My life has been incredibly busy of late — which explains the recent absence of blog postings. I suddenly sat up in bed late last night, realizing that although I thought I had been almost keeping up with my to-do list, I had totally forgotten to post blogs on Monday and Wednesday.
Rick and I had an out-of-state trip planned for last weekend and early this week (Friday, December 1, through Wednesday, December 6), so I called our ultrasound technician last Thursday to check in. After so many years of ultrasounding our pregnant ewes, I knew two things for sure: I never get much notice of where we are on the schedule (we usually hear a day or two before she arrives; 4 days at best), and the date of her arrival usually falls about 45 days after we pull our rams. That 45-day date is next Tuesday, December 12, but because we would be away for several days, I wanted to confirm that we were safe in leaving.
Like always, Carol was in her truck and driving to yet another ultrasound stop. She answered the phone with “Oh, I’m so happy you called. You’ve been on my list of people to contact!” We made some small talk and then I mentioned that we would be gone over the weekend. Since it was already Thursday afternoon — and I had only pulled my rams at the end of October — I figured we were safe for the weekend. That’s when Carol replied, “Oh, that’s not good….” Whenever she says that, I KNOW it’s not good! And it turned out that we were scheduled to have our ewes scanned on Sunday afternoon. However, we had made a commitment to haul and deliver some lumber on Monday to our son and daughter-in-law in North Carolina, and there was no way to keep both appointments. We had scheduled this trip weeks before, based on everyone’s schedule, so it wasn’t something we could just reschedule at a moment’s notice.
The bigger problem was that, over the years, I have developed enough experience with ultrasounding to know how it works. I couldn’t simply ask Carol to reschedule us. Carol makes big loops through regions of the country between Iowa and Idaho, and she tries to catch each farm as she drives through at approximately the right time for their scanning (which must be scheduled so that the last-bred ewes are at least 30 days into their gestation and the earliest-bred are not over about 95 days gestation). If I were to reschedule, my first-bred ewes would be too far into their gestation at her next swing through to get any usable information, resulting in my paying for a service that gives me much less to work with. I knew that it was either take the Sunday scan or end up having to take my chances with no scans at all. I told her to please keep me on the schedule until I made some calls and called her back. I was hoping that I could figure out a way to still make it all work.
Needless to say, my mind was racing. Instead of laundry and packing late on Thursday (which was my plan for our early departure on Friday), I worked to arrange a trustworthy team for the ultrasounding. My first calls were to our farm helper Seth and to Josh and Emilly Brodeur of Brodeur Family Farms, all of whom have helped with our flock many times in the past. I knew that if this was going to happen on Sunday, I had to have at least one of these three friends on board. Thankfully, everybody was willing to help, and plans were soon underway to get my sheep scanned on Sunday. Although Seth, Josh and Emilly had been here for ultrasounding before, I worked to outline every step on paper so there would be no questions when the time came. I put together a list of helpers who agreed to come and catch sheep. I made lists for pre-scanning, scanning, and post-scanning. To collect the scanning data, I put together a clipboard that included descriptions of each ewe. I worked late on Thursday — not on lists of things to take on our trip, but on making sure that everything would move smoothly on Sunday for the ultrasounding. The trip was crowded out of my mind as the sheep took priority.
The next morning, with everything in place for the ultrasound, I finally shifted my focus back to the trip. Although we had planned to leave midday, we didn’t pull out until about 6:30 that evening. I wanted both Seth and Josh to see what I had prepared for them, so we waited until they could stop by after work to look things over and get a quick run-down. When Rick and I finally left, my mind kept running through my ultrasound preparations, searching for problems or things I might have forgotten. I hated leaving in such a rush — but at least I had found a way to get the lumber where it needed to go and get my ewes ultrasounded on the same weekend.
We’ll take a closer look at the actual scanning in Monday’s blog.