Sunday morning on March 4th when feeding I notice my Suffolk Texel cross had no interested in food but licking her lips giving all the signs she was due to lamb. I separated her from the flock bringing her in. She would be the first of my small flock to lamb so was hoping all would go well.
I had put her to my Zwartbles Ram so was expecting twins at least. The last few years she had always lambed with no problem always in lamb to a Zwartbles Ram.
After a few hours the first lamb sack was beginning to appear so knew birthing was imminent. Came back half hour later the bag had burst but still nothing so went in for an inspection and found two hind legs. So grabbed the two legs and pulled out a fine sized ram lamb who was already dead. Went inside again finding the second presenting backwards again pulled him out this time alive and spluttering. I cleared his face of birth fluid putting him in front of the ewe so she could start cleaning and bonding. Then I go in for a third time to see if there is anything else and there is a third lamb. I can feel it is already wiggling which is not a good sign as it might drown breathing in fluids and once again backwards so as fast as I can I pull this third lamb out. I clear its air way and holding its back legs I swing it like a wheel hoping to force the fluid out of its lungs by centrifugal force. After a few goes I have this lamb breathing well, I rubbed her and her brother vigorously with straw to help stimulate, dry and get them moving. I left them both breathing easy with heads up making small bleets and their Mother cleaning them and happily muttering to them in a Motherly way.
I come back later to check up on them finding the male standing looking for a suckle but the female lamb is still down and getting cold. I rub her vigorously again with straw turn over the ewe getting the lamb to suckle some colostrum directly from the teat hoping this would warm her and give her strength to get going and standing. She seems better so I leave again only to come back in half an hour to find her shivering so I set up a heat lamp to warm her but still keeping her close to her Mother.
I take a photo of her and send it to my twitter followers saying “So boring having triplets all presented backwards. Lost one might loose a second even after swinging it like a helicopter.”
Later again I come back only to find the ewe lamb in a very bad way she had almost stopped shivering her mouth was almost stone cold, her breathing sounded like a death rattle. Hypothermia had set in so there is only one thing to do. Get her as warm as possible as quickly as possible. I brought her into the kitchen grabbing the nearest news paper, which happened to be that weeks Irish Farmer Journal, using it as a blanket then placing her into the bottom left oven of the four door Aga cooker.
I then take this photo posting it on twitter saying, “OK in desperation I have gone the old fashioned way bottom left oven in the Aga”
I then start getting twitter responses from:
Pat O’Keeffe Deputy Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal @IFJ_Pat “That’s this week’s! Hope you got some value from it and the lamb does too..”
Then the funnies start kicking in with John Kelly a sheep farmer in Wicklow @jOhn_k “Taking early lamb to a whole new level…..”
With me responding “Yup seem to be doing that; instead of rosemary I season my lamb with the farmers journal”
But he then gets kindly serious and sent this message “if you inject 20% glucose solution into gut it can bring them back to life in no time +heat of course”
I thanked him but also saying “not done that before I would worry I might miss. Warmth we have in spades with Aga oven”
When another person Scottish Sheep Strateg @ScotSheepStrat tweets “directions for use of Intraperitoneal administration of glucose – promise its easy ablamb.ca/documents/fact…”
I then had to leave the kitchen for some reason returning to find the cat trying to help.
Rebecca Jones @thesheperdess “looks like the cats moved in too ! All you need is a piglet then you may have a world record !”
Someone called Sam’s Lamb @samslamb tweets “ever tried a very small tipple of whiskey to get lambs going? warms them up and makes them go
#killorcure” “does me good too, well my gran has been doing it to lost causes for 50 odd years and has a surprisingly high survival rate”
I get this response from Sam’s Lamb ” yes that looks too good 😛 but only like half a teaspoon” later adding “mixed in with milk”
Then I get a tweet from a Sarah Jane Humke @sarahjanehumke ‘I want video of this.’
I have to respond “It might not be a happy Hollywood ending so no video” she tweets back “Sorry to hear it. This is one of those moments that really suck in farming….”
Time past with many people tweeting their best wishes to the lamb in the oven hoping she would recover. She becomes called the ‘Aga lamb’ and people are retweeting the photos and the story and so my following grows through the night as I sit by the Aga warming the ‘Aga Lamb’.
I tweeted “Well lamb has stopped shivering bleeted a few times & tried to stand. Back in the oven again as mouth still to cold”
Finally I was able to Tweet this photo:
Soon after I tweeted this one:
Caragh Nurseries @CaraghNurseries “Come on little Aga we’re all routing for you! PS Aga is shortened form of the name Agnieska in Polish (former au-pair of ours)”
By this time my phone had nearly died but the lamb was going to live. So off to bed I went having put the lamb in a dog cage with straw bedding next to the Aga. The next morning I had many tweets asking about the lamb so tweeted this photo, saying she was alive but still not standing.
Later that day, others asked if something was wrong with her legs as she had such a violent entry into this world.
Karen Dixon @TheTapestryFarm said “I’m sure u will have done this, but have u tried massaging & rubbing the lambs legs whilst holding it in a standing position?”
My response “legs working she was so shook last nite just weak still & kitchen floor not easiest place to get a grip 4 standing “
Finally by early evening she was standing on her own and I could announce to Twitter land ” She is doing great screaming her head off in the kitchen wanting attention! Tomorrow she is out into the stables with a heat lamp”
I am then able to make a short video from my iphone showing Aga lamb tottering about to prove she is walking and getting stronger.
A twitter from California Megan E. Kapellen @mekapellen “My heart was breaking when I saw those pictures last night. I’m so happy to see her cruising around on those little feet. :)” “She looks like she’s doing really well now. I’m so happy! Also, she’s damned cute.”
I return tweet “Shes roaring away pampering stops tomorrow Amazing what can happen in 24 hours The promise of life a lamb risen from near death”
She moved out the next day into the shed with a heat lamp for warmth.
By this stage she had been christened Aggee the Aga lamb. Still many on twitter kept asking how she was.
So she sent them all a smile while feeding and I happened to take the photo
The Kennixton Flock @kennixtonsheep ” well done both of you! Hope Aga goes from strength to strength.”
I also twittered them this photo of her new home until she is strong enough to move on out into the field.
The following day I let her out for a spin in the yard, she runs around so fast that her little legs are a blur
Then the visitors start coming to give Aggee some true human loving.
She starts getting busy helping around the yard
I then introduce her to some of the tools of the trade
Finally she is turned out into a small field with some new friends whom she is not sure of.
Just had a visitor asking about Aga lamb I said we had her for lunch rubbing my belly; ‘No you couldn’t have your the Mother Teresa of animals’!