Friday, 17 April 2009

Childbirth and Sheep Farms

Why on earth is it that we, as human species Mothers, have such a hard time during childbirth? Ok, so I know that there's the select few who 'claim' not to know they're pregnant until they go to the loo one day and find a head sticking out from between their legs, or those who have a slight niggling backache and then just 'pop' the baby out. I can safely say I wasn't one of those women. (Let me confirm that for you in Labour Day Part 1). Were you? I don't want to know.

Now the reason for asking this was prompted by my trip today, with the two girls, to a sheep farm. Despite waking up this morning to storm clouds and more than just a drizzle, the trip had been planned for at least a month and as much as I welcome any excuse to stay inside and chain drink cups of tea, there's only a couple of days left of the lambing season and this was our last chance to witness a lamb being born. So as a threesome (husband is away again - don't ask), we braved the rain, donned our wellies, hooked up with some friends and ventured out to the back of beyond (otherwise known as Coombe Farm).

I can't tell you how excited the girls were. Ok, I'll try. Renée was whooping with joy and Edie was grinning inanely from ear to ear. Get the picture? Too, too cute. And despite Edie's irrational fear of absolutely all animals, which surfaced every now and then as a whimper, even she managed to have fun. They stroked and cuddled the lambs and generally frolicked about having a good time. In fact, if I think about it too much I may well up because it was truly beautiful. Call me a softie.

But gorgeous children and fluffy lambs aside, what I really wanted to see was the actual birth of a lamb. I don't think the girls were that bothered (actually I think Edie would have become slightly hysterical), but for me, it was the holy grail. So what do you do on a sheep farm when you want to see lambs being born? I'll tell you what you do. You go and study the back end of every ewe that doesn't already have a lamb. Ha. You see - in just one morning I've become an expert (yes I know CJ - I'll be taking your job soon). So while the children wouldn't leave the cosy embrace of the lambs, my friend and I wouldn't leave the ewes' bottoms. And I can tell you this - they were not a pretty sight. Swollen, bloody, pooey even...all with bits hanging out...and mangey bits of wool hanging was strangely reminiscent of my own labour. But back to the point. Not one of the ewes looked to be in pain. Lambs were literally dropping out. Ok, so I didn't actually witness a birth (and don't speak to me about it because I'm devastated), but I might as well have done. There was one ewe in particular who was walking around with legs sticking out of her bottom. Well I assumed they were legs. What they actually looked like were two white hot pokers encased in rather slimy cellophane. And this went on for at least an hour. And I know this because I was there the whole sodding time. Unfortunately, I never managed to see the rest of the lamb, but what I did have the pleasure of witnessing was the passing of a few sacs of afterbirth, which I am still struggling to eradicate from my mind.

But just to wrap this all up. There was no pain. Plenty of blood. But no pain. A few bleats and a bit of panting and then a baby lamb is born. Why can't that be us? Oh I know. Maybe we'd all try to have too many babies and overpopulate the world with snivelling snotty monsters. That's it isn't it? A painful childbirth is there to stop us being too hasty in our procreation. I have to say, after my first labour I did swear to my husband (and there was a bit of swearing at him as well) that I would never go through that again. But here I am, two babies down and another on the way. ONLY JOKING. Do you think I'm that crazy?? Please. The sheep can give birth to as many lambs as they can manage, but I'm happy just with two.


  1. And MatTa, the births of sheep are not without their own traumas - Check out Crystal Jigsaw's blog if you are not squeamish, for the real Farmer's Wife's backstory on lambing...

    I don't think theirs is without pain, nor without trauma, for the lambs are removed several months after, and I live next to a farmer's field, and the crying of the sheep for their lost lambs goes on for days...

    No-one tells you this at Sainsbury's...

    Your blog is always beautifully written, by the way...

  2. I'm making a mental note ... NEVER visit a sheep farm during lambing season. When my first slipped out of me, the doctor said "Look, have a look! I shook my head and mouthed, "No, thanks." They sat me up anyway and I saw him for the first time. Beautiful but I'll pass on other birthing scenes, thanks. This post was descriptive enough.

    I agree with Of No Importance, you write beautifully.

  3. First, that's for dropping by my spot for a visit.

    Second, among us bears, the cubs are born while we're hibernating. Imagine, having children when you're sleeping and hardly waking up!

