As of Saturday morning, 8 am, no puppies yet. As a matter of fact I don’t even think we have pre-labor yet but it’s hard to tell when your patient has limited communication abilities.
The good news is she seems pretty comfortable and she’s stopped eating and doesn’t want to go outside except to potty, and then she only goes a few feet from the barn, so we are getting closer. At least I hope we are getting closer, because then I can get some sleep.
Last night wasn’t exactly restful and I probably won’t have time for a nap today. It wasn’t a bad night, it just didn’t include much actual sleeping. Baby watch is like that. I know animals have been giving birth for thousands of years but I just like to be there with them, just in case they need me. So far, they’ve only needed me twice out of over 70 births but I feel better knowing I’m there if they do.
Imagine if you will, the barn is about 350 feet from the house, it’s 31 degrees, it’s not too chilly, the snow is wet because it’s so warm, and the crunch of my boots sounds different than it has the past week when we had single digit temperatures. And it’s dark outside.
Lucky for me I don’t have to worry about a single thing in the dark because I have Maremmas who scare off anything and everything that could potentially harm me. So it’s a nice relaxed stroll to the gate, the dogs are calm and relaxed and quietly trot over to greet me. My escorts insist on some scratches but are completely silent (my favorite way to be at 2 am). They walk me to the barn, a couple sheep in the breeding pen move around but no one starts baaaing about breakfast because even they know it’s too early for that.
I slip into the barn and Tarn doesn’t even raise her head just looks at me from her bed which looks two sizes too small now that she’s basically a planet with legs.
This sweet face quietly watches, oblivious to all the commotion of laying hens, turkeys and roosters declaring it time to rise and shine just a few feet away.
I sit with my beautiful girl for 30 minutes or so watching for contractions, irregular breathing, anything that might mean “it’s time”. Seeing nothing of consequence I take myself back to bed.
My biological clock gets me up early every morning. I’ve been waking up at 5 am for so long I don’t even need an alarm clock anymore, I just wake up. This time I know I’ll be up for the day so it’s not nearly so romantic.
I pull on my dirty “barn clothes” in the dark so the hubs can sleep in, then it’s off to the kitchen to make coffee in a travel mug because I don’t have time to sit and sip. The border collie needs to be sent outside and put back in his kennel because he’s not welcome in the barn right now. The trudge to the barn is comical as I pulled on my muck boots without benefit of socks and my hoodie is somehow melding with my fleece jacket, the collar of which is inside out, and I’m trying to re-organize the two with one hand because coffee is occupying the other. Top this all off with a fantastic display of bedhead adorned with my favorite reading glasses (in case I need to see to post) and there you have it, me at 6 am.
This time the sheep are up, they know its breakfast time, and they are loud. The dogs hear something and take off for the back fence barking threateningly. Tarn is still in her bed although she’s on her other side this time, now I know she’s moving around a little. I take my wheelbarrow around to the hay shed and as soon as the lambs see me they all start complaining about how they are starving. They swear they haven’t eaten in weeks, although I know it’s only been about 12 hours, so I can totally see their point.
Princess is that naughty kid that thinks she gets to put her feet on the table. I keep telling her she needs to wait patiently but apparently that message isn’t getting through. On the other hand, she’s adorable and will usually get down as soon as I pet her, so it’s hard to be upset about that.
I’m really liking the strip lights I hung in the lamb feeder, it’s bright enough that I can really see the sheep to count noses, look for injuries or signs of sickness, and really just enjoy their fuzzy faces. Best money I’ve spent recently.
Once everyone is fed I get to sit back in the barn with Tarn and watch her rest some more. She looks bigger than she did last night and much too big for this swimming pool bed, but she doesn’t seem uncomfortable and so we will let her be. It’s a great bonding time for her and I, usually she’s so active that she gets a quick ear scratch then off she goes to run the fence line making sure it’s safe. It’s nice to have prolonged time with her. Rocco has been staying in the barn, in a separate pen, where he can see her. He will hear things and disappear out the dog door to bark with his parents and then come back in and watch her some more. He’s very quiet in the barn, as if he knows she needs to rest.
After an hour or so I have to head back to the house so I can start the inside chores and get a refill on my coffee. I wonder how many steps I’ll rack-up today running back and forth from house to barn, like a little kid waiting for Santa to come, I can’t wait for labor to begin. Maybe it will be light out by then.