Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We are not amused

There was snow covering the ground when I woke this morning.  I quickly checked the lamb-cam monitor (today is technically the first day we could have lambs being born) and all I saw were my poor "beached whale" ladies, resting and waiting.

It's mid-afternoon now and the scenario is basically the same.  The girls go out and graze (on what, I do not know) for a few minutes and then waddle back it and assume their beached whale positions.  We are having strange, schizophrenic weather.  One minute the sun is out, next the clouds roll over, the wind starts blowing and snow comes down sideways in near white-out conditions.

I have a fire in the studio woodstove and a new magazine in hand.  I've been listening to another of the Outlander books (downloaded from Audibile onto my iPhone and iPad) and checking the monitor every little bit.  This limbo period is hard for me, even after all these years .  I know the lambs are coming, but until the first ones hit the ground, it seems a bit unreal.  I've prepared the lambing pens, my birthing supplies are gathered up and now we wait.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

All is revealed

(assembly line shearing!)

I wanted to have a clever post title that included the words naked girls, but was afraid I would end up with some unwanted visitors here ... so I refrained.  In a manner of speaking, that is just what my girls look like right now.  The shearers arrived here early yesterday morning and got right to work getting that years worth of fleece off.  It was quite cold in the morning and we even had a dusting of snow on the ground, but the sheep didn't seem to mind at all.  That was a big relief to me because I'd been awake since before daylight worrying that the sheep might be all shivery and pitiful after being sheared.  Instead they  seemed completely comfortable and they even chose to go outside and graze a little on our nonexistent grass.

So, there were some important questions answered yesterday morning.  I know I mentioned before that Brynn (the Wensleydale ram) was not wearing a marking harness, so my only hope to know whether he was working was to see him actually breeding a ewe.  I only saw that one time in the two and a half weeks he was here.  While I was sorting through the ewe flock and getting ready to put them in with him, I put Gabby in to keep him company and he bred her several times, right then and there.  After that, I saw no activity from him.  Nothing.  Well, apparently he prefers the privacy that night time offers because it appears that all the ewes I gave him got bred.  (There's even a possibility that he bred a few I didn't give him.  The last night he was here, he managed to get himself into the pen where the other ewes were, so time will tell if we have some bonus babies.)  I used Rowdy as the backup ram and he marked three ewes, who all appear to be pregnant.

(the official maternity ward)

It appears that we have at least 12 ewes who are bred.  Gabby will start it off, sometime next week and there are several who appear to be not far behind her.  Now that the lamb-cam is up and running, you all can check on them too!  There's a bonus with the lamb-cam this year that I absolutely love.  If you look at the top right of the blog sidebar, you'll see the link for viewing on your computer and under that, a link for using an iPad or iPhone!  I'm really excited about this because it means I can check on them from anywhere.  Sometimes technology really does seem magical!  If the weather is decent, you may not see much going on in the daytime, except possibly a few chickens and a peacock scratching around in the straw.  Evening feeding, night-time and rainy days will bring everyone in (though at this stage of their pregnancies, the ewes mainly assume their beached whale positions when they're inside the barn).

(another sign of spring)

 Mike brought these in with the mail yesterday.  Lambs are coming soon and the daffodils are blooming, two signs that we have survived this long, long winter!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Biding our time

Jim Dandy is wearing his spring finery
Oh boy, has this ever been a winter.  Just two days ago the temperature here at the farm was 73 and this morning it was around 15. Back and forth, back and forth.  Just when we start to believe that spring is really going to happen this year, we get jerked back to reality.  That one day of warmth was so encouraging. I wanted to be outside all day, digging in the garden, setting up the lambing pens, straightening up the barn.  Of course, I did none of those things.  My right hand is still wearing a brace and I had to be at physical therapy for my neck at noon. :-(  To say that I'm not happy with the situation would be a huge understatement!  I've always been a person who believed I could just push on through, but that philosophy is not really working for me at the moment and patience is not one of my strong points either, so these last two and a half months have been physically and mentally challenging.  I'm clinging to the hope that warmer weather will bring some relief and then I can get back to normal (normal for me, which I realize is quite abnormal by most standards).

Luna most definitely needs a haircut!
I've had the call from the sheep shearers and they''ll be here in within a week.  I'm excited to see what the girls fleeces look like.  It's a whole year of work for them and me, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they are as nice as they usually are.  Having all that fleece off should reveal the status of pregnancies, too.  Assuming both boys got the job done this year, Gabbie should go first, as she was the first one I put in with the Wensleydale ram and I actually saw him breed her.  Her udder looks as though she'll give us the first lambs in about two weeks.

Aslan will not be getting his summer "do" just yet
I have hopes of getting the lamb-cam back on-line sometime around the first of next week.  Then everyone will have a chance to see the girls, first in full fleece and then shorn with only an inch or so of wool.  It's amazing how much more room there seems to be inside the pens, once all that fleece is gone.  We'll do some rearranging of pens, so that the pregnant ewes can be seen on camera and, if you're lucky, you may even get to witness a birthing!  No matter how many years I've gone through lambing season, I'm always excited and a little anxious until all the babies are on the ground.

While you're waiting for the lamb-cam to come online, check out the workshops we have scheduled for the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival this year.  They are really, really good, if I do say so myself.  We've got some big names that you might expect to travel quite a distance to learn from and some very popular Kentucky folks offering a wide array of classes.  Don't wait too long to sign up.  We've already had a good response and you don't want to miss out on the fun.