Lambing is the most magical time on the farm, seeing the ewes growing rounder by the day and counting the gestation days. Usually a ewe will lamb at around 150 days. She will bear twins of up to 10 pounds each.
There are so many signs to let the shepherd know that she is about to lamb. The first indication is that she will separate herself from the flock and find the most inaccessible, godforsaken, and inconceivable patch of forest on your property. She will hide, scratch the ground and clear it of debris, lie down and wait for the contractions. If she is a seasoned ewe, she knows, like any mother, what lies before her pain, exhaustion, and if everything goes well, exhilaration at the birth of her offspring.
Meanwhile in the farmhouse bedroom, while your other half snores away the night (many couples take turns while others have "their job descriptions"), the shepherd gets up, that's me, dresses in a ski suit that was purchased in Switzerland in the 1960s, fetches the flashlight, and ventures into the almost always mesmerizing and magical of nights to take the well-beaten path to the barn to "look in on the ewe". (We will not mention the pelting rain, wind- and storm-tossed nights of snowy and horizontal streaks of the most awful weather on the face of the planet).
So often whilst approaching the barn, I have heard this bleating, pleading for milk and attention, and know that nature has taken her merciful course and the lambs have arrived safely.
The ewe is standing up, as are her offspring. She is licking them vigorously, grunting, and mewling to them to imprint herself on her lambs. The lambs, in turn bleat to their mother's heartbeat.
I clean off any mucus from the nose, put the lambs to the teat to insure that they latch on, and disinfect the umbilical cord. Then I retreat to the farmhouse kitchen, the ominous green glow of the digital clock informing me that it is 3:45 on a February morning, get out the molasses, and fill a bucket with warm water and the sweet stuff. This will give mom a jolt of insulin for metabolism and sheepy well-being. Proudly, (when everything goes well) I saunter back to the barn, give her the molasses water and a huge flat of summer smelling hay and smile with due respect and gratitude.
All is well in the world and I may have the grace of god to go back to sleep for an hour before the rooster calls.