The late night visit from the vet felt like a scene straight from a James Herriot book, only with slightly more technology - and antibiotics. Even the vet admitted he'd been thinking about James Herriot while driving out here, as he read over the directions I'd given him and realized just how far out into the country he was headed.
In the 13 years I've been raising sheep, I've never had to have a vet come to the farm. This was the third one I'd tried to get a hold of. I explained the situation and asked if he could drive over.
"You can't bring her down to the clinic?"
"It's gonna be expensive."
"I know." It's Cary.
Bear and I watched his headlights make their way down the switchbacks on the driveway and listened to the distant sound of his truck. When he got out he smiled and said, "This is the kind of place you move to when you don't want anybody to find you!" Then he looked around the darkness. "You're out here by yourself?"
"Tonight I am." And I led him into the barn.
Cary didn't have twins as I'd thought she might. That swollen belly of hers was full of one enormous baby, and it was very stuck. The normal position for a lamb about to be born is right side up, both hooves headed out, nose between the hooves. This one had one leg back, and its nose was pointed down. I've never had this happen. I talked to a friend who has more lambing experience than I do. She told me what to do. I tried and tried, but I couldn't do it. I needed help. Cary needed help.
The first priority is to save the mother. We lost the baby - a 15-pound (!!) black boy - but we saved Cary. She's expected to make a full recovery, and was up and nibbling on hay not long after the exhausting ordeal was over. I sat with her for a while in the little bonding suite after the vet had driven back out into the night, my forehead resting against her side, my hand stroking her neck. She didn't have anyone else to bond to. I didn't want to leave her.
I'm sure Cary would have been a wonderful mother, and I'm hopeful that one day she will be. But no matter what happens, she'll always be my baby. As the vet was packing up his things, I told him Cary's story. This morning when I came out of the Treat Room holding a little bucket of grain, she bumped her nose into my thigh like she used to do whenever she wanted her bottle of milk. She hasn't done that in over a year.
This is a short version of the story because I'm headed off the farm and won't be back until late tonight. But I knew many of you Cary fans would be anxiously waiting for an update. I'd been really worried that she would go into labor while I was gone today, and now I know that if she had we probably would have lost her. I'm so very grateful that we didn't.
Lambing Season 2008 has officially begun, and considering that we had seven lambs born in the first 24 hours of lambing season last year, I'm sure the next several days are going to be even chaotic than usual around here. You know I'll keep you posted.
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