Sometimes in birth, everything goes wrong.
It is quite dangerous to be a recipient of pictures from Lady Friend. While there is a good chance it will be an innocuous shot of lovely flowers or a nice meal she is enjoying at a fine restaurant, there is an equally good chance that it will be a sheep’s ass. I received this as a text:
The picture was accompanied by the message that the ewe named Mommy Dearest was starting labor. Mommy Dearest gave birth to Ke$ha last year, who as you all remember, was rejected at birth in favor of her brother and rammed away every time she tried to nurse. This led to her developing Stealth Lamb moves of sneaking up to nurse from behind, and consequently led to her being peed on so often that her wool turned a lemon yellow.
I didn’t find it a very promising sign that Mommy Dearest was the first ewe to be laboring in the flock. That seemed rather ominous. I also did not need to see that picture of her ass. (Nor did you, but there you go.) Because eight years in religious school has left me unable to deal with the mammalian process of birth, I sent back this as a rebuttal to Lady Friend:
That’s how it should be.
During lambing season, the sheep are checked on several times a day to see if anyone is standing apart from the herd and scanning the skies for storks. And just as Lady Friend arrived for the late evening check, Mommy Dearest delivered a dead lamb. It was a girl. Then she strained and strained, still in labor but making no progress, so Lady Friend saddled up with the Whole Arm Gloves and checked out her business.
Inside she found too many legs and a head all fighting for the exit at the same time. With a contraction a rear end was expelled, and beneath the rear end was the head belonging to yet another lamb. She gently pulled out the breech lamb, which was also a girl, and also dead. The mouth moved on the remaining lamb, still stuck in the chute. Lady Friend brought that one out, but it was no longer breathing.
She gave it mouth-to-mouth and swung it through the air, as one does with non-breathing lambs. Still slippery, the lamb squirted right out of her hands and landed in the hay. Then it gave a weak baa. It was a very small boy, who lay dazed in the hay as Lady Friend gave it some warm maple syrup and water to perk him up. She did not know if he was going to be brain-damaged from the traumatic birth, or from being dropped on his head. Then she milked the ewe for colostrum. Finally the baby rolled around and got himself up to nurse from the bottle.
Meanwhile, as the clock turned to midnight, Mommy Dearest engaged herself in not passing the placenta, possibly having uterine tears, and being in general misery. She received a dose of antibiotics and pain drugs. Lady Friend graduated the lamb from the bottle to the actual teat, with which he had no idea what to do. The night wore on with him still in bewilderment about where food comes from, and finally Lady Friend left for the night and hoped to find two living sheep in the lambing jug in the morning.
He was still alive when she got there at six. And so was Mommy Dearest. Not an energetic fellow, his lungs sounded froggy. That was not a good sign, yet he plugged on through the day and at last put together that the large creature in the stall with him was supplied with a food attachment. The next day his rear end was full of the craps, which is yet another bad sign. And still he plugged on, determined to live, and so did his mother. She (thankfully) developed no spite to him as she did with Ke$ha. All of her spite now goes to Lady Friend.
Now it is days later, and they have been released from the lambing jug. And while The Lamb Who Lived soldiers on with amazing physical resilience, his deficits have proved themselves in the mental department. He is a cheerful chap, and perfectly able to go about most of his lamb-y business, but he cannot differentiate his mother’s baa-aa from any other ewe’s baa-aa. This skill usually comes fairly swiftly to the little fellows, but it has not yet dawned on him. And so he spends his days running around the pasture like a toddler at every baa-aa wanting to know if it came from his mother, and his mother chases after baa-aaing that she is behind him. She is very tired by the end of the day.
We’ve named him Mensa.