Living on the farm has brought me a lot closer to the cycles of birth and death. I get it. You can’t have one with out the other.
Rabbits almost always give birth at night. I’ve find the babies the next morning but never have I seen the actual birthing process. I’ve only seen a rabbit nurse twice. Rabbits keep things on the down low.
The last few days have been interesting. Joel and I bit the bullet and bought a very nice incubator. It is mostly full with orders and working on paying for itself. I’ve seen broody hens hatch a clutch of eggs before but so much happens under the hen that you can’t get a good look at. One day they have eggs and the next day they have chicks. Watching the chicks hatch in the incubator is very different, and very cool. The chicks make the tiniest hole in the shell and from there, they slowly crack it open. After a time they heave the shell away from themselves and lay panting from exertion. They let out a few peep peeps and then fall asleep. At first they are still wet from the fluid of the egg but they dry quickly. When removed from the incubator they lay under the brooder light, basking in the heat and drying their feathers. Within hours they are moving around. They sleep with legs akimbo, sprawled out like a dead thing. They wake up briefly to eat, to drink, to wander and to peep. Then they sleep like the dead.
I’ve been thinking about those chicks all day. Thinking how amazing it is that they battle their way out of the eggs and the weak just don’t make it.
Today I was on my way out to the sheep pen. I grabbed my camera, like I have for the last week, in anticipation of lambs and saw the battery was dead. I put it on the charger and thought to myself “Now there surely will be lambs.” Sure enough, my beautiful Comfrey was in labor when I entered the sheep pen. The head of the first lamb was out with no sign of the feet. I freaked out, worried it was an abnormal presentation I was going to have to deal with. I called my sheep vet: he was on vacation. I called another large animal vet: they were out on other house calls. I called a fellow breeder and she talked me through some things. I called my awesome friend Amanda who is a vet and she said she could come over. I took deep breaths. I went back outside to see how Comfrey was doing and low and behold she had a beautiful ram lamb at her side. I sighed a million sighs of relief. As Joel and I looked on, another lamb, this one a ewe lamb, came into the world. Comfrey made it look effortless. Comfrey got to work immediately licking them both dry. Joel and I ducked in quickly to dip their umbilical chords in iodine, check their sex, and bask in their beauty. Within twenty minutes they were drinking milk.
Joel and I worked out an agreement. He names the ram lambs, I name the ewe lambs.
William T. Riker is the ram lamb. He is all black except for a white patch over his left eye, and a small patch of white on his left ear. He might have some white hairs in his wool, but otherwise he appears to be jet black. Fingers crossed for polled, but I think I might see horns. It is quite possible this guy could be our herd sire.
Katniss is the ewe lamb. She is also black, with a white facial pattern. I love her so much I can barely breathe.
Comfrey is currently rooing, so she looks a bit raggedy. Give her a break, she is a bad-ass.