Life in the Slow Lane: "Still No Lambs!"

Tubby Tiny

Tubby Tiny

Yawn.

This is getting ridiculous! For over two weeks now, I've been walking out between 2 and 3 AM to check on Tiny. Stumbling out is more like it. Sleepwalking is really close.

She looks so slim here!

Over those weeks, I've watched her belly slim as those babies--I know there are at least two of them in there but I'm sincerely hoping there aren't three--drop into position for birth. Even Cinco the ram has gotten tired of the never ending wait. About three weeks ago he became really aggressive, his rancor aimed only at females no matter their species.

Miss Piggy swiftly put him in his place and he knows better than to head butt me, but a few human girls took the brunt of his bad behavior. I assumed it was an instinctive reaction, him trying to keep potentially jealous and dangerous ewes away from the one that carries his genetic material. Whatever the source of his bad behavior, he gave it up a few days ago. I think he's suffering from the same exhaustion that I am. In any case, he's now back to his normal, pain-in-the-rear self, following me around begging for more chin rubs and ear scratches.

Just to be sure that something wasn't really wrong with Tiny, I called on my goat friends to take a look. They all agreed she looked ready to pop. Then Doug said the fateful words. "I'm guessing she'll hold out for the full moon," he told me. "That's when all my girls go."

I groaned because the full moon was then ten days away and I couldn't deny the possibility that she'd hold out until then. That's what my cows had all done, too. Now that there are only five days left until the full moon I'm beginning to think he's right.

Through the miracle of synchronicity, Mike, the guy who turned me onto Dorper Sheep, dropped by and offered to look at her. (I love it when things like that happen.) His input was both helpful and terrifying. Although he also agreed that she was close, he said that there were a few signs she hadn't displayed yet. At least not completely. Cows, sheep and goats will 'bag up'--their udders filling with milk--just before delivery. Although Tiny's udder had gone from non-existent to something the size of a small muskmelon, Mike said it should get larger still. Poor girl! She's already walking like she's got a rock between her back legs. Then he told me the story of the ewe who delivered twins only to fall over dead three days later because the third lamb had been breech and hadn't delivered. Yikes! I guess that's why I've been consistent about going out every night even if every walk is a disappointment. I know all-to-well how bad things can get when they go wrong.

My worry only got worse when I actually caught on to the possibility of triplets, and that set me to repeating a new mantra: "Two teats, two lambs. I am not bottle-feeding the third one."

So, with no new lambs to report on this week, I thought I'd share my latest garden experiment. I've leapt into hugelkulture and started building my first hugel, which looks like a tangled mess at the moment. What is a hugel? Why, a large log (of which I have so many) packed tight with branches, leaves, used chicken straw, dried leaves and compost. In a few weeks that tangled mess will be a dirt-covered mound that is busily composting away while I grow my spring veggies on it.

photo

"The Huge"

The beginnings of the hugel

The log at the base of this section came out of the orchard where I put it back in 2011. Year after year, I piled dirt, clippings, chicken straw, cow poop and branches on top of it. At some point a plum or apricot pit made its way into the center of the pile and turned into a little tree. I'll be interested to see if it ever bears fruit. Pulling the pile apart today revealed the most gorgeous dark brown soil I've ever seen. Moosie helped with the digging and turned up a buried toad. There's hope for him, because this time he remembered not to pick it up. I reburied the toad inside a cinder block--nothing better than a toad in the garden! The chickens and turkeys were very excited to work over the newly exposed area. And well they should be. It was full of insects and worms.

I thought Miss Piggy might be interested in putting her snout to that dirt, but not so. Ah, the life of a pregnant pig. She eats her pig chow and takes naps, occasionally going out to see what the sheep and turkeys are doing. That, and begging me to come tuck her in at night after I make my first walk of the night to check on my recalcitrant ewe just after dark. On the way back to the house I stop in the pig coop to say goodnight to my piggy girl. By then, she's burrowed deeply into the hay, but that leaves one side of her body exposed to the cold. So while she grunts plaintive "thank yous", I pile hay on top of her like a blanket and give her ears a final scratch.

After that, I go to bed to catnap my way to 2 AM when I'm up and about again. Five more days to the full moon. Yawn.

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