Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Last night our dog wanted to be let outside in the wee hours of the morning. Being that I am a very heavy sleeper, she had to nudge me several times to bring me fully awake. Reluctantly, I got up and let her outdoors. She did her thing and came back inside. As I was crawling back into the toasty warm bed, I was reminded of my days as a kid when we were raising sheep. Since my brother and I both showed the sheep at the county fair, we tried to plan the breeding so that the lambs would be born in January or February (the coldest months of the year in upstate New York, but also allowed for more time for growth of the lambs). When a mother sheep was approaching her due date, we would watch carefully for impending labor because all too frequently, momma sheep needed our help to deliver successfully. Usually my mother and I would split the task of waking up in the middle of the night to go check on the sheep. What willpower it took to crawl out of bed, put on warm clothes and trudge to the barn to check on the expectant mother! More often than not, the sheep was not in labor and we could go back inside and go back to bed. It was delightful to slip back underneath the covers and drift back to sleep. After a couple of years of trudging to the barn in the middle of the night, my father rigged up closed-circuit television cameras and monitors so that we could just roll over, turn on the monitor and check out the sheep from the comfort of our beds. Ahhh, we were really spoiled then! Of course, it wasn't always perfect; try as we might to get the camera so that it covered the whole enclosure, the expectant mother would sometimes manage to get out of the view of the camera, thus ensuring that we would have to trudge to the barn anyway. And sometimes the resolution of the image wasn't clear enough to make a determination that everything was all-okay and we'd have to go check the situation out in person. What fun we had!