Life is full of surprises-none more so than the day we received a welcome donation from a friend,Katherine. Then an hour later made an unexpected discovery-The tiniest newborn lamb we had ever seen.
Lying on straw amongst sheep milling to be let out we had no idea who her mother was or where she was. Then a tiny sheep who had arrived days earlier pushed her way to the lamb and stood staring at her
The ewe had been found wandering down a lane with no identification or ear tags. No one claimed her and so she was brought to us .Thin and
frail when we examined her there was no indication that she was in lamb.
She looked as surprised as we were as she stared at the tiny baby and then marched off.
Picking up the tiny newcomer we herded her reluctant mother into a pen. Her teats were swollen but no milk was being expelled. Time after time we tried to get her to bond with her baby who was getting colder and weaker. But she wasn't interested.
It is vital that newborn lambs have colostrum in the first 24 hours. The thick yellow milk is full of vitamins,protein and antibodies to fight of
infections like diarrhoea and pneumonia. Without it they may not survive.
We took the tiny lamb into the house ,wrapped her up in a woolly jumper and put her under a lamp to raise her temperature. While I looked after her Jo went back to the ewe to try to get her to let down some precious colostrum. Thankfully with perseverance she managed to expel enough and using a syringe persuaded the lamb to take some.
She was installed with me that night on the settee in front of a roaring open fire so that I could keep her warm and feed her at regular intervals.
Wilma my Basset was intrigued and took up her position on the end of the settee and the three of us settled down for the night.
I held the tiny lamb in my arms as she settled her head on the pillow. “You'll have to have a name.” I told her as she drifted off to sleep.
Looking back on the events of the day I remembered the donation which had arrived that morning from Katherine.
“We'll call you Katherine-or better still Kathy” I whispered to the sleeping innocent as she nuzzled against me.
She survived the night but by morning her breathing was laboured. A visit to our vets was needed. Senior vet Alun Edwards at Clent Hills Vets in Bromsgrove examined her. She had developed slight pneumonia .
He was amazed how tiny she was and that she had survived. She weighed only one kilo. We came away with antibiotics and he wished us luck. The combination of the two did the trick.
Kathy started to drink from a bottle. She and another orphan, Trixie have bonded and they both still stay in the house overnight sleeping in a dog crate at the side of my bed.
Well, I'm her mother now and that's what mothers' do!