Esther was lying in the snow Saturday morning. I shooed her to a clear patch of grass but she was still lying there in the afternoon. Saturday evening I put her in the lambing jug and she was still lying down when I went to bed.. Lying down all day is not normal sheep behavior neither is it typical lambing behavior. Something just did not seem right…. If only I could ask someone who knew sheep better than I but who to ask? My dad? Mr. Smalley? The vet? Alan Ormond? Everyone seemed pretty inaccessible in the wee hours of a Sabbath morn… Finally, about 4 a.m., I remembered the Internet and realized I could Google my questions...so I did.
I was right. Lying down is not typical lambing behavior. Ewes are antsy when they are about to lamb; they circle, paw the ground and may lie down but they do not stay down until birthing. And it lasts a couple hours, not 24. Something was wrong.
More research brought me to the sickening realization that Esther had pregnancy toxemia, the same condition that killed Big Mama and her unborn triplets a couple years ago. I found several sites, including a Merck Veterinary Manual, that described Esther’s condition to a T. My research also indicated that prompt treatment is critical. If caught early, there is a chance of survival, if left death is certain.
I called the vet at 6:00 a.m. and again at 7:00 a.m. At 7:30 he returned my call and, after apologizing for not answering earlier (he’d turned his ringer off the night before when in the movie theater with his family and had forgotten to turn it back on…), he invited me to bring her to his clinic.
I love my truck!! Lance, Chick and I loaded Esther into the back of the truck and were in the parking lot of the vet’s office within 20 minutes. Dr. Moss gave Esther 60 ml Cal-MPK 1080 orally and two intramuscular injections that would “cause her to lamb within 24 hours.” He sent us home with a gallon of propylene glycol, a liter of the Cal-MPK, and instructions to give them to her orally twice daily. (Doses were 60 ml and 20 ml respectively).
Grace, naturally, was distraught that Esther’s life was in peril so Lance drove to SLC to get her.
For the next 48 hours Grace and I medicated Esther 5x’s daily: early morning, midday, and night doses of 10 ml corn syrup and propylene glycol and Cal-MPK at breakfast and dinner time. She still had not lambed by late afternoon Monday so we gave her another injection of the labor inducing drug.
The chapter to this particular story has a happy ending. Esther had a single lamb sometime Tuesday night. Both mom and baby are healthy.
Friday morning I went out to check on the sheep and could not find Esther’s lamb. Not in the shed. Not in the straw outside the shed. Not in the corral. Panic started to set in. Where was that little lamb? We could not lose her now, not after all we’ve been through to get her here…
I found her snuggled in a ball in the manager. Whew! Relief and joy. And insight. There has been a Lamb before who was found lying in a manger….and that turned out well for everyone.