This is our first lambing season as a family. While we have had sheep in the past this was when we were living in town and my husband and his father were the ones that got to experience the daily tasks that went with it. This year was different. From the frustration and anticipation, sleepless nights and drug out days, to the excitement and devastation the kids and I were along for the ride.
It was a long season for us this year for a multitude of reasons most of which we have to claim as our own. A young ram coupled with a bum does not make for a smooth breeding process and we paid for that in the number of weeks spent anxiously awaiting the arrival of the lambs. Once lambing started it felt like it would never end as the spacing between each lamb could be hours or days apart. We have a small flock and this also did not help matters. There were just enough to keep us up at night but not enough to make all those nights eventful. Many nights were spent shivering in the barn listening to sheep snore with one grunting just enough to keep us from going back to the warmth of the house. It was almost like the sheep had gotten together and decided to take turns taunting us. I can just about imagine the conversation.
Sheep one, “I’ll stay up tonight and paw at the ground and grunt a little, maybe even give a couple of pushes for good measure.” Sheep two, “I’ll take the early morning. I’m thinking that if I pace back and forth and go in and out of the barn a few times that will make them nervous.” Sheep one is obviously the ring leader and continues, “Along with me and number 2, 3-6 will rotate through this week. That will put at least one of us into labor and really keep them on edge. Next week anyone that isn’t ready to give birth just shut things off completely. Then number 10 give them a good scare and writhe around on the ground a few times even though you are nowhere near close. We can start the rotation again with 7-16 and then maybe take off for a few days and see if they let their guard down. Make sure to time your births so that there are either 5 of us at once or we are spaced out one every few days.” This strategy continues for a few weeks and then this conversation occurs. Sheep 25, “We lost our leader today to the lambing pen so I’ll be taking over. Man are those people dumb. The male came out today and had two different boots on, we’re really wearing them down. I gave him a good scare when he fell asleep in the corner and I started grunting real loud. That kept him up way longer than normal. And the female, she looked like the chickens from the last farm when Number 3 started to lamb, arms flapping and clucking until the male came out. At least then her clucking was directed at him instead of us.” Number 26 snorts then says,” That’s nothing, Number 20 needed some assistance and the female actually had to do something for once. It was pretty comical the way she kept apologizing for where her hand was going. Then she looked so proud of herself, like she was the one that did the hard work. Number 34 laid down then and pretended to push for awhile. You should have seen the female, wiped the grin off her face pretty quick.”
I’m fairly certain that this is actually what has been happening and I don’t appreciate being compared, however accurately, to a chicken. The last 4 ewes I’m sure will keep up the charade until the bitter end.
Lambing really has been a great thing for our family. I’ve come a long way from not knowing that cats drank water to pulling lambs. Shawn and I have had to learn to work together more than ever before. The kids have the responsibility of some bottle lambs and all that entails. I’m especially proud of the kids and how they have handled their work load. They are taking the bottle lambs seriously and have made the necessary sacrifices of time and money and have realized that both are requirements of any investment. I’m especially happy that they are learning to work together and rely on one another for help. I’ve gotten to hear them hash out when to up the amount of milk for a certain lamb or when to add hay and grain, and discussing profit and loss. How can these two babies, that were just yesterday on the bottle themselves, be making what equates to business decisions with little outside assistance? These are exactly the types of situations that assure me that we made the right decision with moving out of town.
All and all lambing has been a good thing. Being close to the end is even better and I’m looking forward to a full nights sleep. Writing this has also made me realize that it’s normally my misadventures that spark me to blog and I’m sure the coming year will be full of that as we continue to grow the farm and I move slowly further away from the ignorant town girl that I was towards the competent farm wife that I strive to be.