March 9, 2014

PG or not PG - That is the Question

Buttermilk and the Girls. South of the Gnat Line. Copyright 2014

When I was a little girl, I was often scolded for pointing - especially when I observed a woman who was preggers.  My mother would just about die a thousand deaths, grab my index finger and lecture me with, "Young ladies do *NOT* point!" 

Since I am an only child (and a curious one), you can well imagine my fascination with other families who had children and their Momma was expecting [again].  My mother told me many times that when she was growing up, Nana called it being "PG" (almost in a whisper). That when any woman was "PG" she did not go out of the house after she was showing. Wide-eyed, I imagined the word pregnant - and it's condition - was something that existed in the realm of scandalous.

Fast forward to Chapter 50+ and my now life with sheep.

Last March, we acquired our first official flock of sheep (ewes).  This does not include Buttermilk; Buttermilk is my bottle baby who came home with me in November of 2012 just hours after he was born and found abandoned in the barn of his birth.  He's just my pet sheep - er, third born. (Shhhh. Please don't tell him - not only does he believe I'm his Momma, he believes he is an Ovine stud.)

Where was I?

The ewes. Right.

We borrowed a ram and hoped to successfully breed our ewes for what we have planned to be our first lambing season this Spring.  This was to be our first ever attempt at animal husbandry.

The ram arrived at the end of October.  The ram had an extended stay with the girls.  The ram departed the Dirt Road Farm in January.

It is now March.

I readily admit, I am an anxious sheep owner. Since no one bore witness to the actual "husbandry act", not only am I pondering in my head, "Did the visiting ram do his job..." I managed to reinstate my childhood bad habit: the one of pointing.  I've also been reduced to bribing them with treats so I can rub and feel their tummies - thumping them like a watermelon.  I stand and stare looking for any change in their milk stations; I even squat and crawl on all fours to try and see up underneath them for any evidence of "PG".

I've read the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book for all things Sheep and oddly enough, there are no hints or real time information on how to know if a ewe is preggers until the lamb is basically falling out of her backside.

There's a tell-tale sign.

Since I prefer a little more heads up and "the sheep book" was of zero help, I moved on to Google where all modern-day farmer wannabes get their most up-to-date and reliable information. I must have typed forty different search versions of "How do I know if my sheep are pregnant?" Apparently, Al Gore's internet doesn't have much pregnant sheep experience or at least no one is sharing the scandalous details online. I considered searching: "How do I know that the man-ram did his job?" But I gave up instead.

As we eagerly await the first day of Spring - having survived Snowpocalypse, the ice storm that followed taking our power for some days along with it, the Valentine's Day earthquake and the on-again, off-again cold/warm days of early March, I find myself in the pasture continuing to point my index finger, now having added squatting and staring to the mix. While I have only their best interests at heart, the girls are not real big on my efforts. They all glare at me and look as if they would love to collectively scold me as my Mother often had to.

Patience, while a virtue, is not my strongest personality trait. (sigh)  However, I have no choice but to wait for Spring's official arrival and see in the weeks ahead if, in fact, the man-ram performed his gallant duty and the girls will be gifting us with our first lambing season.

South of the Gnat Line
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