Late Night Lambing

By Emma Morris
8th Grade, Siskiyou County
Scott Valley Junior High School - Tracy Dickinson, Teacher

I shoved my foot into my boot and tucked in my jeans. Grabbing my coat from the hook, I slipped through the door behind my dad. I gasped as I drank in the freezing morning air. It must have snowed in the few hours I was asleep because the ground was blanketed with a thin, white sheet. I stood there for a second, awed by the beauty of it all, and then slipped my coat on and ran to catch up with dad.

"Hey," said Dad, "It's beautiful huh? But this is terrible weather to lamb in, so we better go check on the ewes."

"Okay, I hope there are more babies!" I said excitedly.

We walked through the gate and into the frosty field. Most of the sheep were sleeping, but one was standing by itself. "Dad," I said, "over there."

"Yeah, let's go check it out." We walked over to the ewe and found she had three babies on the ground next to her. They were shivering violently so I bent down and put my finger in one's mouth to check its temperature… cold, not a good sign.

"Em," said Dad softly, "Grab a lamb and help me coax this ewe into the barn."

"Okay," I replied, picking up one of the babies gently. It took us about 10 minutes to get the ewe into the barn, and once we were in I set the lamb down on the soft, clean straw. The baby grunted quietly, still shivering.

"Emma," said Dad, "Plug in the hairdryer and start trying to warm these little guys up." I nodded and grabbed the battered hairdryer we use to warm up the lambs. I picked up the babies and set them together on a warm towel, and proceeded to blow hot air on their shaking bodies. After about 10 minutes, they started to warm up and tried to stand on their wobbly legs. "They're warm Dad," I said.

"Okay," he said, "Let's get them some starter fluid." "Starter Fluid" was Dad's name for some protein supplement we give lambs to get their blood flowing. I grabbed the bottle from the shelf, and squirted the thick substance into their mouths. They gulped it down, and continued trying to stand up.

"You're going to have to pick one to take inside," said Dad, "This ewe can't take care of three babies herself." I studied the babies. Two of them had stood up and were trying to get milk from their mom. The third was still struggling.

"I guess it's going to be that one," I sighed.

"I agree," said Dad, "Why don't you take him in, and warm up some milk. He's going to need something in its stomach before too long. I'll handle the rest of this."

"Okay," I said picking up the baby and wrapping it in a towel. I carried the lamb across the yard, and then into the house. The warmth hit me and made my cheeks burn. I set the baby down in a box we had ready-made for occasions like this one. The box had fresh towels and a hot water bottle. Then I walked over to the sink to get some milk ready. First I grabbed the powder from the cupboard, and a big jug from the dishwasher. Then I put the powder in the jug, added some hot water, and poured some into a 2-liter soda bottle we use to feed the babies. I put a rubber tip on the bottle, and walked over to the box where the lamb was bleating hungrily.

I picked him up, and used my thumb and index fingers to pry open his mouth. He caught on right away, and started sucking happily, and was soon done with the whole bottle. Dad walked in right then, carrying dirty towels in his hands. He smiled and looked at the empty bottle. "Someone was hungry, huh?"

"Yeah," I replied, rubbing my eyes sleepily.

"Okay," he said, "why don't you go back to bed? Thanks for your help, kid."

"You're welcome," I said standing up and walking towards my room. I barely had time to kick off my shoes before I collapsed on my bed, exhaustion taking over my body. Knowing how important saving those babies was to the welfare of the ranch was comforting, and with that thought in mind I rolled over and was asleep in a matter of seconds.