Friday, March 16, 2007

Eye in the Sky -or- Big Sheep is Watching!

You are being watched! IF you're in our barn, that is. The little black bubble you see in the middle of this photo is our new "Sheep-Cam" for "Sheep-O-Vision" in the house. With lambing coming up, my thoughts turned to how would I be able to check on the ewes in the lambing jugs in the barn without really disturbing them when they begin labor.

My DH came to the rescue! He recycled an old camera system that was due for the garbage into a monitoring system for me to be able to watch the sheep from the comfort of the house! The extra cable you see in the upper right is for when and if we decide to include the ram's side of the barn as well at a later date.
In this second photo, you can barely see where he dug a trench for the cable from the barn to the house. Here he's installing the cable from the ground up into the house itself. This blue conduit, which my DH calls "Smurf Tube" will protect the cable from the elements and is paintable, so it will actually blend into the house - that is whenever I find where the paint can went with the touch-up paint.

I can't believe how hard he worked at this job! He rented a trencher from the Rent-All in town, hauled it out here, and dug the trench to bury this cable. This was no easy task - every time the trencher hit a rock it would stop. Every time a stone caught up in the chain drive of the actual cutter, it would stop. The trencher itself was a real piece of you-know-what and because of that, a job which would have taken about an hour took four hours! And I was of little help as I couldn't really lift anything or run the machine. (Although I did manage to trip over both my own feet and the trench taking a nasty fall backwards.)

I am in awe of this man, who has, on occassion, forgotten or overlooked my birthday but will drop everything to do something to make my life easier. Now I also know that part of this is that he enjoyed putting the system in and watching the sheep from the Home Office himself - trencher aside. But I will have to watch what I say from now on as I remember making an obscure comment about wouldn't it be nice to be able to see the sheep in the barn without having to be in the barn...that maybe someday I would be able to afford to put in a fancy monitoring system. Well, Voila! There it was! Bob's your uncle!
And here you see the monitor on my desk, next to my computer. I am sorry about the flash, but you get an idea of what it looks like. I will be dividing the back area (from this aspect) into two lambing jugs, one for each of the two ewes we have "incubating" this year's lamb crop. Now I realize that this monitor will not take the place of physically going in and looking at the ewes during labor when they may show signs of distress or a non-normal presentation of the lamb being born. But it will be a nice tool to use in checking to see if and when a ewe starts her labor. This is true especially for Mountain Niche Amanda, as Amanda is our "shy" ewe. She will not do anything but watch us. Although she has begun to eat in front of us, she was notorious for not letting either one of us see her and Mr. Skittles doing anything other than standing. While poor Skittles was doing everything but standing on his head, if Amanda saw a human even thinking about viewing her activities everything would come to a grinding halt.

Well, have we got news for you, Amanda! :-)


Franna said...

Don't you just LOVE the barn camera!!! Sheepie voyeurage. Reduce the middle of the night trips to check on ewes and lambs. We've used one for three years now and wouldn't be without it. Your DH is a keeper for sure.
-from Auburn, WA.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Who needs flowers and birthday cards when you get Sheep-O-Vision and fencing? Yes, these men of ours show their love for us in practical ways, mostly. We have GIRLFRIENDS to send us fun/cute stuff and cards!

Lisa said...

We had one for years, and I'm going to use your post to remind my husband of how great it was. We've got to stop moving our winter pens every year though, or finally get a barn. At one point, we left the sheepcam running up on the internet, and had lots of school kids watching and leaving comments. I could watch from work then, too, but found I just fretted a lot. They're hungry! They are out of water!

Enjoy your's.

sheperdchik said...

Wow, how awesome. I picked one out at Circuit city, but have yet to purchase it. From the looks of the udders at shearing time this year, we'll not be lambing until a little later than planned so they'll probably lamb on pasture this year again. But I'd still like to be able to see what the sheep do in the barn when I'm not there. Do they play poker? Talk about me behind my back? I just want to know.

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Your amanda makes me laugh :-D I have one just like her. "grinding to a halt"----your description also makes me laugh thinking of both our "shy" sheep. :-D
Good luck with your eye in the sky.

Tina T-P said...

Go Ralph! How wonderful to not have to make that trek in the middle of the night :-) Good for you! T.

Lauren said...

What a man! I am so impressed. He makes beer; he sets up surveillance systems. What can't he do? Hmmm... when are you guys coming down south for a visit. I have a few chores that spinal fusion man cannot manage right now. Free Kiltlifter for the man who builds me two lambing jugs!

sheperdchik said...

Kathy: I'm waiting with baited breath. Did your shearer show up on thursday?