Thursday, February 5, 2015

Maybe I Need More Practice

Lambing season is at full steam! We seem to have more of the little buggers than we know what to do with and that is a good problem to have. Each trip to the barn reveals new lambs. The most amazing thing is that, as I write this column, the weather is spectacularly good. It kind of makes me wonder if the ewes didn’t make a mistake this year. I know, don’t talk too loudly because weather always seems to have a way of evening things out.
At the beginning of each lambing season we sort the ewes into three groups. We make a pen of ewes that look like lambing is eminent in the next week. The next group is ewes who are showing signs of being close to lambing but are a few weeks off (or so we think). Both of these groups get a place in the barn. The final group is reserved for the ewes that are not showing any signs that they may lamb in the next month. This is a very inexact science.
This week we had an unbelievable flurry of ewes having lambs Sunday night and Monday morning. This was a good thing since Jennifer was going back to work, the kids back to school and I had two meetings during the day. That meant we needed to lean on Dad to check the maternity ward during the day. I am beginning to learn that you never know what your kids are going to get you into, which is what Dad says to me each time I ask him to check the ewes.
Monday morning I called Dad as I left to give him the update and let him know what I did, and more importantly, what I didn’t do. I told him about our flurry of activity and also shared with him my theory that he probably would have a slow day because of all the activity that night. He reminded me about how accurate I had been with my predictions on such matters in the past. I reassured him that with more experience in this sheep endeavor came more accuracy. I don’t think he entirely believed me.
So I left home with every jug in the lambing barn full of new lambs and their proud mothers. I was feeling pretty good about myself; I finally had this sheep thing figured out. My meeting went along quietly and smoothly that morning and at noon we went to lunch. Somewhere about the end of lunch my cell phone rang, it was Dad’s number.
He was calling to tell me that I had new lambs. OK so I missed that prediction. “Which pens are they in?” I asked. Dad told me that I had a ewe with a lamb in the North pen. That didn’t surprise me, the North pen was my pen of ewes I deemed to be the closest. The next ewe and lamb were in the South pen. Boy did I miss the whole no new lamb thing. That would be the next closest pen of ewes to lamb. A little surprising that one of those ewes had lambs but not too much of a shock. I probably should have seen that coming since there were fewer ewes in that pen than the close pen and they had started out with even numbers.
“And the last ewe with a new lamb is out in the big pen,” Dad said. The big pen is the pen where the ewes that were not at all close are housed. I guess I missed that one, just like the other three I missed in that pen. Dad also told me that I had a couple of other ewes in that pen that he thought would lamb in the near future (like that night). Sure enough, the next morning I found a ewe with twin lambs in the big pen.
I am happy and probably pretty lucky to report that all of those lambs are doing well. Dad and Jennifer moved lambs and ewes that night and by the time I got home from my second meeting everything was bedded down and good for the night. I am not sure I deserve all of the good help I have been blessed to have.
The next evening Isaac and I, acting on Dad’s tip, moved four ewes directly from the big pen to the North pen. This prompted Isaac to make the comment that we probably ought to either put marking harnesses on the rams next year or get Grandpa to help sort ewes from the beginning. It was kind of hard for the “veteran” sheep man to hear, but it was most likely true. So now that I have eaten my humble pie, I had probably better go check the ewes and that includes all three pens.

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