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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Winter Lambing Reality Check

We've had our lovely February break from winter -- sun, mild temperatures. I planted peas and fava beans. Two ewes lambed and I wondered if I even needed to put them in the lambing pen, why not let them stay out in the new spring grass?

Then, my black ewe decided that Today was The Day. She dwadled around in the mild temperatures, not really sure it was time to lie down and Do It yet. And the clouds gathered and the light waned and it sprinkled and yes, we're likely to...again...get snow tonight. Sigh. With a wind, and 30 degree temps. Lamb killing weather, when you're wet and newborn and out in the field.

So it's crunch time. She's pawing, lying down, not really pushing the lambs out yet, but thinking that it's soon. Do I leave her out? Then I have to go out in the dark with a light, which spooks the rest of the sheep and probably her as I pick up her new lambs and coax her to come with me to the warm, dry, lambing pen. Or do I get Annie The Enforcer out there and let her put the ewe in? That's pretty stressful for the ewe. I don't want to do that. So I went out to feed the rest in the waning light, fingers crossed. If she' s not really ready to push she'll come in. I serve alfalfa at night. They love that.

I put out the hay. And hear her bleat 'wait for me'. Closer than the far back of the paddock where I've been keeping them penned (major coyote pressure this year). She's coming! I wait until she's in, everybody is nose deep in the manger, slip through and close the barn gate. Then I have to get her into the lambing pen. No Thank You! She weighs 200 lb, she is wet, and not at ALL interested, never mind clean straw, alfalfa in the feeder and fresh water. Bruce, the ram, watches me balefully, but I snapped a lead to his collar while he was happily eating and tied him, so he can't butt me, like he really wants to.

A bit of wet-sheep wrestling later, she is in and I'm panting. She immediately starts munching on the alfalfa, quite happy to be here. I mutter a couple of not-for-family-viewing comments under my breath as I latch the door. Now, she's FINE with being in there. Hay all to herself!

Sheep!

That is not what I muttered. I am quite soaked (winter fleeces hold a lot of cold rain) and the ram is letting me know that as soon as I unsnap the lead he's going to Discuss my behavior with me. I call Annie in to ride shotgun as I unsnap him. They face off, he decides that really, he'd be better off eating, Annie and I depart. Cricket The Puppy is Really Disappointed that she didn't get to help. I tell her 'later'. Annie tells her 'I'll handle the ram, squirt'. I agree with Annie.

So I'll sneak down there in another hour or two and see what's up. Or out, should I say. It can snow tonight, that's fine. Lambing season is never dull.

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