Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lambing Nights

Last night the alarm went off and I hit snooze. It was 1:45 and it took until 1:75 for me to be dressed and outside. 1:75 isn't a typo. It was 1:57, actually, but for some reason I read the clock as 1:75 and that is the memory I still have with this lambing-season-lagged brain of mine. I remember laying in bed thinking about that snooze button and how warm I was next to the fire, under wool and sheepskins with my back against 55lbs of border collie. I didn't want to go outside. At all. But I had a job to do, and that meant checking on the three remaining pregnant ewes. So I told Gibson we needed to get to work and he shot out of bed taking all the covers with him like some mighty cape. I called him a horrible name and I got dressed in enough layers to pass for Mr. StayPuff.

My last check on the flock was around 11PM and I found little ray alone in an out building in the cold, away from Brick (who was snuggled next to Marnie about 20 feet away). I picked up Ray and Marnie and brought them into the sheep shed on the hill, which was lined with inches of hay and I had set up a heating light in. I wanted them out of the wind and off the frozen ground. When I headed inside the sheep shed there was Monday, just basking in the glow of the light. I "asked" him to leave (kicked him out) and he fart trotted off into the night and tried to hump Split Ear. Merlin stood there and watched. He could write one Hell of a sister wives Tell All.

All that was at 11PM. Had I not gone out there to check on them before bed as the temperatures dropped to 12 degrees, maybe Ray wouldn't have made it? Maybe he would have been fine? I didn't want to find out. So I set them both under the heat lamp and Brick joined them in the little, lit up, shed on the hill. Monday scratched his back on a post. Riveting stuff, guys.

So I was back on the hill at 1:75Am and checking all the ewes again. When I went to the lit shed I was happy to see Marnie an Ray in a pile under the light with mom. Whew. I walked around the rest of the field to check on Split Ear (who was laying down beside Monday by some brush in the moonlight) and the other two ewes, who I have not named yet. They came with names but I really didn't like them, something like Barbara or Marsha or Fluffy or something like that. They are Merino crosses, full on wool sheep, and I wonder what Monday's lambs will look like? I assume Muppets. Fluffy, horned, spotted, little Muppets.

I came inside happy to see no signs of labor and sleeping babes. I crawled back into bed with Gibson, my personal furnace, and set the alarm for 5AM. I couldn't fall back asleep until 3:30 or so. I had cracked the window over my head to hear if any of the animals cried out. I didn't get back out again until 6AM but all was well. No new lambs. It all starts again now.

Lambing Season is hard because I don't get much sleep. You can probably tell by that last video with my puffy face and eyes I'm not well rested, But I have strong coffee, good friends, and the joy of helping raise these animals on my own little bit of land. It's worth a span of days or so with caffeine as my blood type and extreme puffyness. It always is.


Blogger Janet Hamilton said...

Love your writing. Wishing you healthy lambs and good sleep!

February 27, 2016 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Chelsea Tarver said...

I actually have maybe a bit of a technical question... is there a reason that staying in the field overnight rather than being corralled in a stall of a barn with a camera to help monitor remotely? Being let back out to pasture in the mornings, naturally. I don't know if it's more your situation and how you make it work with what you've got or if there is a benefit to it that I might not know of. I ask actually partly because the stall and camera thing is something thatI have thought of for myself when I get my own property and animals someday. Reducing physical work (even getting out of bed kinda sucks most days) and reducing element exposure is something that will likely be important for me with my poopy joints. Thank you in advance for any insights you might have for me! :)

February 27, 2016 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Great idea CT, but I don't have a space now that can accommodate that. Many do something like this. There are a million ways to shepherd, and the slog of a sleepless lambing season is mine.

February 27, 2016 at 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muppets huh? Then I suggest appropriate Muppet names for them: Fozzie, Kermit, Sam, Piggy, Gonzo, Scooter, Statler, get the drift. Stay strong my friend!

February 28, 2016 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Chelsea Tarver said...

That is so unfortunate! Well, someday your resources will allow it and yiur life will be just a hair easier :) thank you so much for the insight!

February 28, 2016 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

So, one of my favorite memories from my days of midnight lambing was the night I walked out to the barn in the clear cold, and comet Hale Bopp was glittering overhead. Needless to say, that little ram lamb was named Hale Bobb.

Try to nap :)

March 1, 2016 at 2:03 PM  

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