    And as the others have already said, you do write beautifully. Please keep it up.

  4. Seriously, it's not fair at all is it? Our goats were the same - a few bleats and pants but nothing terrible and they'd have three at a time - by the time the third one was poking out they were too busy nuzzling the first two to even notice.

  5. Hey MT, what a great day out for you all - in a wholesome Mother Nature kind of a way.

    After your prompt, I read your Labour Day Part 1 post and after searching your following posts, cannot for the life of me find Labour Day - The Happy Ending or The Finale or even Labour Day Part 2. So for all us mothers who've had similarly gruesome experiences (mine like yours was a 3 day labour, lots of pain no dilation but I know the ending - emergency Caesarean. Twice). I'm begging you....come one, tell us what happened???

  6. WoNI - Yes, yes. Maybe I was a little hard on the poor sheep. I suppose I just felt a little jealous that they weren't in agony for 36 hours. Not that I would wish that on anyone!! Ooh I don't like the sound of the crying sheep. How horrible. I didn't know that. But of course I do know Crystal's blog -and I'm loving her accounts of the lambing... did you see - she even got a name check in mine? And thank you for popping by darling Fhina. I will be over soon x

  7. Whoops managed to post that without commenting on the others. Got a bit carried away.

    SAHM-I-AM - It may have sounded gruesome, but it was beautiful really. I'm definitely going next year. In fact I was so upset that I missed a birth that I was considering going again today. But I don't think I can cope with the mud for two days in a row. Blood no problem. Mud problem. Don't let me put you off...

    Rob-bear - Ooh thanks for stopping by. I think Edie would be scared of you, but if I don't show her your photo she may be ok. Crikey giving birth whilst hibernating (jealous again). I didn't know that either. I just love learning things before breakfast. It sets me up for the day. Now if nothing else happens at least I can say that I know more than I did yesterday. Fantastic.

    Sparx - my point exactly!! :-))

    Mamma Po - yeah it was a great day. Can't work out if the grown-ups had more fun than the children! And as for labour Day Part 1 - it was written about 4 days into my blogging when I was firing on all cylinders, blogging everyday and I didn't think twice about setting myself up for a post the following day. Think something happened the next day (can't remember what) and I was too exhausted to write about it. Kept thinking I would, but for some reason I have a block on it (can't think why)?? And now I have more followers I'm a bit shy. Not sure if anyone wants the rest of my labour story really. BUT, I was considering finishing it last night after seeing the sheep...maybe soon! BTW, there was a happy ending...

  8. It sounds like a lovely day (minus the rain and the birthing part--LOL)! I didn't know there were place you could go to cuddle lambs!

  9. Whwn I was little I thought that you just had to cough and the baby would be born, no effort involved...I wish,

    Thoroughly enjoyable post,


  10. Yes you need to go visit Crystal Jigsaw i was just thinking the same thing. Love Coombe Farm, love lambs. I have loads of pictures of them on my camera from the lake district, I get very excited over lambs, even my son thinks it's cute how happy they make me!

  11. Just a Plane ride - It was great. When my girlies are happy all is good in the world. And yeah, there was a special pen with 'pet' lambs in for the children to cuddle. Perfect.

    Lilylee - Wasn't it?!!

    Not Waving - I don't know what I used to think about childbirth - probably that I'd be fine and that it wouldn't hurt that much! Hah. What a fool. Btw, please keep blogging x

    Reasons - Yes, yes I do follow Crystal's blog. I'm hoping she'll pop along to give me her viewpoint soon. And I did read about the lambs was very sad :-((

  12. i love farm visits and so do my girls, i last went to tatton farm and they had 2day old piglets, they had a piglet boom and nearly every sow had a litter! so cute! i agree with the lack of pain, whenever i watch a nature programme i always say to my husband 'why can't we deliver our children like that' (well apart from the fields and all that lol!)

  13. A new lover of your blog. My mother is like a sheep,and goes on about how "you young girls just don't know HOW to do it anymore!". As the older sibling, I appeared in one hour, my little sister was almost born in the hospital lift, a horrifyingly smug 20 mins. After my 50 hr trip to hell and back (sustaining permanent nerve damage to my nethers, eeek) I'll be going through a cesarean in 5 months time,could have snogged the doctor that insisted I needed one.....looking forward to sinking my teeth into your labour story, it seems pregnant ladies have a bit of a wrong obsession with frightening themselves to death....

