Tuesday, January 13, 2009

on call

Today, my main job was to "assist" the electrician (read: manning the circuit breaker and making supply runs to the hardware store) to get our outdoor plugs working today -- we could not de-ice the water for our sheep in the back pasture due to an electrical issue. My LSH had spent the weekend unsuccessfully, and a bit dangerously, trying to figure it out.* We had reached a bit of a crisis point. It is no fun hauling water all the way back there, and it was a zero sum game trying to provide enough for the sheep before it froze.

Then the call came: a ewe just had triplets (actually, quadruplets, but one was stillborn; this is extremely rare in sheep). No one was at home due to work; could I please go take a look and assist family members who had driven out to help? As soon as the electrician was done, I pulled on my work coat and boots and headed over. After much towelling off little jet-black lambs, and milking out colostrum to make sure all the babies got some (I would be a failure as a milkmaid), and a little stomach tube feeding (I really really hate doing this, it makes me nervous beyond belief), and clipping and dipping umbilical cords, and making sure the littlest ewe stopped shaking and shivering, I headed home. Dusty was exceptionally interested in all the colostrum and other fascinating smells all over my jeans.

This is not an unusual event. When you become a shepherd, you become part of a tightly-knit group of people who, for the most part, operate under the radar. It is really amazing to me, however, how we pretty much all know each other, and each other's stock... to the extent that when our sheep got loose soon after we got them, a call was put out to a local well-known shepherdess (cough (Laurie) cough) who knew immediately where those sheep belonged. This owner described the ewe to me in a few words, and I knew exactly who had lambed.

I am also amazed by how everyone steps up to the plate for everyone else, and lends a hand when necessary. Next time, it will be my turn. Given the relative oddity that owning stock has become, I cannot begin to express the peace of mind this affords. So to all those shepherds who have done the same for me in the past: a heartfelt THANK YOU.

* At one particularly tense moment, as he was testing wires, I happened to call him and his phone vibrated in his pocket. He jumped ten feet in the air, thinking he had electrocuted himself.


  1. A) that was evil doing that to LSH while he was playing with electricity - well done!

    B) What would a shepherdess' life be like without being able to share the joys and misery that come along...and who else ya' gonna call?

  2. oh you've dredged up some memories of ice and stock and hauling water that have been long repressed. i feel your pain.

    you're aces in the sheepherding department!

    Mrs. C

  3. You are the best!! Thanks for taking all my pesky calls last 2 weeks : ) Pepto is well and alive ( what a miracle on Rt 206 : )!!