Monday, February 02, 2009

Blossom is Awesome!

Meet Blossom, our little ewe, who is one of triplets born to Helena, a first-time mom, on January 23rd. The morning she and her two brothers were born, it was 23 degrees. They were inside the barn, but it’s not all that much warmer in there.

When I got out to the barn in the morning, Helena had *just* delivered her triplets and was busily cleaning them up. It appeared that Blossom had been born first, and Helena, being very busy giving birth to lambs #2 & #3 hadn’t gotten around to cleaning her up & getting her moving as would normally have been the case. Certainly, three lambs is a lot to look after, especially for a first-timer.

Little Blossom was cold and covered in amniotic fluid, and although she was breathing, she was less active than the two little rams, who were just beginning to get up. I called Doug from the barn & he brought out a large bucket of warm water & a plastic bag. Blossom went into the bag, and I floated her in the warm water, as we attempted to get her body temperature up. Doug needed to go to work so I phoned BFF Janice, who came to assist. FYI, the plastic bag allows the scent of the amniotic fluid to remain on the little lamb, so that when mom smells her, she realizes it’s her lamb.

Three buckets of water later, we still weren’t having much success getting her warmed up in the barn, so we took her into the house. The laundry room has a deep sink, so I filled that with warm water & dispensed with the plastic bag. We had gotten a few “Maaaa’s” from her, and she was breathing better so things started looking hopeful. We got her temp up to 102 (normal for sheep), and began feeding her. I was able to get some colostrum from Helena, and the little tyke did okay with the bottle.

When things began to calm down, Blossom settled down on the floor with my dog, Shaela, a very experienced mom from the looks of things. (We adoped Shaela last spring & don’t know much about her background.) Shaela took Blossom as her puppy, and licked her from nose to tail, got her standing up & moving around. I could see the concern in Shaela’s face (Boxers are incredibly expressive) as she worked diligently to get that baby going. Blosson, for her part, showed us a determination & strength that gave us hope for her survival.

It was later that afternoon that Blossom began breathing very fast & panting like an overheated dog. She felt very warm as Janice held her in her lap. We decided that a trip to the vet to evaluate the respiratory distress would be a good idea. At the vet’s office, Blossom’s temp was 108.6. Blossom received alcohol baths to cool her down, and we went ahead with antibiotics & IV Banamine, an anti-inflammatory. I decided to begin gavage feedings at home to see if we could allow her some time to clear up what we figured was aspiration pneumonia. We came home with a gavage tube. Once home, her temp registered 109.5 & we again put her in the sink, but this time to cool her down rather than warm her up. I began gavaging Pedialyte, because I knew that she would have lost fluids with the high fever. Eventually she was back on colostrum, which I milked from Helena (who, by the way, was less than enthusiastic about that activity).

It’s been over a week now, and I have to say that at every turn, Blossom has showed us her determination to survive. She has had her setbacks & more trips to the vet, but at this writing, she is able to take bottles of milk replacer, and spends her time toddling around the house in a diaper, following me and/or Shaela, and generally exploring. We’ve taken her out to the barn for visits with her sheep family, but it’s a bit cold out there for her right now & she is under “doctor’s orders” to not subject her to temperature stress. She starts wheezing like a little asthmatic with stress, and then has difficulty eating. She’s almost up to eight pounds now.

There will be a time that she can join her flock, but it’s not going to be this week. Maybe not next week. But we’ll allow her to grow & gain weight as a house lamb for now. In the meantime, the two little rams are thriving in the barn under their Mom’s care, along with the other moms & their little cousins. We hold onto the hope that Blossom will be able to go out there & enjoy the pasture with her family eventually.


Blogger Leigh said...

Great post! Would have really kept me on the edge of my seat except for the title. I didn't think she'd be awesome if she didn't make it. Sounds like you've put on the shepherd's role very well.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Paige said...

Your hubby sent me to your blog after my many questions about Blossom's health. Thank you for sharing!

Kendra Cook

5:14 PM  
Blogger inSheepsClothing said...

So how is little Blossom doing?
Hope all is well and she's gaining strength with each passing day--


6:52 PM  

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