Last night after Robin and Lori were settled, I went into the barnyard.
My clothes were covered in fluid, blood, and feces from Robin’s birth. Lori only cleaned Robin off after she was nursing. But I had held her even before I did my best to dry her off with a towel, to help keep her warm.
I was also sitting with the two of them in the small stall trying to get Robin to nurse for over an hour. The afterbirth hung from Lori like an Eva Hesse sculpture, smearing my coat and pants as she tried to get away from Robin and me.
I went into the barnyard because I wanted the animals to smell Robin on me. I thought it would be a good introduction to her.
I expected Fanny to be the first one to come to me. But I was surprised when it was the sheep who surrounded me instead. They approached me more gently than when I have treats or hay. Slowly, they lifted their noses to my coat taking in the smells.
They parted when Fanny approached.
Again there was none of the pushing or jostling that happens when food is involved. Fanny’s nostrils were wide and pulsing. She ran her nose up and down my coat and pants, like a vacuum, sucking up smells instead of dirt.
Eventually, Lulu came to me too. But, as always, she was more tentative, keeping some distance.
It’s possible for the donkeys to stomp a lamb, not knowing what it is, thinking it’s an intruder, especially if the mother doesn’t protect it. But once they know it belongs, they’ll guard it as they do the rest of the sheep.
This morning we took Robin out of the barn for few minutes to let the animals see her.
Lori called to her at first but then went back to eating. Lulu backed away, but once again Fanny came right up to me, nostrils wide getting to know Robin.
Asher and Issachar seemed the most interested of all the sheep. They grew up with Lori, so I wondered if they sensed a connection to her.
Robin started to call out and I brought him back to his mother. Lori was eating calmly and it only took a moment or two before Robin was nursing again.
Lori and Robin will stay in the stall in the barn for at least a week, maybe longer. It’s still cold out but as it warms up, we’ll put them both in the pole barn and close the gates so all the animals can get used to each other with the fence between them.
Little by little, they’ll all be together again.