  14. Amy - yeah it's such a treat for children to spend time with animals like that if they don't do it all the time. What surprised me was just how much fun I had!

    Allgrownup - aaah thank you! I may even be blushing now. Crikey - your Mum. Lucky cow! Poor you though. Sounds hideous. Thought my 36 hours was bad. Yep, think a cesarean is a good option for your second...

  15. Sounds like a lovely day. We should really see if there are any farms round here to visit, though I'm not sure how much I'd want to witness the lambs being born! Am fairly certain Rosemary would be similarly enraptured by the experience.

  16. What a lovely experience. My wife, Peggy is a labor and delivery nurse--as they're called in the States--but never had a child of her own. She never tires of seeing birth though.

    I know two of your followers (Rob-Bear and Reasons-to-be-Cheerful). Sometimes, it's easy to think that blogging is a small world, like a village, but i know that it is not. It is unbelievably large.

  17. P.S. I know three of your followers. I left out Woman of No Importance because I didn't see her at first.

  18. Tasha - yes I think Rosemary would love it (and you'll be surprised that you will too)! Don't worry about the lambing - the last day of the lambing season is tomorrow and we were informed that all the lambs would be born by then. So if you leave it at least a week you'll be sure to miss anything gruesome!!

    Snowbrush - Hello and thanks for stopping by. How very lovely of you. Oh what a wonderful job your wife has - my husband's sister is a midwife (as we call it) or a sage-femme as they call it (she's French) and we never stop pestering her to tell us birth stories. For some reason I can't get enough of it!

  19. I never understood how you couldn't possibly know you are pregnant.

    Lambing, yes, interesting. Very British.

    Hope you can extricate the afterbirth scene from your mind!

  20. I've always thought there is a big design flaw with childbirth. Why do you think I've stuck at one?!

  21. Oh you scared me in the end with your joke!

  22. AMM - I know - what about the baby kicking and moving about?! Soooo strange not to think that something is up...

    WM - Ha ha. Yes. I have to say I freaked out for the whole 9 months of my second pregnancy absolutely panicked about the impending birth. Even considered going for hypnotherapy (but never quite got round to it)!! Second birth much much easier though. It's all relative though. It was still hideous!

    Marion - Ha ha. Yes I thought my Mother would panic even more...not to mention my husband!!!

  23. Ewww or should that be ewe ;) I wouldn't want to see a sheep give birth.
    I love to see the little lams though, they are so cute.
    Oh by the way a tip for an 'easier' childbirth incase you decide to go through it again.
    Raspberry leaf's a miracle. Lucy was born in an hour and a half.....without the tea Jono took 17 hours!...mind you the tea tastes like crap!

  24. Sounds like the hit track from Grease - hopelessly devoted to ewe. (Came here from Fat Frumpy & Fifty)

  25. I watched a labrador giving birth to puppies once. Every now and then as one popped out she'd turn and look at it as if to say "Now where did that come from?" It all looked way too easy!

  26. Magnumlady - thanks for the tip!!! But NOT going there again. Having said that though, I DID drink loads of Raspberry leaf tea. Got sick of the stuff...but labour was still hideous :-((

    David - Ha ha. Nice one. Thanks for visiting. Love your flower photos. Beautiful.

    AA - Haven't seen dogs giving birth, but I can imagine it's even easier han lambs (especially given the amount of puppies that come out)!! I don't suppose they could make it that hard. Never seen an elephant give birth, but that could be a hard one...

  27. Yes, I'm here!! There are some pictures somewhere (older posts) of a ewe giving birth, think you might be able to click on them to enlarge the effect! It's a pretty magical moment. But believe me, the ewes do feel pain, some more than others and the younger mums get a little confused too. But that separating day you speak of is definitely not for the faint hearted. Lambs are taken from their mums and the cries are heart wrenching. I think there's a blog about that somewhere too! But don't fear, the lambs are much older and the mums are actually glad of the peace from having their teats ramraided.

    But now that the lambing is over, it's only just begun as far as feeding is concerned. Flamin' 7 pet lambs screaming for milk 3 times a day is very tying. A bit like having kids really...!

    Great blog, sounds like you all had a lovely day despite not actually seeing a birth.

