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Happy feet: Toes are only truly happy when you let them out to play. The return of spring has brought out the footwear of freedom, seen here outside the TSC. / Photo by Josh Russell
Today's word on

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"Once you have learned how to ask questions, you have learned how to learn."

--Neil Postman, journalism scholar (1931-2003)

USU JCOM NEWS NOTE: THE JCOM Department celebrates the Class of 2005 Friday with JDay, showcasing the best of student work in print and broadcast journalism, the Web, photo, and public relations. Followed by the annual JCOM Awards Banquet--student awards, 2005-06 scholarship winner, speaker Robert Kirby of the Salt Lake Tribune, all with fine dining. For information or reservations, contact the USU JCOM Department at or 435-797-3292.

Working shifts on lamb watch, students take ewe-turns at birthing time

By Amanda Wouden

MARCH 4, 2005 | LOGAN -- Wearing coveralls, doing farm chores and sleeping in a barn have become familiar requirements for Utah State University freshman Chad Fuller. Fuller is among about 20 students who take turns keeping watch over USU's sheep during class and every night, from 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. during lambing season. Fuller's turn comes up once or twice each month.

"The worst thing about it is the lack of sleep," he said, "and if you have early classes the next day, it kind of wears you out."

Students are expected to complete a list of chores including herding pregnant sheep into the barn, feeding and examining them and cleaning out their pens. Students check on the mothers every two hours. But it isn't all hard work, according to teaching assistant Shannon Kincaid.

"It's really easy," she said. "You just come out here and eat pizza, watch movies and make sure that the lambs are OK."

THERE YA GO, LITTLE ONE: Chad Fuller performs part of the
clip, dip and strip while on lamb watch. / Photo by Amanda Wouden

Students learn about behavioral signs of problem pregnancies -- such as sheep separating themselves from the herd, Kincaid said. Student are taught when and how to assist.

"We make sure everything goes smoothly," said freshman Heidi Simper. "We only intervene if we have to."

Students help with problem births by pulling out newborns from their mothers. All lambs are "clipped, dipped and stripped," said Simper. That means the students cut the umbilical cord, douse the wound with iodine and milk the udders. All lambs are also weighed.

Student do lamb watches from February through April during the lambing season. Cache Valley's winters can be harsh, but students on the lamb watch are comfortably situated inside the barn, about seven miles south of Logan, near Sardine Canyon.

In one corner of the barn is a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen, bathroom, space heaters and a color television set. McDonald's hamburger wrappers, a bag of Cheetos, giant soda-pop drinks and granola bars lined the kitchen counter.

"It is kind of like the dorms, just smaller," Fuller said. "You bring your own sheets or sleeping bag. There is a desk so you can do your homework if you need to."

He remembered homework sessions, but also a night where he stayed up playing X-box. Other favorite pastimes are DVDs, board games and cell-phone chats.

"I don't know if I will ever use it," Fuller said of the sheep production class, "but I definitely have gained a respect for the ag industry."


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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