half a mile down the road. I park next to the big pile of barn cleanings directly across the road from the barn, so it is a straight trip to walk between truck and barn. The interior of the pile is probably pretty warm, it has a very pungent smell. I didn't think to shine my light on the top of the pile to check for escaping steam. That pile is a good source of fertilizer for my garden. I can take all I want and my neighbor is happy to see it go.
You can read more about Mary's Lambventures, 2011 by going to the Oregon cubit.