Miracle Gets a New Mom

Mother’s Day on the farm culminated in a midnight rush to the barn to help Cocoa the ewe deliver triplets. One was pure white, one speckly, and one a red-cinnamon color. The last baby was breech and needed some help, but all was well and the new family is celebrating life in their special jug home in the barn.

Oh, that all the animal transitions to motherhood could be smooth! But this is not always the case. Earlier in the week, a prime (first-time mom) suffered an abruption, which is when the placenta separates from the uterus prematurely. This causes an immediate animal emergency, and if the ewe had been a human, she would have been rushed to the hospital for a cesarian section. Sheep, however, would not survive this type of surgery, so it is up to the human midwives to assist in the birthing process to rescue as much of the pregnancy as possible.

Kara bravely endeavored to help the ewe and save the twin lambs. Sadly, the first baby was not able to make it being too compromised to survive, and his brother was born very weak. The mother decided she had no interest at all in her new role as mom and rejected the little one, wanting to scale the walls of the pen. So, Kara brought the droopy surviving baby inside the house to keep it warm and safe.

Baby lambs, just like baby humans, crave love and interaction. The trauma of the untimely delivery and the lack of motherly stimulation caused him sink into depression, and the little one took no interest in feeding or standing. He lay in the heated stock tank like a limp rag, uninterested in life.

To the great fortune of this little one, another ewe gave birth later that day to twins. She has a huge udder, and she’s taken on foster lambs in previous years. Kara ran back to the house and picked up the limp lamb, returning to the barn as quickly as possible. Sheep are not very skilled at counting, and during the birthing process, often you can fool them about how many lambs they have delivered.

Miraculously, she ewe adopted the little lamb, licking him and baahing. His foster siblings cuddled with him, and it seemed very hopeful that the new family unit would work. But the little boy continued to lag, uninterested in eating, and Kara had to tube feed him milk to help him have enough energy to keep going.

And then, a couple of days in, the new lease of life finally clicked in the brain of the limp little lamb. Kara was thrilled to call us at the house to rejoice that he was standing and jumping and interested in nursing.

“It’s a miracle!” she cried. “He’s totally different.”

“We should name him Miracle,” Mom offered, smiling. “I knew he needed interaction with other sheep, and then he would be able to thrive.”

This morning, little Miracle is bouncing around in the bed, nursing on his own, and snuggling with his foster siblings. Momma sheep treats him just like all the others, and he happily stretches and shakes—sure signs of a healthy, happy lamb. He is certainly a lucky little fellow!

With 29 little lambs in the barn and 7 more pregnant ewes to go, lambing season is still underway on the farm. The barn is a chorus of baaas in the morning, deep “momma baas” and tiny baby baas. The littlest ones wear their blue fleece coats to help them stay warm, while older lambs have graduated from theirs.

It won’t be long before the older lambs and ewes will be able to leave their jug pens and comingle in mixing pens. As they stretch their legs, the lambs will gambol and bounce about, as if their toes are the springs of pogo sticks. It is so adorable! We are so grateful that little Miracle will be able to be among them, empowered by his new mom.

Here’s to all the moms out there, the two-legged and the four-legged, moms of animals, and moms of kids born by others. Moms truly make the world go round! I’m sure that little Miracle would agree. See you down on the farm sometime.