Monday, March 31, 2008

Ingleside Farm Maternity Ward

Two days of cold, constant rain have turned the paddocks into soupy, slippery muck.

Although I don't know her due date, my big white ewe Phoebe is starting to look kind of close to lambing, and I didn't want to take a chance on having her decide to lamb out in a sloshy, cold mud puddle somewhere, so I decided it was time that the Ingleside Farm Maternity Ward was open for business.

It's not fancy, but on a gray, drizzly day, it's kind of snug and pleasant, with the sound of the rain pattering on the roof overhead.

All I had to do was open the barn door, and half the flock poured inside. I just shoved the two I wanted into the pens, and then pushed everybody else back outside. I put two ewes inside because they are more relaxed if they have a companion. The ones I put inside are Phoebe and Mona, because they are the two who are looking closest to lambing.

I don't know if they will really lamb very soon. It could still be a week off, for all I know. But for now they seem happy to have dry, clean, private beds and no competition for their supper, so they're happy to play along.

Here's Phoebe in her pen, with my bed, chair, and my snuggly barn cat, Madrigal, in the foreground:


There are three lambing pens. The middle one is a bit bigger, so I can fit two or three ewes in there to wait, if several are due soon and I'm not sure who will go first. Thanks to my creative configuration of work lights and extension cords, the whole area is well lit, even though the barn itself doesn't have electricity.


Here's Mona in the third pen. Because the pens are so open and airy, with mesh walls, I can see into all three pens from my bed, without having to get up and check on the ewes separately.


And here's the waiting area, where I'll be spending a lot of my nights very soon. The bed is actually very comfortable. It's made from 4 hay bales laid side-by-side. Then an old wool blanket to cover up the prickly hay. Then a camping mattress, two sleeping bags, and an old satin comforter (the satin is good because it repels dirt and hay chaff and can be shaken out easily). I'll bring pillows, books, and snacks with me when I come out to actually sleep here.

Maddy the cat spends most of her time here now. She loves the barn bed! She can get in and out of this room even when the doors are shut, by climbing up the wall and squeezing in the gap next to the ceiling that leads to the 2nd story of the barn. It's surprising to be sitting there, quietly listening to the sheep chewing their hay, only to have a cat suddenly drop from the ceiling!

11 comments:

Martha said...

I think having a cat suddenly drop from the ceiling would scare me near to death!!
But it does look cozy in your barn :)

Rhea said...

I'm impressed with how cozy it looks in there! I love your makeshift bed. It looks wonderful! I think it would be very peaceful, besides the cat dropping ffrom the ceiling. lol Thanks for the pictures! I'm eagerly awaiting the first lambs...thanks for sharing!

Amy said...

That's a very nice setup you have. The bed sounds very cozy and makes me want to make a hay bale bed too. I remember doing the "labor watch" with my rabbits and I would take a book to read out to the barn and sit in a chair and wait. It's quiet, quality time...just you and your animals.

Anonymous said...

Very nice set-up! Now all you need are the lambs. :o) -- Kris

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

I just love it! What a wonderful, cozy place. Lucky animals - and lucky you.

Anonymous said...

is this your first year lambing??

Nancy Chase said...

No, it's my 3rd year.

Ness said...

Holy cow, it's like a 5 star sheep resort! :-)

Nancy Chase said...

With room service! :-)

markmc03 said...

How wonderful! And kitty room service with a cuddly warm bundle! I hope Maddy purrs a lot. Great music in the night.

Nancy Chase said...

Yes, there's nothing more soothing than a purring cat!