(Content warning: Lambing pictures below! If birth makes you wiggly, please move along.)
This farm has a way of putting life in perspective, and handing us just the challenges we need to get over whatever fears we've been carrying around.
Me? I was hoping we'd never have to help a ewe in labor. Ever.
Because – well, because that sounds downright scary terrifying. To literally holding life and death in your very hands. Honestly. It's a lot to think about.
We had made it almost all the way through two lambing seasons without having to assist a laboring ewe.
Before Pete left for work we went to the barn together for farm chores.
We found Ruby (a first time mom) in labor, a head and front hooves presenting. We hurried her into a quiet pen, assuming her lamb would join her in a moment.
But he didn't.
Five minutes. Ten. Twenty. The head and hooves just didn't budge.
Every other birth we have watched was smooth, quick, and graceful. They paw a little, the star-gaze, and woosh! Out slips the lamb.
This one wasn't like that.
But we've never watched a first-time mom give birth. And I know from my own experience that the first birth can be hardest.
I left Pete (in his town clothes) in the barn and ran to the house to call my friend Kathryn, my sheep mentor and the previous owner of Ruby's mom Glynda. She coached me through slow labor and first-time moms and I relaxed. We hid in the barn and waited.
Ruby was pushing, but her lamb still wasn't moving. Pete cancelled his meeting, then changed into farm clothes.
He found some gloves.
We called Kathryn again, and headed back to the barn.
We've never "pulled" a lamb before. We've never had a ewe that needed help.
Since I'm more of a baby, Pete was the one to put on the gloves. I watched, held my breath, and waited.
And before my eyes this man transitioned from Going to Work Guy to Sheep Doula to Sheep Midwife, just like that. Gentle, sensitive, and observant, he freed those long lamb legs that were hooked on the edge of her pelvis and guided the biggest lamb we've ever seen out into the straw.
Then quick as he could he got out of the way to let mama and baby bond.
And they did. Thank goodness.
Before noon Pete was back in his city clothes and off to work, and mother and baby were resting and nursing away in the barn. Tired, but healthy and strong. And I was still reeling from the whole experience, despite not being the one to don the gloves.
Having pulled this lamb, Pete was giving the honor of naming him. So meet Argo, named for Jason and the Argonauts. (Bonus points if you get the joke!)
Wondering why he's orange? The color of his fleece means it was a longer and more difficult labor. Meconium was passed during delivery, temporarily coloring the fleece.
Orange babies (and their mamas) have earned their stripes, as it were.
And needless to say this is the brightest orange babe we've ever seen around here. I think Pete has earned himself some stripes, too.
What a day! Welcome, Argo.
And bravo, Ruby. (And you, too, Pete.)