Ranching Feature: Cameras help Scritchfield keep an eye on things

Scritchfield had cameras installed in her barns so she could more closely monitor the expecting mothers.
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Scritchfield had cameras installed in her barns so she could more closely monitor the expecting mothers.
MEEKER I As a single parent with a business to run, Ann Marie Scritchfield figured she could use a helping hand.
Or at least an extra set of eyes.
So, she had cameras installed in two of her barns. That way, she could keep an eye on her ewes during lambing season, without ever having to leave the house.
“I actually read an article about it in one of my sheep magazines. I remember thinking that was what I needed, so I looked into it,” Scritchfield said. “Like, especially for night checks, with having a little one (daughter Eva) and doing it all by myself, it’s pretty tough.
“So I have two cameras. I have one in this barn and one in another barn,” Scritchfield said. “I use a marking harness on my rams when I’m breeding. I’m checking ’em every day, so I know exactly the due dates of every ewe. In the barn, I have four lambing jugs, individual pens, and then I have one big area. I put them in on their due date, usually. The camera just films that bunch in the big area.”
The wireless cameras transmit a signal to a standard TV screen in the house, where Scritchfield can monitor her ewes and lambs.
“It was set up on two channels. That way I can watch and see if I need to go down or not,” she said. “Most of them do fine on their own, but in February, you know, the weather can be really bad.”
Scritchfield said the video monitoring system works pretty slick.
“Some people put them in their horse trailers. Then they can put a screen in their truck and watch their horses,” she said.
The system is simple to operate, Scritchfield said. Her son Mason installed it for her.
“Mason pretty much set it up for me,” she said. “He’s more tech oriented than I am.”
It used to be, before she had the wireless camera system, Scritchfield would have to make night checks during lambing season, which tended to upset the expecting mothers.
“When you walk in at night, all of the ewes get up and look at you, so you’d have to sit and let them settle down and watch for a while,” she said.
Scritchfield said her ewes tend to lamb during the wee hours.
“Mine lamb at night. Ellen Nieslanik always tells me hers don’t lamb at night, but mine do,” Scritchfield said. “I don’t know how she talks to hers, but … I think I had most of mine (born) between two and three in the morning.”
The camera system helps Scritchfield, who also has 60 some horses and operates Sable Mountain Outfitters, keep a closer eye on things during lambing season, which can prevent loss.
“Just as an example, last year, I was cooking dinner and I kept thinking I should run to the barn, but I didn’t. I kept cooking and we ate. Then I ran down to the barn and I had a dead lamb,” she said. “And it was just the sac was over its face. So if I had been there, I could have saved it. So I was kicking myself.
“I didn’t lose any this year,” she said.