As I rushed to prepare for the forecasted blizzard, I racked my brains over what to do about the lack of space in my barn for lambing. Lucy’s horse Birch had been supposed to leave for a new home last fall. In this scenario I’d planned for the six-month-old bull calves, Henry and Stewart, to have his big box stall. But Hurricane Sandy hit, Birch did not leave, and the twins have been spending their nights in the lambing stall.
Now, where to put my lambing jugs?
I considered and rejected many ideas. I had to have a safe area for newborns where a heat lamp could not be jostled by curious larger animals to fall and start a fire. Another consideration was the ease with which I could move laboring ewes in and out of the jugs, especially in the middle of the night. Though I could have commandeered the calf stall at the back of Moxie’s box, or even part of Birch’s stall, neither of these worked for safety or ease. The lambs really needed the lambing stall.
In the end I built a makeshift new stall for the bullocks in the milking stanchion area.
The above sketch is not to scale — the west side stalls and tack room are indeed wider than the barn aisle! — but it gives the general geography.
I removed the slider bar from the stanchion so both calves could eat from the manger at the same time. I installed nailing blocks on the back of one of the heavy sliding doors and then ran 2x4s from the door to the tack room wall. Next I screwed a pair of old wooden gates to the 2x4s, to form a wall and a stall door.
I had to dig the gates out of the snow. These gates are weather-worn and slightly rotted. The resulting “stall” is not a thing of beauty.
Nor would it stand up to much abuse, though I’ve since replaced the baling twine gate closure with a snap chain. The space is also cramped. However I comfort myself it is only for overnights, and only temporary, for the short weeks of lambing. The main thing is that it is under the barn roof, safely out of the wind and weather.
Although the threatened blizzard passed us by, dropping a mere eight inches of snow, this morning the temperature has fallen to 27° below zero. However the bull calves are lying in dry shavings, chewing their cuds in the relative warmth of the barn.
Now I just await the lambs.