Yesterday we had the chance to see something amazing: one life turned into four. On a farm in Dayton, WA we happened upon a ewe, recently pregnant with triplets, who had easily delivered one female lamb, and then got stuck with two more babies inside her, tangled up, unable to be born. It looked like certain death for all three of them. The vet was called, but in a hopeless sort of way.
The little lamb who had made it safely into the world clung closely to her mother, who looked pretty much resigned to her terrible fate. The baby didn’t even cry much, just snuggled up tight, trying to help with her comforting, four hour old presence.
The vet got right in there. “I feel two legs, now three, oh, here’s a head, but does this head go with these three legs? Now I’ve got four legs, nope, one seems not to go with this head.” For us city mice it was a thrilling exercise. He pulled and tugged and groped and seemed optimistic
even when the first baby ram emerged with a blue tongue sticking out of his mouth, looking deader than a doornail. The vet gave him a good swing to get oxygen to his brain, tossed him on the straw, and started to work on the remaining stuck baby. The little ram moved a bit, blinked, we all gasped. The mood lightened. All we had really hoped for was that the vet would be able to save the ewe’s life, so that her first baby would have a mother. Now there were two babies, and maybe even a third, and it looked like the mother would live to raise them.
Finally the third baby was tugged out into the world, another little ram. We all rejoiced, tears were shed, it seemed like a miracle. Life is so precarious, and the will to live is so strong. We were in awe, but the sheep acted like it was no big deal, happens all the time, life goes on. We saw the lambs take their first steps, less than an hour later. Comme si de rien n’était, as you say in French, as if nothing at all had happened. But we knew, something big had happened, something special, and we had been a tiny part of it. Life began.
*All of these amazing photographs were taken by Shel.