Saturday, May 27, 2017

Day 20: Excellent English



The sun is just know starting to peek through the clouds this evening as I write this post. I took the night shift last night and all through the night I could hear the pouring rain on the roof. I would periodically check outside on the ewes in the fields and they were all hunkered down, most of them with their lambs glued to their side. Rain is great for the fields, but it is also a threat for the sheep. In Iceland you will notice there are a lot of ditches that are dug along fields. This serves as irrigation. Without them, much of Iceland would be wetlands. The threat of these ditches is that they are deep and when there is heavy rain there is a lot of water flowing through them. Lambs and ewes are usually able to jump these ditches at the more narrow spots and more experienced ewes know the ins and outs of the ditches and can navigate them safely. This afternoon Snædis asked me about a ewe that appeared to have no lambs with her out in the field. Usually, when the ewe is alone and is not distressed, she knows that her lambs have died. Snædis went walking around the field and found her lambs in the ditch haven drowned. I know this is not the best story to start the post with, but this was the first time I had the realization that even though the ewes and lambs are right in front of the barn and house we can not protect them from everything. I keep talking about how we are preparing them for the mountains when there are still dangers close to home.
Enough with the fears of the outside and now for the more positive stuff! 
My rainy night shift last night was an interesting one. The heavy rain on the roof upset our two orphans, so I spent some time sitting with them. They continue to thrive and bask in human attention. The little ram lamb has already figured out the weak links and will cry at Snædis and me when we walk by knowing we will stop. Pug continues to struggle to nurse and instead of working with us to learn to nurse she prefers jumping, running under mom and hiding behind me. During the night shift, I was entertained by one ewe who really enjoys playing with her waterer. I don't think any of us have talked about the watering system. There are either paddles or nozzles in each pen that dispenses water when the ewe pushes on it. It is a really great way to ensure clean water and the sheep have no troubles using it. Que the trouble maker. This ewe spent most of yesterday night playing with the paddle making this *clack*clack* noise. She did it most of the night, letting the water run down into the manure pit. I would walk by and get her to stop temporarily, once I walked away and she looked around to make sure no one would bother her, she continued. This ewe and her lambs were moved into a slightly larger pen with a nozzle instead of a paddle. I was so excited to see that when she played with the nozzle it did not make the obnoxious *clack*clack*. She serves as a great model of how the two waterers worked. Put sound on for full effect.

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Another great thing happened during the night shift, we finally had a ewe lamb out! It had been almost 48 hours of watching and waiting and finally, a yearling decided I would be the perfect person to help her. All the pregnant ewes are uncomfortable and groan and complain, so you are never quite sure if someone is lambing out because of the background noise. They also had their hay cut off during the night, in the fear that we will have to deal with more hulk-sized lambs. This is very upsetting for the ewes and instead of eating, they complain to the nearest person about their plight. 

"I am very pregnant and very hungry, listen to my complaining"
Human Steve returned to do some more power washing and the general "Steve stuff". I spent today taking care of the ewes and lambs, feeding, putting in new bedding, graining; the normal daily chores, as well as, getting in some snuggles with the lambs. We were also visited by the tourists staying in the bedroom on the 3rd floor of the house. For the second time this visit, I was complimented on my English. The first time, it was a group from Boston and after they complimented my English they asked Helgi whether he was actually from Iceland (Helgi was quite insulted but to be fair there was a bit of gloating on my part). I took the compliment and later had to explain that I spoke such excellent English because I was from the United States. This group, however, didn't ask so I will continue to be the Icelander with excellent English. 
Until tomorrow!


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