Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lambing Season

I got around three hours of sleep last night, maybe 3.5? I was planning on going to bed around midnight and waking up at 3Am and 6AM (my usual lambing check times) but this weekend the chill is too real - 15° today and that's the HIGH! So when I noticed a string of (what I thought) was a mucus plug coming from a hogget ewe - I knew I could not tuck into sleep. I put on coffee and was outside 6 times that night.I cleaned the house up, did dishes,couldn't rest - from what I have read and heard, being on Lambing is a lot like being on meth.

If you follow me on social media, you saw the madness. I was posting all sorts of stuff to keep my brain entertained. Mostly making lists. It was fun, but man, am I feeling the drag of only a few hours of sleep. Tonight will be tougher. lows below zero, four ewes to go, and a house to keep the pipes thawed, fire roaring, hawk safe, and dogs comfy. I managed to get a lot of work done yesterday, art commissions mailed out, logo clients caught up. Today my to-do list is lighter. I am going to try and get a nap where I can so I am ready for the ring tonight. It's Jenna vs Lambing2017.

Why the all-nighters? Because I don't have a lambing barn. I have two sheds. One is large and holds the whole flock (or a bossy horse), and the other is what you see above. A small shed with a heat lamb and hay and when the next new mama is with lamb she'll go in here with a gate. It's a comfy lambing jug for the new ladies or wee lambs. Could I shove all the females in the large shed and lock it with a gate and heat lamp. Sure. But the point of a smaller lambing shed (jug) is to keep the mom and offspring close and alone together - so no other ewe can try and "adopt" the lamb who isn't producing milk yet and the likelihood of the new mothers abandoning the newborn is less. So having them all in the same bulk container doesn't solve the problem of necessary attachment going askew. And if I filled the larger shed with jugs it would mean no shelter for the other sheep who might need a respite from wind, rain, and cold.

So this is what I do. I check every few hours for the duration of lambing season. It's once a year. It's tough but this is the life I chose. I don't have to worry about raising kids or a spouse or getting to the office on Monday AM. I am here. The mandatory presence is okay.

Sean Connery, the new (and so far only) lamb out of Brick is doing well. He's tough, having spent this new cold world beside his woolly parent and enjoying his breakfast on demand.

I hope you are all staying warm and have good support around your lambing/kidding/whatever you raise. I joked on Facebook with a local farmer that we need to start a Farm-Midwifery-Potluck-and-towel wagon. When one farmer is done with their babies coming into spring they volunteer laundry and meals for another farmer in the fray. I think it is a fine idea. Though to be honest, if you showed up with food here I'd say thank you, put it in the fridge, and be happy that was 30 minutes of napping I gained not cooking. then take that nap and forget to eat anyway. Farming!


Blogger Angelica said...

So suspenseful--anxious.

March 4, 2017 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Take care of those lambs girl!

March 4, 2017 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger Lou Archer said...

We have a tiny flock of 20 ewes, all hand raised so very biddable. Two years ago husband installed cctv in the barn, because he's techy. It's a dream come true. Stay warm. We're lambing in April, when the grass and temperatures will be on the up, hopefully.

March 6, 2017 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Keith Brennan said...

We are smallscale too - 5 ewes in lamb and one goat. And like you we are...outbuilding minimal.

We use two solutions to the housing issue for lambs. We raise Shetland sheep, who are hardy enough to lamb outdoors if needed.

And we use sheep folds - small galvanised panels in three, four, five or six foot lengths that are designed to be connectable - they have eyelets at the edge and you drop a meta;l rod down - allowing your to make multiple small pens that are stable, small, and secure enouigh to pen sheep and lambs.

People used to make them from willow and hazel, straight rods of wood with thin rods of wood woven horizontally. The old hazel woods that were harvested for the rods are dotted around the countryside where I live. And they would use them as fences over hundreds of metres, to make runs, to pen sheep....hazel hurdles. Something we will do oursleves when we have the time.

Means we can set up our small stables so we can house 6 ewes simultaneously in the same building while still ensuring they have undisturbed space so they can bond. The spaces are also large enough to that you can be in there with them, and you can make the spaces as large (we use them, to pen the enture flock in the field when we need to work them) - or as small as you need.)

Hope you have a great time lambing. Spent last year wrapping tattered scraps of lamb in my fleece and running full tilt downhill to the stable with them and their mothers while my kids slept in the house. One ear on the baby monitor, one on the hill field, and a third one on the stables...

March 14, 2017 at 10:18 AM  

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