I went up the hill and got the other babies into the shed. As I got them and the Romney situated Split Ear's little ones ran up to me looking for a bottle. I knew I had better get one up the hill soon, since I doubted she was producing much milk at all. Worried about the ewe in the bathroom, I went back inside to gather some bottles and check on her, get some food into her. But when I went back into the bathroom just ten minutes later, she had passed away. She didn't make it. I sat with the small, lifeless, body for a short while. It was heartbreaking. Had I not fallen asleep, had it been a few days earlier, had it been just an hour earlier I got up...
I went back up the hillside to bottle feed, and when I went in the barn the Romney was gone. Shit. She had probably went back out into the fields to look for her third, which was dead in my bathroom. But her little ones were inside, trying to nurse from Split Ear, which is a losing game even if you are her offspring. I bottle fed Elijah and Shoshanna, Split Ear's little ones, and not sure when or where the Romney was I bottle fed the two surviving lambs who were under the heat lamp and strong as oxen. I didn't know if I was making two more bottle babies but I wasn't losing three lambs tonight. I fed them and then came back into the farmhouse to get the torch beam.
I wasn't dressed right. I had on tights, shearling slipper boots, a long-sleeved tee shirt and a cotton sweatshirt. The adrenaline of the lamb in the bathroom, the bottle needs of the newborns, the whole thing had distracted me from being cold but now I was very cold. I was also very tired.
It was time to go back up the hill and either get that Ewe back with her newborns or bring in the babies as house lambs, either way how cold and tired I was did not matter. The sacrifice lost to a few hours of sleep was already on the bathroom floor. I was too focused on the work to feel anything beside that hollow feeling of realistic loss. But in all of this, there was a sigh lamving season was over. Whatever happened next, there were no more lambs on the way.
Nine lambs total made it. Four rams, five ewes. One lost.
UPDATE 4AM: I am worried. The two newborns from the Romney that survived are in the barn, fed a bottle, under a heat lamp. But their mother will not let them nurse or even be by them. She is looking for the lost baby and sleeping where she gave birth. I tried walking out into the field with the babies and luring her back to the lamb's barn but she only stays a few moments and then leaves again. Trying to save that lamb may be the reason she is abandoning these two new ones. I didn't think the urge to find the lost lamb would overpower the need to care for the living ones. Before I bring them inside I am keeping them where she last saw them and hoping she returns to nurse them. Her bag is so big I worry if she doesn't, she'll get mastitis. I am heading back up there to give them a little more colostrum replacement and make sure they are okay.
UPDATE 2 4:30AM: I took the dead lamb outside to the field where the mother was looking, hoping that if she realizes it is gone for good she returns willingly to her survivors. Got the idea from Patty, who I was talking to on Facebook. She's in the hospital with her son, who is getting over a dangerous bout with the flu. She was able to think straight and I hope it works. I'll keep you guys posted. I am very tired but worried to go to sleep in case those little ones in limbo need me. They were just given warm colostrum replacer and are on fresh hay under the heat lamp. I'll go take a picture because it gets me back up there to check on the gang. The other five lambs from last night were all in a pile sleeping together.