Monday, April 04, 2011

The Waiting Game

Its almost 8pm. Night is falling and so is the temperature and a light rain. Its cold and wet. In fact, that pretty much describes the weather so far in April. Rain forecasted for almost everyday and alot of it has happened. Not ideal lambing weather for sheep without a barn. Last year our first lamb came on April 1 and the next on April 23 and the last on May 7. So far no lambs. I made notes during breeding season and if my observations and calculations are correct, then Eirina (my white ewe who gave birth on May 7 to a white ewe lamb) is due tomorrow and that white lamb of hers (Lifa) is due on Friday. They both show signs of immanent birth. Their udders are huge and very firm. I had calculated Draga to be due April 25 yet she is enormous and looks ready to give birth at any moment. Luckily I had my dad build me 3 lambing pens...

So now is the waiting time. I check on them several times a day. I check on them last thing before I go to bed and Andrew or Dean (whoever is last up) checks on them when they go to bed. Last night the sound of a cat mewing woke me from my sleep at 3:20am. Only there was no cat. It was my dream waking me up. I stumbled down the stairs and outside in my pyjamas wearing my headlamp to check. No lambs yet.

Here is Eirina in the sheep shed full of straw ready for delivery if one of them should chose to labour there. See her side bulging out?

Here is my sweet Draga. You can see how huge she is. Triplets? One of her sisters had triplets...

And here is Lifa. I can hardly tell her apart from her mother. Now their horns are almost the same length. But Lifa's are pink at the base where she has had her new growth. Other than that.... I was joking with Rhiannon today that I am going to have to die one of their ears green or something.

Here is what I spend my time staring at - what is under the tail. Draga's us swollen and stretched down. It looks totally ready for birth.

Because I have only a small flock and one pasture, Renauld is tied up where he cannot harass the ewes or lambs should they come when I am not looking. You can see he is quite interested.

No pictures of Brida. She has been the first to lamb the last two years and is my senior ewe. But this year she has decided to go last. She is definitely pregnant but it looks like she has at least a month to go.

So tonight I have covered up the prepared lambing jugs with a tarp to keep the straw already waiting inside as dry as possible. I am tired. I will go to bed shortly with instructions to the night crew and wake up early. Will Eirina surprise me again? Will I awake to find she has done it all without me?

Like all mammals, my ewes will pass through death to bring their lambs into the world. Every birth comes close to death. Most pass through that moment just fine. But these are more than just livestock. I know my sheep and their personalities. So light a candle for my labouring sheep and say a prayer for them. My wooly friends

1 comment:

Laura said...

lambing time sure is exciting and tense. when you said you know your sheep it reminded me of heavenly father and how he knows us and must feel similar feelings as you for your sheep.