My friend’s sheep is pregnant. This being my friends first sheep pregnancy, she is on pins and needles awaiting the birth. This has lead to numerous phone calls back and forth, and since we had gone through several batches of piglets, I know how stressful it can be. I’d like to imagine my friend and I as hardened farmers, chatting back and forth over a fence, with a piece of hay sticking out of our mouths, wearing cowboy hats- speaking with a southern drawl. We’d be looking to the sky knowingly and saying something like “Yup, rains finally comin’. ‘Bout time.”, before I’d hike back up to the barn and throw on a weathered rain poncho just before the heavens opened up. Of course, I wish I was as cool as this farmer image in my head, but the reality is more like the following…
Tranquil chicken photos… of the chickens free-ranging as the snow is melting! Don’t worry, no sheep photos of poor Lisa.
I’m standing in the front hallway with cell phone in hand, am looking at the weather report on a screen. It says the temperature is dropping below freezing. I make a mental note to tell the Chef to plug in the chicken water heater this evening, as I am heading out the door, and I am already late. I am trying not to trip over our pug, while the smallest cat is trying to claw my ankles – successfully destroying yet another pair of socks. I grab a scarf and wrap it stylishly around my neck, hoping that in doing so, it covers the toothpaste stain on my shirt. Farm puppy #1, now at 90 pounds, has decided now would be a good time to try to run between my legs. Tripping over rubber boots in the hallway, my phone buzzes and reads: “I’m worried about Lisa.”.
Lisa, I should mention is my friends sheep. I have no idea what her three children are named, but I do know who Lisa is. I am locking up the front door, tripping over chickens that have decided that the sunniest and warmest spot is our front porch, and realize that this is requiring a phone call response. I jump in the car, and call my friend on speaker. “Hey. So what’s wrong with her?”.
“Well, she’s just looking really uncomfortable, and she’s making those noises that I make when my back pain’s really bad. Like when it hurts so bad that all you can do is moan? Well, that’s what she sounds like. I think she’s trying to get into the one of the barns, but it’s all blocked in with snow… which I have started shovelling, but it’s 4 feet deep. I don’t know, maybe her labour’s starting but I didn’t think she was due yet!”.
I ponder this, while driving to my physiotherapy appointment. “Well, what’s her hoo-ha looking like?”. Yes, I realise it’s not clinical, but in our house, that ended up being the exceptionally mature and scientific term we used. We had been looking at our pigs back ends daily when we thought they were ready to farrow, while also watching their teats and bellies getting more and more swollen. The Chef I discovered, really didn’t like me asking “Did you look at the pigs vagina today? How’s her vulva?”, and so “Hoo-ha” became the go-to word.
“It’s swollen. But I don’t think she’s ready, I think she’s going to have twins. She’s huge!”.
“Do you think you can clear out the path to the barn so she can get in?”, I had visions of poor Lisa having her twins outside in the snow, after she was unable to get access to the barn she had picked for her maternity ward.
“Oh yeah, I got this, just one more thing to do.”
“Well make sure you’ve got lube on hand and your nails are trimmed just in case, and let me know if something happens!”.
It’s at this point I realize that I’m sure we’ve had a visitor or two in our barn wondering why there’s a tube of KY jelly in there, but was too polite – or fearful – to ask.
So I arrive at my physiotherapy appointment, incognito as a normal clean person. There are already two clients sitting in the closely placed chairs of the waiting room, with only the one remaining seat between them. It’s now of course, I hope that I didn’t step in any farm poop on the way out the door – as close proximity situations like this is usually when I notice things like that. I squeeze in, shoulder to shoulder with the strangers and I look casually at my boots, praying they are poop-free. I’m certainly not dog-hair free. Of course, that’s when the picture of Lisa’s swollen vagina pops up on my extra large iPhone Screen, in full colour. The message that followed, “What do you think?”.
What do I think? What do I think!? I think I’ve never closed my iphone screen down so fast and thank god that the image was so close up that the people on my left and right had no idea what that swollen pink mess was! I got enough of an eyeful to feel sorry for the sheep that’s for sure, but the woman to the left of me surely thought that was the ugliest baby ever to have its photo taken.
After my appointment, I sit in my car in the parking lot and study the vagina. I send a return text “Maybe 48 hours? I don’t know…”. A speedy response of, “That’s what Jim said!” makes me laugh, as the ability to send out sheep vagina photos to every farmer so that they can weigh in their opinions for some reason makes me laugh. I sit wondering where Jim was when he received the text. He definitely wasn’t in a physiotherapists waiting room, that’s for sure. He’s far more of a southern-drawl cowboy hat wearing farmer kind, and frankly was surprised that he even had a cell-phone.
But technology certainly has made our farming easier. There are Facebook chicken groups, that hold poultry swaps and American Guinea Hog forums that can answer anything from farrowing to butchering. Got a question about your animal? Chances are, there’s a Facebook group for that. You can quickly post it, and instantly 10 other farm animal owners can weigh in, often having gone through the same thing themselves. Technology is assisting the farm community knowledge to be spread, which I’m so grateful for. You don’t even need a cowboy hat or a fence to lean on…
Several days later, still on sheep-watch, I texted my friend “Any word on Lisa?”. Lisa still hadn’t delivered, and after looking at her photo once again, I texted “I think her hoo-ha needs to be ‘pouting’ more. It’s not swollen enough.”.
“Well, I’m pouting. I want this damn sheep to birth!”. Sadly, there are some things that technology just can’t help with. In the meantime, we sit and wait!
P.S. An update… Lisa gave birth to healthy twins! Both momma sheep and friend are thrilled! And Lisa also got her barn of choice, just in case your were wondering!