Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Slimy Fuzzy Babies

Heh! In case you didn't know, I fell of the face of the Earth!

Okay, not really, it's more like I've been on a roller-coaster ride through the very hot place of eternal suffering that people keep talking about. Nothing life threatening - unless you count the many times I have stood in the kitchen banging my head against the wall. There were computer issues but that's gotta be a homogenized complaint as it seems to be the case with everyone. There was the fact that our generator bit the dust. #10 012 It is uncanny, really, that this happened right when we've finally saved enough money to buy the two solar panels that we needed to be able to power our current needs and possible actually run some 'normal' household appliances. We don't even use the generator much but it does have one essential place on the farm - pumping water. For the first two years we lived on the homestead, hubster and I hand pumped ALL the water. Water for laundry. Water for animals to drink. Water for drinking. Water for the garden. Water for baths - you get my drift. After each of us injured ourselves with strains and pulled muscles, we finally conceded that a generator would have to be purchased in the interim between being able to afford a very costly solar water pumping system and no longer living a life that rivaled the Flintstones. These two extra panels were the first step to the water system. I say were because we just spent that money fixing the generator. And the car broke down on the way home. And something fell on my wheel so I couldn't spin for a few days until I stopped having panic attacks every time it was mentioned and let hubster work his magic on it and fix it. Have I mentioned that it has been cloudy for a week and we've had little to no solar charging going on? Universe! I hear you! You can stop hurling your little fiery balls of chaos at me.

#10 009What one needs to get themselves back on track after such a week as this is some knitting. So, I finished the first monkey sock while waiting for #10 to have her lamb. I've been waiting since Friday night. See her just standing there saying, "Go ahead, fuss over me, I'm in no hurry to have this kid"? Just a recap for those who think we are morons for calling the Cotswolds by number instead of name. About 4 years ago, when we first got the herd, thing 3 was a little overwhelmed by trying to remember all the names of the herd. It was frustrating for him and made him feel bad. We agreed, as a family, to name them the number on their tags. It made it easier for us to keep their records and thing 3 could read the numbers easy while at that time reading names was a bit more frustrating for him. Friday night, I moved #10 into a lambing pen because she had already 'dropped'. Though, this can mean anything with any ewe as we shall see. Generally, it means they will lamb within 10 days or 2 hrs. 10 dropped and was squatting as though she was contracting. Turns out, she was doing that for days last year which if I had had the sense to look at my birthing records (gee, is that why I'm always writing this stuff down - so I'll actually learn it?) I might not have been going down to the barn (or many more times than I - hubster doing it) to check on her like a nervous midwife. 10 is due any time and loving all the extra petting, hay, and general fussery that has surrounded her over the week.

Last night, #7 dropped. Before dinner. After dinner, there was this:
lamb 003

"Hi. I'm a cute little ewe, aren't I? Hey, after you dry me off with that warm towel, could you get me something to eat?"

lamb 004So, as you see, #7 exhibits the more rapid resulting of pre-labor into 'real' labor and efficient birthing. Here, she exhibits the irked expression of a mother who has been moved into the labor delivery room (known here as a lambing pen where you can nurse your lamb, eat as slowly as you need to without the other ewes scoffing down all the hay while you're getting your new little lamb trained to listen to mama) AFTER giving birth. No problem, they are happy, warm, and #7 has been munching away (to the jealousy of the ewes who aren't ready to lamb, yet) on her own hay and grain. They stand there, half ignoring their own supply of food, looking on through the gate as she eats and I swear I hear them saying, "hey, she got more than we did!' - or is it just the mama conscience in me?

lamb 007Nothing like the innocence and sweet dependence of a babe to break you out of your whining and remind you that this whole living gig is really beautiful. Also, I know it may be uncouth to say so but it is also quite entertaining to watch something so new figure out what will soon become basic survival skill. You don't run full force into the fence cuz it doesn't feel so good. You stay under mama and then you don't feel so cold. Mama may kick you if you are fooling around under her, pulling on her hair and disturbing her already sore udder if you don't mean to relieve her by emptying it. And, always the most trying, telling, and funny but nervous 'first sign' of the lamb's health - the journey to figuring out how to nurse. It's like the instinct is securely intact but they just need a road map to the nipple. Is it under your chin, ma? No. Your arms? Nope. Maybe it's back here (she gives a gentle but reprimanding kick that says - get out of there! - when they sniff around the rump. Eventually, they figure it out. In my earlier and too eager days, I'd jump in the 'help' but I soon learned that humans only muck up the flow of communication between the ewes and their lambs. So, now I sit on the sidelines, and giggle a little at the simple miracle that any of us animals survive.