In the week preceding the lambs' birth, Daniel said to me one evening after chores, "I think Charlotte is pregnant." Sigh. I answer, "I know. I think so too".
Last Autumn we kept our ram Phineas separated from our two ewes for over a month, thinking we had our timing right. Then in mid November, right after Soren was born, we put them all back together, and for the time being had a little less attention to devote to animal husbandry.
Fast forward five months later. All the sheep were looking rather round in their wooly winter coats, but Charlotte was looking particularly voluptuous. Then this: she was spending more time resting under the trees and in the barn than grazing in the pasture with the rest of the flock. It has been our experience that this behavior is either a sign of illness or impending labor.
Early last Saturday morning, Daniel noticed Charlotte was in the sheep barn by herself. He managed to close the barn gate, give Charlotte some fresh hay and water, then had to leave for work. I decide soon after, feeling a small sense of urgency, to check on her. At this point it is raining, and cold! (Just the day before it was sunny and we were barefoot. Oh, April for you!) Undaunted by the weather Viggo goes off to play, and I with Soren in the carrier, head to the barn.
Charlotte is backed into a corner, and that is about it. I wait. She tries to lay down, but can't seem to get comfortable and gets back up. I begin to notice a subtle contraction around her rump, just for a second, then it is gone. Over the course of the next fifteen minutes it happens a few more times, but is so subtle I wonder if I'm imagining it. At this point I notice Viggo is playing in the compost and have to leave the barn to redirect his play. Ahem. Back to the barn, I see a contraction that makes me a believer. I send my husband a text: Charlotte is in labor. Come home.
I am not sure how quickly things will happen, or if she will need help. Last year, Charlotte had difficulty birthing her second lamb, and I wanted to be ready should she need assistance.
About an hour later, Daniel is home. We discuss Charlotte at the barn gate, who is still laboring, though certainly not in active labor. It is agreed that Daniel will stay with the boys while I stay in the barn. However, I must first head inside to nurse Soren. When we head back out the rain has stopped, and as I approach the barn, I notice a wet little lamb on the straw, then another. Twins! Just born, trying to find their feet and Charlotte licking them clean.
This is Charlotte's third birth at our homestead, and every time, she is an incredibly attentive mother. I am so grateful for that! The lambs, named Lucy and Edith, are both ewes and doing well. We made a temporary run outside the barn for the three of them until the lambs are big enough to join the rest of the flock.
They are so delightful, and I am truly glad they are here. What a very happy surprise!