Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alyssa Jean's Mae Baby

Just what you've always wanted: another post about babies!

Last year's baby lamb, Bates, was unintentionally bred TOTALLY out of season by her OWN FATHER! So while our other 5 lambs were born in February-March, Bates had her baby on May 6, 2011 at 11:30am.

Myke and I had been out at the farmer's market site to help hang the new banner by the road. We came back and as we were passing the pasture field, we noticed that one of the sheep (it was too far away to tell who) was laying very awkward and not normally. So while I went back out to the garden (as far away from the pasture fields as you can get!) to finish planting zucchini, which I'd been working on before the market, Myke went out to check on her. Then he sent his son Owen to run and get me.

Owen made it as far as the barn, where King Richard IV (all of our mean roosters are named King Richard) was keeping watch. Owen dared not go farther. So he yelled for me from there, but I didn't hear him. Finally he plucked up the courage to come out to get me, and we RAN for the pasture as hard as we could! Then I had to run back to the barn and get the shepherd's crook, then run back to the field. I was terribly winded and couldn't breathe for a few minutes. I need to get back in running shape....

Once I got my breath back, we herded all the sheep besides Bates into the next pasture over, then went over to Bates to check on her. Presently, a baby lamb appeared. However, she got too tired to make it out all the way; Myke had to pull her back legs out and set her in front of Bates. Neither one of them looked too good; I wasn't sure if either would survive at first.

Finally, after a few long minutes, Bates got up and walked around and ate some grass. She licked the baby a couple of times and went back to her own business. She would not allow the baby to feed. We waited about an hour with them before holding Bates down and finding her teat for the baby. The baby preferred the poop that was next to it. Weirdo.

Finally, once she'd got some milk/colostrum into her, we left them together and headed off to lunch. When we came back from lunch, Bates was still not interested in her baby. In fact, she managed to climb her way through the electric fence and the baby could not figure out how to get back to her. At least Bates stayed just on the other side of the fence and didn't wander off. Once I helped the baby find her way under the bottom wire, Bates walked off too fast for the baby to comfortably follow.

The baby got some visitors from the college, so we picked her up and carried her around for a bit. After a while, I carried her back out to the field and brought her to Bates, who was lying down in the grass. I set her down next to Bates and walked away a few feet and sat down. Bates turned her head away. The baby came back over to me and curled up in my lap. And that was that.

We tried to bond them again by locking them both in the barn together and trying to get Bates to feed her, but it didn't work. The baby became our first, and hopefully last, bottle-fed baby.

So we brought her home (to the Russells) and fed her milk replacer mixed with hot water and fed it to her out of all we had: a Twisted Tea bottle, which allowed for many comments of how she is learning to drink at such a young age.

Amy and I named the baby Mae.

Mae bonded to me the way she should have bonded to Bates. She even tries to nurse on me: my neck, my armpits, my fingers, my elbow pits. I am now her mother. Let me tell you, it's pretty tough being a single mom at 19 years old! But I keep hearing from many different people what a great job I'm doing, so I feel pretty good about both myself and Mae! My own mom even wished me a happy Mother's Day last Sunday!

In the past 8 days, Mae has pooped on me at LEAST ten times (diarrhea....), and peed on me countless times. I wore the same clothes for 5 days straight to make sure that I didn't get too many of my clothes ruined. I finally washed them yesterday and they actually look alright now. Not perfect, but better!

She didn't eat much on Monday; she was teething. Tuesday, I forgot her bottle at home. Then she turned out to be very hungry. So we brought her over to the college and raided the nursing department for a baby bottle. And by that I mean that we asked one of the nursing professors if there were any spares.

Mae and I were stopped by many, many people between the "fishbowl" in Mercy Hall and the office in the Heffernan center, just the next building over. It generally takes about a minute and a half to walk from point A to point B. It took at least an hour. Mae is very popular. All week, I got many compliments on my mothering, many questions about Mae, about why her mother didn't want her, etc.

While many people knew who I was before because of the work I do on the farm, that amount must have doubled this week! Wanna know what else at least doubled? Mae's size. She was SUPER thin when she was born, very skinny and wrinkly. After 4 days, she had probably about doubled and filled out her skin. Sometimes while feeding her, I could actually SEE her getting fatter!

As the week went on, Mae began to get fatter and stronger. She follows me everywhere, stopping only to pee. She even slept with me for the first few nights when she was extra fussy. I pulled her right into bed with me and she curled right up and went to sleep!

Now she is pretty well kennel trained and sometimes even goes in on her own to pee or sleep. Other times, she poops or pees all over the floor, even the carpet. It's hard to clean up, but I'm getting more skilled. Of course, dish soap helps too!

Tuesday night, Mae frolicked for the first time. Now she runs around like crazy all the time! I can run around in circles for 10 minutes straight and she chases after me like mad the whole time, only stopping to pee every couple minutes.

Right now, Mae is in "time out" because she pooped on the floor about eight times in one hour. She even pooped on Myke a few minutes ago. Pretty funny. But now that she is eating grass (or dirt, as she prefers), her poop is getting thicker, not so diarrhea-y, which is definitely a good thing. It's also greenish-brownish now instead of yellow.

Tomorrow I will move out of the Russells and back onto campus, forcing me to leave my baby girl behind. I won't see her every night. I won't have to wake up 2-5 times a night to feed her or play with her. It's all very sentimental. It's actually pretty hard on me. But I will see her every day, because she'll come with Myke to the farm every day.

My experience with Mae has made me realize that when I have my own human babies, I am going to be a very emotional mom. I'll probably cry when they take their first steps, talk for the first time, go off to kindergarten, etc. Yup. But I know it will be totally worth it (years from now!). I love babies. It's just a little bit sad how fast they grow up.

Mom, now I know how you feel. Love you!

More pictures to follow......

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