Today begins official Lamb Watch around here. Which means that it has been exactly one hundred and forty five days since Mr. Rochester arrived for his fifty day visit with us. That will result, we hope, in some baby lambs this month, arriving anytime in the days and weeks to come. We've been busy in the weeks prior to now getting ready for the occasion: transforming a portion of the barn from milking stanchion to lambing pens; crutching the girls; preparing a birthing kit; and studying all the books we have (and websites and You Tube videos). We are, I suppose, as ready as we'll ever be. Last time, Emily birthed so smoothly and independently from us, that I do think we were spoiled. This breed - Shetland - is known for that, and it's part of the reason we chose them. But there are three first time ewes, and oh...I won't let myself go to the place of worry. They are strong girls. We have backup vet care close by. We have everything in order. We are as prepared as two totally and completely inexperienced sheep farmers can be. Ahem.
Once all the official reading is done for a day (some of our most referenced books are in that photographed pile above), about birth presentation and umbilical cords and such, I've been turning to a favorite - Barbara Parry's Adventures in Yarn Farming. I've been meaning to tell you about that book for quite some time now - I had the pleasure of reading it early and writing a little blurb for it. I've gone back to it over and over in the time since I first saw it. There's something about all the reference books that is amazing to have at our fingertips always, but there's something just as wonderful - even more so comforting and definitely entertaining - as hearing the tales of a shepherdess who has been round the calendar year alongside her sheep more than a few times. Her words feel a bit like a friend holding my hand through the process of it all - and I have found myself reading her March tales of lambing as a bit of a pep talk on more than one occasion these past weeks.
This morning, in just a few minutes, we'll head out to the pasture to bring fresh hay and water, and a tiny bit of grain to our small flock of sheep, nestled as they are now into their new space, ready for what comes next. And as we do that - as Cinnamon leans in for a hug, as Charlotte follows her lead, as Emily and Anne fight over the primo spot at the grain tray (there is no primo spot but they seem convinced the other has it regardless) - I'm sure I'll find myself once again whispering a little 'You've got this, girls" in their ears. And I hope they do.