Friday, April 22, 2011

playing doctor

Tonight I played doctor. One of my coworkers asked me to help his neighbor with some new babies and I obliged. It just so happened that a pair of lambs were born in Sunderland Vermont (and they were quite the faux-miracle). I guess the four "wethers" the ewes were raised with—weren't. So this past weekend when my coworker Mike was watching his neighbor's farm (while the greenhorn farmers were on vacation), you can imagine his surprise when he realized the sheep population had doubled! The two Jacob ewes in the pasture were suddenly joined with two little splotched lambs. Not planning to breed until this fall, their shepherd was equally thrown off by the new arrivals. And so, with only one recent lambing season under my belt, I was asked to come give shots, band tails, check vital signs and help the new shepherd learn what I myself had just figured out.

...Kinda soon to become a mentor, but it seems to happen a lot out here. When my yearling's weak ram lamb needed to be tube fed out in the lambing jug this past March, I watched my friend Yasheva slowly feed him the plastic tube down his throat and wait for him to swallow it before she offered any colostrum. She needed to make sure it was going into his stomach and not his lungs, and explained calmly how she needed to feel him sucking before she squirted the sheep's first milk into him. I said, in awe, "Wow.... how many times have you had to do this with your goats?" Yasheva, ever the professional, replied, "I've never done this before, but I read about it. Seems to be working...." And that little ram lamb is hanging out with her goats right now, doing magnificently. Winging it is a rule of thumb.

So I took a note from her book, and acted like everything was under control and I had done this a million times (and not, you know, seven). I told him what to buy at Tractor Supply: from needles to CDT to antibiotics (just in case) and I told him I would bring my docker and ear tagger and help get these little ones ready for the big world.

When I pulled up to Rob's farm I parked the Dodge with Gibson, grabbed my wicker "Doctor's Basket" of needles, bands, dockers and meds and walked out to the barn to show him the ropes best I knew them. He was just as nervous as I was watching Yasheva do it the first time. I asked him to give the shot and he said "I better watch you do it, I didn't see before" which is exactly what I said when I was asked the first time! (I had five ewes to go through, so I did get my turn. She only accepted my excuse twice.) I checked the second ewe's (expecting any day now) udder and it was HUGE. New sheep were on the way. I acted as sure as possible, like I've been doing this for years.

I think he bought it.

The little Jacobs are doing well—and thanks to a poorly castrated ram—tonight, I became a lamb nurse.


Blogger karental said...


April 22, 2011 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger From the Country Farm said...

Wonderful job Jenna! Winging it is usually how anything ever gets done!

April 22, 2011 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger Stoney Creek Homestead said...

Good job Jenna! I remember the first time I tubed calves. I was real nervous, but the job needs to get done. I just kept telling myself to breathe, and you can do it. It is amazing what one can accomplish when little lives are on the line!!


April 22, 2011 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

"Watch once, do it once, teach it forever” the motto in EMT school over three decades ago still holds true in lots of situations--yours among them !~! Jolly good job, Jenna.

April 22, 2011 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Doctor? Your a farmer and that is what farmers do they take care of everything on the farm, even your neighbors. :-)

April 22, 2011 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger Nerissa said...

Great work!

Why do sheep need their tails docked? Is it a matter of being easily sheared?

April 23, 2011 at 12:43 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Doctors practice, farmers get it done. You're a farmer. The universe proved it to you tonight.

April 23, 2011 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger Copper + Cream said...

Nerissa- Sheep need to have their tails docked to keep their rear ends clean. Especially ewe's. If they get too caked with poop then it is a breeding ground for bacteria, prone to infection, and in bad cases...maggots. :( Also, it looks better and I am sure it is easier on the ewe when she needs to lamb. Hope this helped! ;)

April 23, 2011 at 1:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, funny thing about farming is - after the first time you do it, you're considered an "expert". Ha. You did good.

April 23, 2011 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

Wow, good for you!

April 23, 2011 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Just have to ask- why are you giving a newborn vaccinations? They will not work at this young age. CD and T should be given to pregnant ewes, and adult animals.
Sorry, just had to repeat what my guru has drilled into my head.

April 23, 2011 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Kelpie, that is what my vet told me to do. She is a large animal vet, and since we are docking tails and tagging ears, the lambs need an anti-tetanus shot since their parents did not get them. My sheep didn't get tetanus and neither did the surprise lambs' mamas. So this is simply what I was told to do by the large animal vet who specializes in goats and sheep.

I'm sure there are a thousand ways to do this, from a thousand experts, but I am basing it on what my neighboring farms and vet does? Does that help?

April 23, 2011 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Carol G said...

Sounds just like medical school. The first day you see something new done. The second time you do it. The third time you teach it to someone else, then you really have it down.

April 24, 2011 at 1:05 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Amazing!!! I bet all your mentors are so proud of you. And those surprised mama sheep are too. Happy easter Jenna

April 24, 2011 at 11:45 PM  
Blogger Donna Lovesthe Farm said...

Oooh, surprise babies are the best! They are like a special "free" gift! Congratulations on being the expert assistance!

April 25, 2011 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Well done!

I guess that was an unexpected blessing, eh? Congrats on your accomplishments, and also for being brave enough to do it even when you weren't shiningly confident in advance.

April 25, 2011 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Dancing shepherdess said...

Ah... I am surprised that the Scottie breeder did not vax her ewes... That would explain why you were doing that. If they had been vaxed, then you would be wasting your money on CD&T on the lambs, as the maternal antibodies would wipe out any value. Anti toxin (not cd&t) is typically used on lambs like yours and your friends, out of ewes with no pre/gestational cd&t vax.

April 26, 2011 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is hysterical! I was the one who helped him pick out the CDT & needles in the TSC in Bennington! You are, as always, an inspiration to homesteaders everywhere.

April 27, 2011 at 12:47 PM  

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