This is the first in a new series on the blog, featuring posts from past Woolful podcast guests, giving a bit of a deeper look into what they do, wisdom they have to share and stories they have to tell.
I’m thrilled that Kim Goodling of VT Grand View Farm is here to share a bit of her lambing journey at her farm in Vermont, where she raises Gotland and Romney sheep. Thank you Kim!
The ewes grow round and full with lambs and the wait begins. I have cleaned the barn, set up the lambing pen, and restocked my lambing kit. I now watch for signs of labor, spending much time bent over, looking at the back side of my ewes. Swollen udders and sunken bellies signal that a ewe will soon deliver her lambs. Night watch will begin soon, as we near the first due date marked on our calendar, March 28.
Walk…Relax…Stay Nourished…Breathe Naturally…Make Your Nest and Push…
For ten years, I taught natural childbirth classes. I worked with couples, teaching them how to labor. We spent time practicing deep abdominal breathing and focusing on our bodies and how they work during labor. Every week we watched videos of natural births and talked about what we saw and our anxieties and fears. We became a support network for one another. Through the miracle of life, I saw grown men cry and women become empowered by the ability to take control over their birth experiences. I saw amazing new lives unfold before my eyes time and time again.
Although I no longer teach childbirth classes, I am blessed to have this rhythm of keeping watch over new life on our farm. With each season, I am reminded of the shear miracle of birth. With each delivery, I stand in awe of the process.
A laboring ewe is the perfect picture of natural childbirth, working with her body to bring the lamb into the world. A healthy ewe will labor and deliver her lambs completely on her own. She will stay on her feet throughout labor, eating hay, and chewing her cud. Every now and then, as a contraction begins, the ewe stands still, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. Once the contraction passes, she goes back to walking and eating to keep herself nourished. As the ewe’s contractions become more frequent, she quits eating, as she must focus her attention on each contraction. Ewes may squat or sway with each contraction, helping to get the lamb in the correct position. Once the ewe begins to push, she paws at the ground, as though making her nest. Laying down, she works hard during the pushing contractions. Often the ewe will nicker to her lamb as if to encourage him along the way. The lamb enters the world with front feet and nose first, slipping easily from the warmth of the womb into the still of the barn. The ewe speaks to her lamb in soft nickers as she cleans and nuzzles him.
Of all the jobs I have ever had, teaching my natural childbirth classes was one of the most rewarding. Now, I am blessed to continue to see God’s amazing gift of birth and life right here on my own farm, in my own barn, every lambing season.