In all the years we've been hosting shearing day, we've never had a live birth. The ewes are rather shy about giving birth in front of people, especially strangers. But (as anyone who has given birth can attest) sometimes there's nothing the mama can do. Those babies will come when they will.
Timothy had just quit shearing to go in the house to get some lunch. Many visitors headed over to the shop, but some hung around in the back of the barn, in the lamb area. The Suffolk sheep had been shorn in January in preparation for their lambing. And we had plenty of lambs for people to look at, laugh at, and hold. So it was a popular area. But we couldn't have planned this any better if we'd tried.
We had a baby! I'll spare you the pictures of the actual birthing. But as soon as the lamb was out, the ewe instinctively licked it all over. This gets rid of the placenta, and the vigorous licking stimulates the lamb so that it wants to stand up and eat.
It is very important for the lamb to nurse soon after birth. The nutrition that lambs receive from the first milk, or colostrum, is vital to their survival. It also helps to warm them up.
This photo was taken a few minutes after birth (thanks, Sherry!) and shows the lamb already instinctively looking for the ewe's udder.
It's amazing how God has made sheep to just sort of "know" what they need to do.