Before our children were born, my husband and I made lists of names for boys and girls. We never wanted to know what we were going to have and ultrasound technology wasn’t reputed for certain knowledge. When our second child was due, we had the technician put her best guess for the sex of the child on a piece of paper and enclose it in an envelope. We gave it to my mother-in-law, who was critical at that time, and though she wouldn’t live to see her new grandchild, we were glad for her to know what she would be. Turns out, Jane was delighted to find that there would be a granddaughter, as Sarah Jane was the first daughter/granddaughter in a largely male-populated family.
I never regret not knowing my children’s gender and don’t wish it to have been any other such scenario. It was an added treasure of discovery on the big day.
I did indeed clean like crazy, restock my pantry, organize laundry and pack my bags before our babies arrived. I sewed curtains and crib bumpers, wallpapered and prepared meals for the freezer. My pregnancy books called it “nesting” – not an original term.
Animal nests fascinate me – I love how trout species will dig out a “redd” to lay their eggs in the water. I came upon a small birds’ nest next to my garden the other morning which had bits of wool from the sheep woven into the thin twigs that were the main construct. The hens in my hayloft have been having a hilarious past month since they discovered they could escape from their breeding habitats to lay eggs amongst 200 haybales that surround them. I’ve found eggs ingeniously tucked into depressions and hideaways every day in feathered, carefully arranged straw ‘baskets.’ It’s Easter-come-early.
Our Laurel, the Merino ewe, is due this week. Her previous owner, Judy Sopenski at ‘Not Your Ordinary Farm’ is my reference. I called Judy to find out if any of her ewes were lambing yet last week. She contacted me to tell me she’d let me know after checking on their bags.
Are you familiar with checking bags? Then you know that when your bag is full, you’re ready for your trip. In this case, if Judy’s ewes’ udders were quite large, full, then she would be able to estimate their delivery. And she put the deliveries at Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. Laurel was bred at the same time as her ewes, and the dates could flux given that she is a first-time mom and I don’t have the same bag-checking expertise as Judy since I’ve not owned a Merino before. The Shetland ewes’ bags don’t fill out until very close to delivery and my experience with first-time Shetland moms is that you might not know they were even due until they’ve delivered, based on udder development.
I think I’ve got some names picked out. I wracked my head, waiting for inspiration while I nested all day. This back is aching, but I purged the lamb-jug of it’s old, moldy, frozen muck and replaced it with fresh bedding. Tonight Laurel is tucked in and cozy with a heat-lamp to keep newborns from chilling. She’s not been shorn, so I’m eager to assist a lamb, or lambs, with latching on for their first colostrum and warm milk. She is exceedingly wooly and a little one will need a road-map to find the nipple.
Yes, and thanks to technology, I’m plugged in to watch the Lamb Cam on my phone or my computer whenever I want to check in on her. Tonight she’s been shifting about a fair amount, trying to get comfortable. I don’t know if I’ll sleep a wink because any minute I might be throwing on my overalls and boots to head out to the barn. But the nice thing is that there’s a cat on my lap and dogs at my feet while I type this from the comfort of my house, staying considerably warmer.
Oh! She’s up again! Any minute now…
Oh, wait. She’s back down.
If you would like to watch the LambCam 2014 on your computer, click on this link and then type in ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ for user name, ‘lambcam’ for password (minus the single apostrophe signs.)