I now dream about lambing. Last night Rita was in labor. And waking hours are no different. I’ve spent the last two days doing my own version of nesting, pulling out the heat lamps, stocking up the medicine box, locating the feeding tube, all the while training my gaze on the rear ends of the ladies looking for leaks, a signs of labor. It’s been a year and I’m rusty. I stare at one ewe and think hard on what else I’m supposed to look for and some of it comes back.
When the hips stand out the fetus has dropped into place, when the tail bone rises, when mucus appears, when she scrapes the ground, when she separates herself from the rest. We’re at day 148 since putting Hanson and Nash in with the girls and for our breed this means any day, any hour, lambing season will commence. We’ve separated last year’s lambs, two wethers and Martha who’s getting a breeding break this year, so that when we grain the pregnant ewes they don’t have to share their one pound portion with others. It’s an efficient way to give them protein without taking up too much space because in addition to four stomachs, the fetus are now growing rapidly.
It’s unusually cold. Some of the ewes shiver and I worry. There’s been some melt but because the ground is frozen the hay shed has begun to flood. To get above the rising water level, today we pulled out the bales, placed what pallets we had on top of the pallets that we put in two years ago, stacked some of the hay bales back and headed into town to find more pallets and for lunch. Eagle eye Todd spotted a stack in front of the Asian market and in minutes, with permission, we had five pallets. After two slices of Ziggy’s pizza, we headed home, placed the new pallets in the last section of the hay stall and restacked the remaining hay.
A third of this shed is sectioned off for the boys, and that too had begun to flood. Yesterday, I mucked it out and when dear friend Laurel from Wilmette arrived, I asked if she’d help me raise their floor with pallets and a plastic sheet. It was messy work, but good friends are, well, good friends.
In front of the hay shed, inside a five gallon bucket that has holes drilled on the bottom and sides that act as muck filters, are two bricks and a sump pump.
It’s been running for a few hours, making a dent on the water level, but there’s so much more to thaw that I think we’ll be pumping on and off for a while.
A few years ago at a farm auction I bought two sets of four metal panels that are used to surround giant round bales so that sheep eat rather than climb on their meals. Those panels served us well all winter for just that purpose, but this weekend we tied strips of plastic snow barrier to their bottom halves.
These panels will now be used up in the barn to form squared off compartments or “jugs” for moms and brand new lambs.
Todd set up the lamb cams this morning and moved the in-house monitor from the library to the bedroom. Tonight we’ll start the 2 a.m. barn check. And so, I dream, stare at the monitor, hover in the barn and give myself over to lambing. Season Five is about to get underway.