Back in April we had bought 4 Targhee sheep from Idaho. 2 ewes with their lambs. Well, we had quite a surprise. Marcie, the oldest of the ewes was pregnant. She wasn't supposed to be, but she was. The lamb she came with, Pepper, was only 4 months old and just weaned when they arrived. Poor mom...
I had noticed Marcie's udder was getting a bit swollen late in the summer and she seemed to be getting bigger. Wool growth makes them look bigger too, though. I decided to just keep an eye on her. The morning of August 29th, I went to feed and noticed Marcie out alone in the pasture. The rest of the herd was by the barn. Suspicious that my concerns may have been correct, I waded through the grass to the back of the pasture.
Sure enough, lamb! She was clean and dry and laying in a matted down clearing next to mom. But she was very thin, like she had been born a while ago and not eaten. I tried to get her to stand, but she didn't seem to have the coordination or strength to accomplish that. She needed more attention, so I brought her back closer to the barn and mom followed.
I brought her a bottle with some lamb formula in it thinking she just needed a little "juice" and she'd be fine. But, she couldn't straighten her legs all the way. She seemed all tied up in a ball. Mom knew that if she couldn't stand, she wouldn't live and kept walking a distance and calling to her, encouraging her to come. Little girl tried hard, but just couldn't get her legs under her.
I brought them into the barn and closed out the other animals. Babe needed colostrum, so I needed to milk Marcie. This wasn't fun for either of us. I can say with surety that Marcie had never been milked by a human before. I fed the lamb, who I had been calling a little nugget, colostrum throughout the day and kept the pair confined. My hope was that she would get a bit stronger and be able to keep up with the herd in a day or so.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Nugget is now a bottle baby and I am her adopted mom. In order to straighten her legs out, she required splints to stretch her out for about a week. She lived in the house for the first couple of days, then transferred to a "crib" we built in the barn at night. Now, she is in a larger pen with the other ladies that are not getting bred this year, including her mom.
It would have been nice to be able to give her back to her mother once she could walk well enough, but mom saw her as my job by then. She still sleeps with her, and mom is attentive when she calls, but her milk had begun to dry up and she wouldn't allow Nugget to feed. That's ok. I don't mind being mom to a precious little Nugget.
She is now nearly 4 weeks old and just as feisty as any month-old lamb. She walks well enough to keep up with the rest of the gang. Her legs will probably always be a little crooked, but it doesn't stop her from going full speed when she wants to.