Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Waiting Game

My ewes are looking just about ready to burst from being sooo pregnant, and last night, well, for a couple of nights now, I thought 2 of them would lamb. I even went so far last night as to trudge out to the lambing pen at 11 o'clock at night flash light in hand, to lock the two that looked imminent up in the lambing shed. That was fun. When I had gone out to check on them, for what Id thought would be the last time to have to suit up against the cold for the night, I found that one of the girls was not huddled up with the rest of the bunch per is her usual, and had in fact sequestered herself all alone on the opposite side of the pen, and was laying down looking pretty miserable. Upon seeing that, I figured she was ready, and with the wind that was picking up making it quite uncomfortable even for me in my coveralls, that's what prompted me to make up my mind to go ahead and put them ( the two that are looking close) in the shed. I didn't bring a dog out with me, as I didn't think I needed one, and with the ewes so close, I didn't want a dog out there disturbing their sense of security. I mean, how hard can it be to just open the shed door and have them run on in? I had already made it a warm and cozy haven, having bedded it down with comfy sweet smelling straw, and a bucket of fresh cool water and a bale of alfalfa hay, (dual purpose, feed, AND! a good place to sit or use as a pseudo table should I need a place to set any utensils or meds that I may need) Its not the Ritz, but it beats the heck out of the cold hard ground.
Well, the sheep weren't as excited about entering their cozy shelter away from the cold as I thought they should have been, and I ended up spending a very frustrating 20 minutes playing ring around the rosy with them trying to get them to go in. (Anyone that thinks they can play the part of the dog, even in a confined space where the sheep have nowhere to go and cant get away from ya, has another thing coming!) Round and around the shed we went, and thank God for the light bulb that finally went off over my head, cause I don't think I would have come to the conclusion all on my own, that I did in fact need the aide of a dog to help me.
So, I go back to the house, and am now faced with the decision of which dog to use? Lex could do it easy, but Id have had to take down the boards that comprise the pen gate (you'd have to see it to understand it, I just climb over it myself) because she cant jump over the gate anymore so Id have had to take down a few boards for her to get in and that would open opportunity for sheep to escape back onto the pasture. Then I think it couldn't hurt Bear to get some experience in the lambing pen, at night. He handles his stock very calm and gentle, and so would be a good choice, and then theres Chris. The dog I would least want to put on immanent ewes in a tight spot, but, for the same token, the one dog that I know I can count on to get the job done toot sweet so I don't have to spend any longer out in the wind and cold. In other words,it would be a job that would get done quickly, instead of a training session, and that's I was trying to avoid with using Bear. As I walk into the dog room, and flip on the light they all know whats up. I don't run around the house in my coveralls with a flash light in my hand very often, so they know at least one of them is going to be called upon to lend a hand, er...paw. Those in the know, are looking directly at me with pleading eyes that seem to say, pick me, pick me! There must just be something in me that is a glutton for punishment, and so without even thinking much more about it, I take the sheep shredder Chris out of her crate and tell her to come on girl, we got a job to do. I find myself when needing something done in a hurry, always anymore, grabbing Chris, as I know she will take immediate command and control of the sheep, and do my bidding as I ask her. Regardless of the fact that she some times still likes to grip when put in a position such as I was about to put her in, I still know she will listen to me and not make to big a mess of things, because really, all she wants to do is what I ask of her. A quality she and Bear have very much in common, that I really like, and can appreciate on a night like this. Chris however has put the sheep in the lambing shed for me on numerous occasions, where Bear has only done it a few times, so again, I was trying to avoid a training session and just needed to get the ewes put up with the least amount of stress as I could manage. Chris is very excited about the prospect of getting out there, and as soon as I open the door she leaps, flying 5 feet through the air off the front porch in a single bound, and is waiting at the gate to the pasture when I arrive. Hmmmm. She is a lot more animated than Id like to see a dog at this point, and so just by luck, there is a leash hanging on the gate. There goes that light bulb again. As much as it had gone off last night, I really had no use for a flash light fer sure! That little light bulb was just following me around over my head lighting up the night every where I went. So seeing Chris in such an....excited and animated state, I opted to snap the lead on her, and