Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Motherly countdown

Daisy [left] is daughter to Rosie, and is now our oldest ewe at seven. Audrey is daughter to Coral, and it's her first lambing season. Both their mothers died last year due to ketosis.

The anticipation for lambing to begin is thick in the air. As the bellies of my ewes swell to capacity, I can begin to see glimpses of lamb heartbeats in the womb. After last year's tragedies, I am more anxious than usual for this our 6th lambing season.

I have begun my annual techniques that generate eye rolls in both farmers and sheep - scanning each belly to determine if it's triplets again, feeling udders even though we are still 3 weeks off and udders won't swell until a couple days before lambing. A woman must provide herself with as many assurances as possible after loss.

I worked all weekend in glorious weather on the garden, the sheep stalls, trimming feet, prepping lambing areas, and tending to the graves of Rosie, Coral and their 6 lambs. I'm pleased the wild daisies I transplanted from the river to the graves are coming up again, full of life after being fed from the creatures below. I still miss Rosie. Tending a grave is comforting though. I've assured them this year their daughters will do fine and their lambs will thrive. More assurances.

I will hang simple white cotton prayer flags in the barn, made of my father's hankies...one for each pregnant ewe, and two for Rosie and Coral.


Anonymous said...

Well that was a tear filled post. I know from a couple of years ago here at our farm what losses like these can do to you and how neurotic I become at lambing and kidding season. Your girls are beautiful and your past girls will watch over them and you too..trust that. I will keep a close eye on you over the next 3 weeks and say many prayers that all will go well. - MaLinda

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Oh, thanks so much. Last year really knocked us both out, it was just two long weeks of slow death...we pondered how sad it would have een to have had a first season like that, so I'm thankful we had 4 seasons under our belts. You learn, that's for sure. I will hope all farms success too, knowing sometimes, it goes a way we don't plan.

Sharon Stanley said...

No one has a kinder heart than you...I hope (and think!) things will go fine this year...worry won't change a thing, but good preparation will and it sounds like you are prepared..

Cathy said...

The portraits of your girls are magnificent!

I cried for your losses last year, and will be thinking good thoughts for healthy lambs and mamas this year.

Anonymous said...

They have the sweetest faces. I wish the very best for them and you and remember well your losses last year. Not this year, though! A happy lambing season for all.

Anonymous said...

They have the sweetest faces. I wish the very best for them and you and remember well your losses last year. Not this year, though! A happy lambing season for all.

Unknown said...

I don't live on a farm (yet) but I do have several pets. I know how painul it can be. We lost one of our sweetest, and I do mean sweetest (her nickname was sweatpea because she was so sweet) cats to cancer a couple of years ago. I still tear up at the thought. All will be well with the births.

Claire MW said...

Such noble faces and gentle eyes. They are beautiful. I will spread the word with my flock to send healthy lambing vibes to yours. Perhaps they will return the favor.

I don't think I had previously noticed the sort of caramel colour that your sheep have. What breed are they?

Our Icelandics udders were huge about 3 to 4 weeks ahead of lambing last year. That was a surprise to me. Now, my first Blue-faced Leicester is due February 16th. I am nervous and wish it was later, but we bought them from Southern Indiana, already bred. Her udder is huge already. If yours only swell a couple of days ahead, you are very lucky to have such a predictable warning sign!

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Hi again, and thanks so much for the kind thoughts. We'll take it!

Claire- they are a hair sheep, Katahdins. I had color in my line which I like. They say the darker hooves are more resistant to foot rot and such...Never have to sheer, no tail docking, no shaving for lambing. Really nice calm breed by sheep standards, medium sized. Wonderful mothers, and lean meat [for those of us that do eat meat, we take only the males]...The dark sheep are usaully really a beautiful coco brown when born, and usually go lighter as they age- but some seem to stay darker even in maturity. The udders- well, every year they surprise me. This year I'm over anaylizing everything - including 'oh no, she look like she'll prolapse'...Lord! We shepherds can drive ourselves nuts.

I hope everyone has a safe lambing/kidding/calfing season.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~