As mentioned before, Violet had her lambs and is happily wandering the pasture with her little flock of three in tow. Lily gave birth to four, so far bright and hearty lambs. Daisy on the other hand is a source of debate.
What if she’s not pregnant vs. She is definitely pregnant
Waiting another few weeks would undoubtedly solve the mystery, but I’m not that patient. I am a problem solver who spent the weekend working out the details to our solution.
Beginning today, the children have been divided into teams (Boy one/Girl two vs. Boy two, Girl one). Each team is equipped with 3 pregnancy tests. They work on humans, why shouldn’t they work on sheep?
The kids have never seen these sticks. They’re getting three because I’m guessing they’ll use at least one stick to pee on themselves. But once we explain the importance, and especially once we mention the reward, they should be good to go. The trick will be the need to have the sticks placed in the urine stream for five seconds. I began to worry for them. Should one hold the sheep while the other holds the testing stick? Should we find a way to restrain the sheep on a raised platform? Should they simply be on shifts lying quietly in the barn at night until the ewe forgets they’re there? . . . I was going a bit crazy until I remembered that this was not my problem; the kids can think for themselves. My part is to provide the testing sticks, the explanation, and the reward. How they get that five seconds of urine from an anxious, jittery, possibly pregnant sheep is something they can brag about in the future.
It’s not easy being the problem solver, team captain, chief cheerleader of unusual exploits. My heart is swelling with something somewhere between pride and satisfaction to picture one of them lying on the ground trying to baptize their stick and stay dry. There’s a lovely sense of primordial justice to the fact that this won’t be possible (the dry part).
Last night I realized that this little exercise needn’t be limited to our current crisis. Come August, September, even November, when there hasn’t been a ram in sight for ages (they won’t know the difference) they can be sent out as needed to check all the sheep. It ought to take hours of hit and miss attempts of catching and holding. There is nothing, I realize, to stop me from responding at will to a few weeks of feral behavior with my own little sense of fair play. It is a calming and beautiful thought.
Beginning with the commencement of our games today, once again, God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.
Violet is on the right.
I have a thing for pregnant creatures. Nostalgia is undoubtedly involved (when one has peed on a stick and seen the positive sign ten times, one feels connected to pregnancy) but it’s the awkwardness that whimsically bedazzles me. Pregnant creatures wobble and waddle. They huff getting on and off their feet. They look like someone took and shoved them into the wrong skin. I relate to that. Awkward is something I don’t seem to be able to get away from.
In fact, there are times when awkward is the only bridge over troubled waters. This is the place I find myself in lately. When I’m not having a zen moment about this, it ticks me off. I’ve been backed into the awkward corner one too many times. To heck with being chased around by that guy, I say. Today I’ll go out to meet him. Tell a story on my own terms that in its day was plenty awkward.
Once upon a time, I worked somewhere that required me to wear long skirts, nylons, and sneakers. With my future in fashion temporarily stalled, I was working in an industrial kitchen. Daily duties did not involve vigorous intellectual work outs, but I’ve never minded practical tasks, and I enjoyed the people I worked with.
The kitchen bathroom was a one seater tucked beside some chemical storage just beyond the food prep areas. Following a routine visit, I carefully washed my hands and exited to return for duties. Two feet out I encountered a shy male co-worker, visibly agitated and walking past me rapidly. His head was down. He held a hand to the side of his head as if he was shielding his eyes. I found it strange, but he was such a goodhearted man that I forgave him his quirks immediately.
Other people’s oddities don’t feel that awkward to me. I smiled, shrugged and carried on. Which is when a friend of mine (who happened to be a nun) began tearing madly across the kitchen. Hair nets are encouraged in industrial kitchens; running is not. My friend sprinted in panic from the far end of the kitchen, past an aisle of stoves looking neither to the left or to the right. I stopped to observe. Interesting moments were not common in our line of work. To my surprise she ran straight at me, at last lunging for my side.
Unbeknownst to me, my conservatively long skirt was offering a whole new way of viewing me. On the side of me my co-worker had passed in such haste, the bottom of my skirt was caught up in the waist band of my nylons. Young nun friend gave it a mighty yank and I stopped sporting a most revealing new style.
The best metaphors are ones that really happen. I think that story works for my life about now. (Although where my sprinting nun will come from I still wait to see.) But back to the pregnant thoughts. Before I could post the picture of the three ewes above with guesses about who was carrying what, Violet gave birth to four beautiful lambs in the dirt just outside the barn. Three survived, one did not. This is another true metaphor. Some things die. Yet on the other side of an awkwardness that cannot be bypassed, other things are born so new, fragile, and hungry for life, that they take your breath away.
And so I trek a bridge I’d rather not.
A few hours after self guided lessons
Buster is rambunctious. This wanna be farmer is wondering if he is destined to be veal. I am told that 1200lb beef cow is his destiny. A scary thought at the moment.
After some days inside, I thought it was time to get outdoors yesterday, at least while I cleaned up the stall. Anabelle was ready. Out the door and thirty feet away without looking back. She was revelling in space and air and sunshine when Buster’s soft little moan called. (Roughly translated . . . mom, where are you? The door is open. What do I do? I don’t want to do it by myself.)
This was very sneaky. Buster didn’t mean much of it, but that is what he said.
Anabelle mooed softly. Buster moaned back and Anabelle was there. Sniffing, rubbing, talking. Stuttering steps.
Three pregnant sheep and a nervous Misty looked on. Misty has anxiety issues. (Also control, gluttony, and patience issues.)
Buster saw Misty, trotted away from Anabelle boldly, sniffed Misty’s nose and trotted around to check out the rest of her.
This triggered panic attack. With Misty’s disorder, panic equals I hate the world and I cannot stop running. Misty bucked kicked. (Anabelle gasped when she saw those hooves in the air only a foot from Buster’s head. I did too.) Then Misty took off running. Circles. Pause for catch your breath obesity moment. More circles. One of Misty’s favourite ways to say I hate the world, is to chase the sheep. Occasionally, she looped towards Buster, mostly she ran laps with timeouts to charge at the sheep.
The sheep, bellies full of baby lambs, have unfortunately not been keeping up with their prenatal exercises. I had thought the snow was prohibiting movement, but based on the successful mad dashes away from Misty every third circle of the pasture, the snow was not as much of an impediment as I had thought. Buster was unphased by the goings on. He was ready to explore by himself, thanks. If anything, the fat galloping pony gave him confidence. Ten feet he would run. Anabelle moved in front. Twenty feet the other way. Anabelle ran or walked as needed. Buster went where he wanted, but Anabelle stayed in between Misty and Buster at all times.
The sheep begged to get inside away from equine insanity. I have a soft spot for expecting mothers, so I let them in. A few minutes later, Misty was begging to get inside. She never chooses in, always preferring an open field, but even she had had enough. It was time for somewhere quiet. Safe from that nasty black thing in the pasture. The only one at peace was Buster. I put Misty in, made sure she and the sheep had hay and water and left Buster to it with the whole pasture to himself.
Anabelle appreciated the arrangement.