just hook the leash onto the corner of the lambing shed, and she could hang out there cutting off the sheep's access to running around and around the shed, and, Chris couldn't get herself in any trouble or make a mess of things. As soon as Chris jumped over the gate into the lambing pen, the sheep knew they were had. They all huddled together looking distrustful, and leery. I hooked Chris on the leash on to the outside corner of the lambing shed, and wala! They took one look at me and the dog, and marched right into that shed, and that was pretty much that! I got the two sheep I wanted to keep in there, into a corner and unhooked Chris from the outside of the pen, and she and I walked into the lambing shed, and cut the rest off and sent them back out of the shed and into the pen. That was just to easy, and why I didn't think of it before I spent 20 minuets out there chasing them around, and around the shed which to me was much more stressful than what Chris and I accomplished in a matter of about 2 minutes, is beyond me. Live and learn. So, as I closed the shed door feeling pretty good about myself and Chris, and went to lock it, I quickly came to the realization that my lock was broken. Oh goodie.....Now, I have always been known to wax poetically about the usefulness of a piece of baling twine. I simply don't think there is any stronger material in the world that can take as much abuse and use (except of course, duck tape, which is another of my favorite "tools" to use in a pinch) than a single strand of that orange miracle string of substance. Ive said it before, and I'll say it again. I am very anal about leaving baling twine laying around. I think it comes from working for 2 years on a dairy farm, where if a dairy cow picks up and ingests a piece of twine, which apparently is a common occurrence from what my boss at the time reminded me of quite often while pointing at a stray piece laying about, can be death to a cow, thus making me so anal about keeping them picked up. However anal I am though, I don't have a designated spot to put twine when I find it, and so if you look down my fence line, your liable to see stray pieces of it tied here and there on the fence just waiting for the opportunity to be put back into service. So, needless to say, it didn't take but a second for me to locate a piece, and put it to good use, and fashion a new "lock" for the gate. I hesitate to say temporary lock, cause I'm sure that single piece of wonder string, will last till I take it off, and will no doubt still be there this time next year. Its serving a purpose and I see no need to change it now, the gate is secure.
So after I got the girls secured and safe from the nights lows, I just kicked back and quietly observed them for a bit. It was good for Chris to hang there with me too in such close proximity to the other sheep for a bit and just relax. Which, miraculously, she did immediately, which made me even more pleased that I chose her to come out with me. After we spent a few minuets making sure the girls were going to settle in OK, Chris and I left them to it, and went back inside. I had planned on going back out later to check on them, but must have been feeling pretty smug about the choices Id made, and instead, ended up falling asleep on the couch till this morning. Fast forward to this morning, and I just knew Id have at least one ewe from the pair that would have presented me with a new photo op in the form of a set of twins today. No dice. They looked at me while thoughtfully chewing on mouthfuls of hay, and I looked back at them scratching my head thinking "huh?", and I swear those girls were grinning at me as if to say, "Ha! Fooled you!"
So, we are in "waiting mode" now, and I can only hope they have their babies here in the next day or two before the rains that have been predicted start to come. As honestly, as fantastic as I think baling twine is, I don't think it'll fix the leak in my lambing shed. I think me needs to go find the duck tape!


angelandspot said...

Oh yeah, the waiting game. That starts here in about a week. And I know the feeling of playing the dog in a small pen and the sheep still running around in circles. So did they lamb overnight or did they trick you? I used to have one ewe that would play false labor games and you would sit out there freezing for a hour or so each night waiting for the lamb and then she would get up and go back to normal until she finally had the lamb about a week later when you were not in sight.

Darci said...

Sorry, I some how hit the publish post button, before I was finished with writting the post, so you can go back and read the finished product now. I think Ive had to much coffee today, as my fingers seemed to be involintarily hitting keys before checking with my brain! LOL

Darci said...

Oh yea,Im very familiar with them waiting till I turn my back before having their lambs, which disturbs me, as I like being there when they have them, just in case.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the pictures of the babies. How adorable they are.

Darci said...

I love new born puppies and new baby horses, I think they are sooo cute. But NOTHING! is cuter than baby sheep! Absolutly nothing! Ive got my camera batteries charging already.