My bag is packed and stashed near the back door. Any given day now finds itself regularly interrupted by a quick jaunt to the Sheep Hotel to check on Ms. Garnet, who’s nearly wider now than she is long. I’m waiting.
You might remember that Garnet was the first of our ewes to lamb last Spring. I wasn’t home for the actual delivery but returned a dead lamb in the pasture. We suspect it was stillborn, but there’s a nagging possibility that the lamb was abandoned midway through the vitally-important cleaning-off period. Maybe Garnet didn’t snap into New Momma mode like she should have. Maybe she neglected her task of vigorous licking and cleaning out the lambs nostrils. We’ll never know.
So it seems extra-important that I’m there when Garnet drops this new batch of lambs. (I optimistically believe there’s more than one, but what the hell do I know?) Surely she wonders why I’m lingering so much, and so often. No doubt I’m becoming quite annoying. In the mornings, I apprise her of the weather report, adding my own suggestion of whether or not it would be a good day to lamb. “Drizzling rain likely all day,” I tell her. “Tomorrow looks better. Maybe wait till then?” She politely nods or makes eye contact, humoring me. She has the tact to not point out that I really have no idea what I’m doing, that she actually is quite capable of doing this herself and would prefer not to have a gawky onlooker getting in her way. I appreciate her silence.
Thanksgiving is lurking though, right around the corner, and starting to make me nervous. How shall I manage that, if she’s not yet lambed? How long dare I step away to indulge in turkey and pie? I’d rather not have to puzzle that out. Instead, I’ll start offering some of the classic methods of labor encouragement: herbal tea, spicy foods, castor oil, teat stimulation….
Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just take the classic approach. The Wait and See method. Until then, my bag is packed with all sorts of things I hope I never have to use, and a few that I look forward to administering, sooner rather than later. That bag, I might add, is a sturdy old doctor’s bag that I picked up over the summer. Every sheep midwife should have one, I reckon. A special thanks to Geo. Radtke for taking such good care of it during his tenure.