Earning My Mid-Wife Badge

The Girl Scouts was as close as this suburban girl ever got to learning any kind of traditional skills growing up.  I quit it early on, considering ‘badge earning’ to be well beneath my expanding “cool kid” facade.

But if there’s a badge worth earning, midwifery would be up there with the loftiest of them.  I’m humbled and proud to say I got to experience it last night for the first time.

I bit of critical background:  I’m squeamish.  Considering we didn’t have children of our own and I didn’t have my own dog to take care of, let alone any pet previously to our dear Papi, at about age 42, it seems to me squeamishness pretty much comes with that territory. 

It’s because I was well aware of this personal limitation that I NEVER imagined we’d have so many animals.

Chickens, for us and many other clueless homesteaders, are the Gateway Livestock.  Then came ducks, turkeys, sheep, pigs, and more dogs.  But we both swear we’ll never get cows or horses.  (Ahem)

Considering my penchant for ‘Too Much Information’ I’ve now been acclimated to loads of poop, vomit, blood and morbid sounds of all sorts.  It also got me scared, very scared, about all that can go wrong with pets and livestock.  And how painful that is, and knowing this truth in advance is useless.  It does not help the pain by expecting it.  It does help though to be prepared.  So far I give us a C+ on that when it comes to the critters.

My TMI penchant leads also to so much online and in books about serious diseases and awful complications and the myriad very dirty deeds endemic in the farm life.  Talking to others more experienced will also always bring sad stories and sometimes tragic ones.

 Maybe I don’t quite deserve my badge just yet, but I’m fairly certain I saved our ewe and her young lamb last night by being at the right place at the right time and doing my usual C-level work.  🙂

When our ewes have lambed in the past I was not there to witness the actual event, only woke up to find the lambs delivered, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  On one occasion I found one mutilated by our young puppy and I had to kill it.  I cannot speak about this moment still today a year later without tears.  It was the most confusing, stressful, tragic, sorrowful day of my life.  Like most in the so-called advanced economies, we grew up very sheltered from death and from the act of killing.  Hubby would’ve handled it far better had he been home.  I was alone and a basket case.

I was alone again this time when Buttercup gave an unusual and very loud bark audible from inside the house that clued me in that something was going down.  I went to the stalls and saw mama was in labor.  I was determined to watch it all and learn. 

I was hoping and intending to remain a bystander to nature’s miracle.

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Take a bow, Buttercup!

As it happened I could tell something was wrong right away.  Then I doubted myself.  Then I went back and forth a dozen times, yes, no, yes, no.

Then I concluded, no, something’s really wrong here, get help.  Help?  Like from who?  I called two friends with more experience and they didn’t answer.  I looked through our book on sheep, panicky by that time.  I call Hubby.  He calls his folks and searches online while I pace waiting for the bread in the oven to finish so I can go back to the stalls. 

I muse, even in this stressed state: “Oh, we’re both waiting on buns in the oven.”  Yes, that’s how I cope with stress, and most things really, goofy humor.

It doesn’t occur to me again that the fetus that the ewe cannot seem to push out is in fact dead until hours later.  Yet, I felt it, even considered it immediately, instinctually at the very first moment I saw it.  I just tried to over-ride that feeling with too much doubt and reasoning and wishful thinking.  

On the phone with Hubby we decide there’s really nothing I can do alone in the dark with no experience and no equipment and no nearby vet.  Then he calls back and has changed his mind.  He urges me to go back out, put on some rubber gloves, and see if I can help her.

And he was right!  As soon as I touched the fetus it was obviously dead and my foolishness at waiting hours to “realize” this washed over me.  I strained, along with mama to get it out, knowing if not she would surely die as well. 

At last it came free, followed by another smaller, but wonderfully alive little treasure!

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We did it!

I’m happy to report as of this writing about 16 hours later, mama and babe are doing well, eating and drinking and getting to know each other.

Yes, I was alone, but really, it was very much a team effort.  Thanks y’all!

 

Author: KenshoHomestead

Creatively working toward self-sufficiency on the land.

7 thoughts on “Earning My Mid-Wife Badge”

  1. well done!! you have successfully passed your homestead initiation and you get an A+ in my books! we lost a goat last year due to a breach baby we didn’t know was in there. by the time we did realize it the mama died. Homestead life brings all life has to offer and more. every experience life has to offer will be found on the homestead. You did fantastic. Saved a life. a little miracle sheep. What you just went through is the hardest part of the hobby farm. The life and the death! Thank you for sharing your trial with us! The one thing we have learned is that a Vet is most often not available when you need one. We had to learn to do it ourselves. Even to humane euthanasia like you had to do…and yes it does hurt us every time. Congratulations on your victory!!

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  2. A drop in the bucket….not hardly!! that is the biggest…hardest thing to do!! definitely crucial very true and you rose to the occasion admirably. you saved two lives! one loss and two saves….that is what it is all about…homesteading brings you much closer to life and death. success and failure. you get to see what others never will see! a new born lamb and its mama…and you helped it…that is an experience that 99% will never know. and one that is hard to describe….

    you had a set back and a major victory all at the same time!! the fear and the joy! best of all you experienced it. corporate farms and their heartless employees never do. they see all livestock as pieces of wood or a commodity with no feelings, no life. they are the losers and they miss out completely on the experience. i know exactly what your feeling then and now…..and can relive it through your story. it is awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all the support and kindness! You are so right about the fear and the joy and it’s crazy really when you think how far we’ve drifted from nature in our culture. I guess I say ‘drop in the bucket not to minimize the experience, but in considering how typical such an experience would’ve been a century ago, probably most folks would’ve found it almost commonplace. Being in awe of nature is such a profound and expansive feeling and I bet a big part of the reason depression and disease are so prevalent is directly related to being so separated from these kinds of feelings on a regular basis.

      I was listening to a Michael Tsarion presentation The Post Human World (truly excellent if you get a chance) that describes this so well, from Freud and TS Elliott and others — oceanic and esthetic experiences create the feeling of wholeness and ‘Allness’ folks need to be happy, ‘the Great Littleness’ is not submersion into the collective as ‘the Powers’ are pushing today, it is the feeling of ‘littleness in a vast sense’. Awe and humility. “At the still point, there the dance is.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. thank you i will listen to it…i really like michael tsarion. your also right about losing touch with nature. 100 years ago it was indeed an every day thing. people had their own family doctor…usually their granny… until it was outlawed by the AMA…then we lost the ability to take care of ourselves and our animals. i bet that is correct on depression. absolutely true. instead of drugging it. people get back to nature they might find they are not so depressed anymore

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  3. I once had to kill some baby rabbits that my dog had found & severely maimed. It was a traumatic event for me but like you, no one else was around & the babies were screaming in pain. We once had a lamb die after being born while his twin was just fine. There just doesn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason for some things. I think you handled a tough first time situation in an admirable way & being alone must have been hard. Hope all the rest deliver their babies all by themselves when you’re not looking however that mom & 2nd baby probably would never have survived without you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great job! I am so very happy that for the past three years all of our ewes have been very good at having their babies with little to no interaction from us. Baby lambs are beautiful creatures!

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