Monday, March 26, 2012

CoCo's Triple Play - Clarinet, Castanet and Cornet

Sunday, March 18
It's a week after their births and I still haven't shared this tale with you. Last Sunday morning when I went to the barn, not only was Mesa's Marimba there to greet me but CoCo was in labor. Since she had triplets last year and since she was so big, I felt certain she was carrying triplets again.
Dear friend Dixie was invited Thursday for Bella's lambing. That call went out late as I was hurrying to get everything set up. Dixie arrived 5 minutes after Calliope was born. We waited another 2 hours but no second lamb arrived. Sunday morning I called Dixie just after 7 AM to let her know another ewe was in labor. She showed up quickly and we WAITED.
Finally, a tiny white ewe lamb arrived. Upon seeing her size I felt quite sure there would be 3 lambs. CoCo cleaned her very well and made all the right mothering noises. Her name is Clarinet, Clara for short. She's a dear little girl. Clara was not in any hurry to nurse. CoCo wasn't too interested in getting her to nurse either. Multiple moms often are more interested in delivering the next lamb than in seeing the present lamb nurses.
CoCo with triplets L to R  Castanet (Nettie), Clarinet (Clara) and Cornet (Cory)
CoCo caused me a problem last year when she wouldn't allow one of her triplets to nurse. Bottle babies, while fun, are work, worry and expense. Baby lambs NEED mama's colostrum or first milk for their survival. It is laden with antibodies to protect the newborn lamb from illness. If she won't allow the lamb to nurse you have milk mama and get the colostrum into the lamb within its first couple hours of life. The lamb's ability to absorb the antibodies drops rapidly. At the same time, the lamb's need for sustenance increases rapidly. After a day or two of mama's milk you can purchase commercially prepared lamb re-placer. Cows' milk doesn't contain enough fat to sustain a lamb. Baby lambs nurse many times a day, just like human babies. They don't wait for you to get up in the morning or wait for you to come home from work. To my thinking, asking someone to come here and bottle feed a lamb once or twice a day for a month is asking a lot. The past 2 years, I've needed my sister-in-law to fill in while I'm at work. She graciously accommodated my request but I still didn't want to ask.
It must have been an hour and a half before CoCo decided it was time to deliver ewe #2. A larger spotted cocoa colored ewe was delivered this time, Castanet. Her nickname is Nettie. Nettie was more eager to nurse than Clara. Good for her. It didn't diminish my worries about Clara getting a drink.
Now Coco was impatient to get the next lamb out.When she began laboring, I went in the stable to check her. Much to my disappointment the lamb's hind feet were showing.
Lambs, like humans, don't always present like they are supposed to do. Multiple births can complicate birthing positions, too. My "Go To"book is Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep. It says when you are pulling a breech lamb, don't stop pulling until the head is delivered. As soon as the umbilical cord is disturbed, the lamb takes a breath. When it's breech, its head is still inside mama, allowing the lamb to breath birthing fluids into its lungs. 
I told Dixie what I was going to do and then I did it. I pulled him out and suctioned his mouth and nose. He was a big white ram lamb, sturdy and hungry. Cornet (Cory) was on his feet very quickly (less than 10 minutes) and eager for a drink. I was glad Dixie was there for the moral support. I hate to pull lambs.
Seeing Tiny Clara get a drink from CoCo gives a shepherd a happy heart.


It was about 24 hours before I felt confident that little Clara was getting milk from CoCo without me intervening. Numerous times through the first day, I held CoCo so Clara could get a drink. She'll never be as big has her siblings but she's a happy lamb. I'm glad to report all three are doing well. 
No lambs have been born here in the past week. 
The tally is 2 single lambs, a ram and a ewe and 2 sets of triplets. One set has 2 rams and one set has 2 ewes. That gives us 4 ewe lambs, 4 ram lambs and 2 big mamas ready to burst.


  1. Hi from Italy, I'm happy for Clara! I also had a bottle lamb without mama's colostrum....It was horrible to see her sick for her first 15 days....We have no chance to buy prepared lamb replacer and her mum was alwasy empty as the other lamb was alwasy hungry.
    It ended well but she now is 2 years old and still pretends to be a dog!
    I'm so happy to read your blog, and the story of your herd.

  2. Hi Valentina, Thank you for commenting. I'm glad your hungry lamb story ended well. Thank you for sharing it.