Last year Olive had twins and I kept her female lamb and named her Nancy. Now please understand that when I use a person kind of name I am not naming the sheep after any person that I know. In this case, Nancy was the last of the five ewe lambs kept that had not yet been named. In my mind I referred to her as No Name. Finally my mind said No Name Nancy and from there I called her Nancy.
So this is Nancy's first year to lamb. One evening I counted the sheep and one was missing. I looked around and found Nancy standing behind the barn in the process of giving birth. She was outside the back doors so I scooted around the barn and closed all of the other doors to keep everyone out. When I reached the back where Nancy was located she was lying down and pushing. I went to her immediately and could see the two feet and a nose. A Shepherd is always relieved to see those three things! It was a tight fit and I assisted, pulling on one leg which eased the shoulder through the pelvic girdle, then gently pulled on the other leg. The gentle pulling happens in rhythm with mother's pushing. The lamb eased through and lay in a puddle behind Nancy.
She was beat and didn't move. Often the sheep jumps up, the umbilical breaks and mom begins to chat to her baby while she licks it clean. Nancy was too tired and this was her first. She did make a motherly sound or two. I wiggled the lamb closer to her head but didn't want to pull on the still attached umbilical. I cleared the mouth and saw that baby was breathing.
I ran inside the barn for a lambing towel. When I returned I used the towel to wipe baby's face further. There was a chilly breeze on my back and I was protecting the lamb from that breeze. Mother still did not get up. Finally, I shoved her a few times and Nancy got up. The umbilical broke and mother began the licking ritual.
After a few short minutes I scooped up baby in the towel and holding it low and at nose and eye level to Nancy, I backed into the barn. Mother followed, seeing and sniffing baby. I put down baby just inside and closed the door to the chilly breeze.
After awhile I put Nancy and her new daughter into a lambing pen. The barn was busy with lambs. At two thirty that morning I had entered the barn for my night check to find Olive with a new baby daughter. I had put them into a larger pen. Nancy got the small pen.
When the lambs are a few days old, they have been ear tagged for identification, have had their tails and testicles banded and are well bonded with their mothers they go into a 'nursery'. In a larger pen I group a few moms and their babies. This is a transition to the larger world of the larger flock. There is some pushing and shoving as the ewes work out their pecking order and mommies and babies work out finding each other in the group.
So, at two days I thought I'd put grandma and daughter together. I wanted to get Nancy out of that small pen. I figured this would be a good opportunity, that Olive would help Nancy figure out some of the ropes of new motherhood. Yearlings get picked on by the older sheep but I didn't expect that to happen here. Olive is a top sheep in the flock as I observed last summer when each morning it was she that led the flock out to pasture.
I was wrong. There was absolutely no warm familial atmosphere at all. As I puttered around the barn doing other things I realised there was some bashing going on in that pen. I made sure they had hay and water to occupy them and with good access by both ewes fighting and bashing should be less. Still, I could here a bit more thumping going on.
I looked more closely into the pen and could see Nancy's smaller baby holding up her right hind leg. She held it high. Sometimes they get banged and it stings and five minutes later they are tearing around again. This did not happen; it did not get better. I picked up the lamb and felt down the leg. It felt fine to me, but how would I know unless a broken bone poked out sideways. I put her down and waited.
After a few hours I realised there was no change. I called the vet. The office telephoned back to say he would not be there until after seven that evening. I put grandma Olive in a larger pen with three other ewes and their lambs. Nancy and her lamb were by themselves again.
It was broken right through in the pastern area. For such a break to occur someone would have to stand on top of it, the vet explained. Unfortunately the vet had had a very long day and his supplies were low so he could not cast it. I wonder if he thought that might not be the outcome. At any rate, he came back the next day and cast baby's leg. Almost immediately baby felt better. When she was returned to her pen she rested the leg on the ground for the first time. The vet was impressed.
Euthanizing was an option. This did not readily come to my mind. "As long as I break even", I had said to the vet. And then he said, "This is an experiment. I felt so badly that I didn't have the supplies with me last night." And he also suggested in our conversation that the leg might not heal very straight. It would however heal and the lamb would be without pain. That was / is a worthy goal.
She really is a "Tough Cookie". "Cookie" will do just fine.