Nesting & Naming

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 ‘’ for user name, ‘lambcam’ for password (minus the single apostrophe signs.)



Sheep secrets - taking bets on Laurel's due date?

Sheep secrets – taking bets on Laurel’s due date?

Laurel, resting on her laurels

Laurel, resting on her laurels

8 Wheelbarrows Full

8 Wheelbarrows Full

Nicely cleaned out and refreshed with light straw, a heat lamp and the LambCam!

Nicely cleaned out and refreshed with light straw, a heat lamp and the LambCam!

Piled high

Piled high

LambCam log-in page

LambCam log-in page

This is how it looks on my phone when I tune into the LambCam

This is how it looks on my phone when I tune into the LambCam

Laurel thinks eating hay, drinking water and birthing will be just fine in this lamb jug.

Laurel thinks eating hay, drinking water and birthing will be just fine in this lamb jug.



10 responses to “Nesting & Naming

  1. Oh my goodness – I love the lamb cam! I can see the back of Laurel’s pretty little head as she sleeps! However will I get any work done as I am now going to have to watch this 24/7. Tammy, I just love this post, esp you finding eggs throughout your hay bales! You are a wonderful writer – and farmer!

    • Thank you for the compliment, Loretta! I think you’re a wonderful writer, too! And I hope to share the farm with you in person next time you’re in Vermont. I know, that watching the lambcam thing is addictive! You think, “oh, if I just watch another minute, I might see something important happen!”

      Won’t it be funny in the spring to find chicks hatching out in the hayloft?!

  2. You’ve done a beautiful job preparing Laurel’s nest… so looking forward to seeing her beautiful little lambs. Loved this post, as I always love your posts. Thank you so much for sharing the details, not to mention the LambCam link!

    • Thank you, Rebecca! I’m happy to prep so thoroughly, one less thing to fuss about when the serious business of lambing begins. Never want to say “I should’ve” wherever there is some way I can prepare.

      Happy mild-day-before-the-storm!

  3. Best of luck. We are not expecting lambs for another week or so. The very best of luck with Laurel … but remember, a watched ewe never lambs. Get involved in something which requires your full attention … that’ll bring the little ones on! D

    • 🙂 This time around, I’m watching from a comfortable distance.

      After Laurel lambs, I’ll have a month or more before kidding & lambing with the Angoras and Shetlands begins.

      I tapped trees to collect sap during this brief thaw, before the big storm. That, and cleaning whatever was thawed out over the past week, have been my something which requires attention other than waiting for Merino lamb(s.)

      Can’t wait to hear about yours!

      Thank you so much for the stop-by, D. I’ve got an email going out to you and J re:real estate next door!

      • Argh! Sugaring! When we lived in Indiana we had a few grand old Sugar Maples that Joanna justed loved-to-death … and we tapped them. Loved it. Perhaps, if we should be lucky to move back North, we’ll have that pleasure once again. I’m feeling bad for myself just now, listening to the wind howl and the rain … but I’m feeling really, really badly for you and yours … and Laurel too. What (excuse me) crappy, crappy, crappy weather. Hang in there. D

        • oh the weather outside is frightful…

          and the sugaring is on hold while it is below zero again tonight…

          and the due date estimate is off by a week or two – after shearing yesterday we see that Laurel is not nearly so imminent and the farmer I bought her from might have been overestimating the due-date(not might have, did!)

          Lastly, I’m sorry for my Angoras and the sheep that we did shear yesterday, shivering today and through Tuesday, I think. What a burly winter we’re having. I’m in a huge winter-vortex state of mind. Will it be one of those years that BAM! spring just shows up one day?

          Meanwhile, any lambs your way yet?

  4. Oh I just love reading about all the excitement on the farm this time of year! I bet the animals have their own way of welcoming all the new comers and congratulating the new mothers! If they could only talk, the stories they would tell! I need to set up a visit with my little group as soon as the weather stays nice enough to spend the full morning outside! <3

    • Yes, Julie! Mid-end of May and early June for lambs!!!!! And nicer weather.

      I know, I make up conversations between the animals all of the time. I imagine they think I’m over-the-top, but, oh well! They love me anyway!

      Hope you and the kiddoes are having fun trying to bring in spring! Love keeping up with you on FB!
      Thanks for the stop-by, my friend!

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