One of Our Homesteads' Newest Babies
The arrival of any baby is always filled with excitement, anticipation and some amount of trepidation. There is a flurry of activity, and then hopefully a new kind of quiet settles in as everyone adjusts to the new addition. This rings true even when the baby is not of the human variety. Earlier this year our little hobby farm welcomed the addition of twins. While we were thrilled to see these beauties join us, momma ewe could not have picked a colder day to deliver her little ones.
While keeping a vigilant eye on the thermometer, we set up a heat lamp and encouraged them to get that all important first 24 hours of nutrients from suckling on mom. As the mercury dropped, we realized that they were struggling to maintain their core temperatures after the shock of being plunged into a cold world from the warm safety of their mom’s belly. Seeking to keep them with their mother as long as possible, we cut the tail area and belly from old baby pajamas and bundled them in little adjustable dog coats to keep our sweetly named “Cookie” and “Biscuit” warm. Unfortunately, even the addition of the fuzzy layers didn’t hold out the cold of the night and as the temperatures plunged below -20C, we had to separate our new family.
The twins had become hypothermic, their mouths cold and without sucking reflex. At around 2 am, I rushed them inside to a sink full of very warm water and syringes full of hot sugar water to warm them inside and out. After a tense hour or so of rubbing their soft woolly bodies in the hot water to stimulate circulation, they began to perk up slowly and we carefully dried their limp bodies and transferred them to warm, dry towels and heating pads. With an awkward bundle of what seemed to be all skinny legs and bony knees in my arms, I leaned back in my chair, holding them, the heating pad and a warm blanket and tried to close my eyes for a bit of sleep, ever listening for their breath and hoping they continue to warm up.
The life of any newborn is terribly fragile and can change moment to moment. Their tiny bodies go through so much in the first hours of life and they face huge challenges that we forget until we hold their little bodies in our arms and pray for them to keep breathing, to keep living. On that night, we were blessed, not only with two beautiful, soft babies, but that they survived what could easily have been their one and only night.
Cookie and Biscuit beat the odds on that frigid January night, with a lot of help from their farm family. Sadly though, their mother decided that after all the intervention, her babies no longer had the special newborn smell that binds babies to their mother. After the temperatures rose enough to reintroduce the babies two days later, she rejected their cries and was unable to recognize them as her own. As heartbreaking as it was to take the babies from their mom, and later to see them cry for her only to be met with stares that seemed to have only vague memories of who they were, I am grateful they survived their ordeal.
Our farm has a funny way of adjusting to whatever life throws at it. We learn and adapt as we go along, and more obstacles that appear will be overcome. The lambs are thriving and growing, as cute, noisy and curious as they should be. They bounce all over and have found themselves a new “mom” who accepts them, licks them clean, cuddles up with them and keeps a watchful eye on everyone. It’s hard to know what exactly Ymir, our Great Pyrenees, thinks of them, but maybe as a rescue himself, he can identify somewhat with the feeling of being displaced and unwanted. It seems to be a distant memory for all now, with each finding their new place; accepted, wanted and loved. Life goes on, we are all family here, no matter the wool, hair, feathers, fur, hooves or paws, and we all take care of each other.
May God bless you and your families,
One of our Good2GoCo Family Farms