    CJ xx

  28. We saw a lamb being born a few years ago when we ventured into the North Yorkshire countryside and you're right it looked dead easy. The lamb just slid out without warning. The mother didn't go red, there was no swearing or berating of the ram! It was a beautiful occassion.

  29. CJ - Thankyou!! Everybody waiting for you to tell us the real truth! Right, I'm just off to peruse your back catalogue and finally see a lamb being born (albeit in a photo)!!

    Really don't know how you manage to fit everything in to your life. Farm, lambs, children, husband and that's all without even mentioning the blogging. Are you sure you don't have 25 hours in your day?!

    Mary T - Ha ha. Yes, it's just not fair!!

  30. "Your blog is always beautifully written, by the way..."!

    "I agree with Of No Importance, you write beautifully."!!

    "And as the others have already said, you do write beautifully. Please keep it up."!!!

    Come on, agents!

    I was reminded of the time, just a few years ago, of staying at a camp site in York and being kept awake by the desperate, relentless, crying of sheep in the next field. The next morning the farmer explained that he had just taken their lambs away the previous day. And I've completely blanked that out.
    So thanks for reviving some really ugly memories.

    I had wondered at the sudden disappearance of the newly returned husband but thought it would be too rude to ask.

    Oh, and I'm still waiting for the rest of that labour story.

  31. Bless you Freddo. How lovely of you to say such things (apart from the bringing back of bad memories of which I am sorry for). Yes it does seem that the crying of the sheep is one of the worst things that has been brought to my attention through this post. It was something I never knew about, but I can only imagine how hideous it must be for them.

    And as for agents - Ha! I don't think anyone would want to read this drivel in a book. But, when I start to write about something far more interesting than dirty nappies and childbirth (hold on - what could be more interesting that that?) - then I will let you know!

    Newly returned husband has now returned again. Such is life.

    As for the labour story - ooh crikey - I might actually have to finish it now - back by popular demand. Soon Freddo, I promise! x

  32. I love this post. I have thought the same thing so many times. Watch Michaela's Zoo Babies - none of the other animals have any probs giving birth. It's so unfair!

  33. "And as for agents - Ha! I don't think anyone would want to read this drivel in a book."

    Don't forget - the drivel is in the detail!

  34. Cave Mother - Hello there and welcome...I will folow youe advice and watch Michaela's Zoo Babies. Although by the sounds of things it will just confirm my thoughts about the injustice of it all!!

    Freddo - You are sweetness personified. And I always did have a bit of a sweet tooth!

  35. That is an amazingly descriptive uhhh...descripton of your time there. Good point about the whole childbirth thing.

  36. You are going back for round 3? And you went to have a look at more birthing moments? Think it best if the whole birth process is blocked out of memory otherwise we really would all stick at one. My husband reckons it isn't fair that women get all the hormones to make them forget about birth, he is still scarred by the first one. (This is also the man that, at a dinner party, answered that HE had found the second pregnancy much more difficult when I was asked whether it was different a second time).

    I bet the girls had a great time. What a lovely thing to do with them.

  37. Marathoner81 - Hello and welcome! Thankyou. I don't think I'll forget what I witnessed in a hurry...

    BiB - No no no....definitely not going back for round 3 (she says crossing her legs and taking a deep breath). No, no, no. That was a joke. Can't do it to myself. Think I must have been missing the hormones needed to block out the memories because I will NEVER forget the pain of childbirth. EVER. Funny that a man said he had found it difficult - I wonder what his wife had to say about that??

  38. The title of this post pulled me in and I'm so happy I read the entire post. You're funny! You are also a very ELOQUENT writer. Your way with words captured and kept my attention. May God bless you for blessing me through your blog; I read a few posts (smile).

    Have a Wonderful Wednesday in Motherhood!

  39. Momsweb - Hi and thankyou so much for such lovely comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the post - do keep coming back for more! Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday too. x

  40. I think it's to do with walking on 2 legs, not 4.

  41. Iota - I'm sitting here desperately trying to think of any creatures with 4 legs who don't have it easy. Elephants perhaps?? Not sure. NEver seen it. Horses don't have it that easy I think. Hmmm. Good point!

  42. Hadn't seen this post before, but I seen it listed in your top blogs post for your blogoversary :)

    Funny about the women who don't know they are pregnant until they give birth, I can never understand how they go through the full pregnancy without knowing.

    About the sheep, I think animals are generally much braver than us :)