Archive for October, 2007


October 31, 2007

Yesterday being Tuesday, there was a crowd of women at Sue’s store, Hodge Podge Yarns and Fibers, each with current spinning or knitting projects, and casseroles, desserts, and in one case, a dog: a little black miniature kiddo who looks like a papillon/King Charles Spaniel or something, with ears, that when spread, make her look like the Flying Nun of dogs. There’s much noise and conviviality on Tuesdays, sometimes too much for me, but yesterday, after a morning of preparatory fencing work (breeding group separation on Wednesday), I needed a little r and r.


Margaret the Wonder Dog is also a little done in by too much noise, so she tends to hover on the outskirts at such large gatherings…making sure she gets her share of attention from her “Auntie Sue”.


But this morning was the beginning of a different kind of sociability: time to get the sheep into breeding groups. With my wrist still being kind of delicate, and unable to lift heavy things with my left hand and arm, I needed Lucas’ help. I went out at 7:30, and by judicious and careful maneuvering of fences, was able to get the girls into the shed. By the time Lucas arrived at 8:05, they were packed in tight (can’t jump that way, or at least not easily) in a corral of green gates. We separated out the ones who would not be bred, wormed them, and released them onto their (non)breeding pasture. Then, separated out the two major breeding groups of jacobs, one which included the shetlands, one which included the coopworths. Then, we separated out the coopworth rams, and released the coopworth ewes, who were a little unhappy about leaving the other girls, but we finally got the four of them down to their little breeding area at the foot of the pasture. Then, Lucas carried two of the shetlands into the truck for transport to their retirement home, and put the other three into the winter chicken yard (old dog pen, fence 6′ high), where they will reside, behind more green gates until Saturday, when they are picked up by their new owner. Then, we hauled the big jacob ram in with his girls, released the other set of girls and guided them to the ram pen, where the new four horned ram, Stoney, was waiting anxiously, and finally, released the Captain and his girls. After giving everyone water and hay, we are ready to wait and watch and keep track of who’s breeding whom for the next 18 days. Not shy, there was immediate action in all three breeding groups, and in one, a yearling decided to follow the ram around, while he was following another ewe, eager for her turn. After 18 days, which is one cycle, they will be returned to gender groups and be in these groups through lambing, and into May, when pasture is again available for them.


In the front pen, Fiona tries to convince the Captain that she’s worthy of attention, while Goof “does her nails” maybe in anticipation of her “hot date” with same. Behind this pen, you can see Stoney and his girls in another pen, involved in being sociable.


Stoney is making nicey-nice to Ava, while Limbertwig, just behind Ava, watches intently (this is her first breeding; perhaps she’s looking for tips?), and on the ground in front of him sits Deirdre, biding her time.  A few minutes later, he was apparently finished with Ava, and was courting Deirdre, who seemed willing…Stoney is quite the gentlemen.  Sometimes I’ve had rams who just rush up to the girls, mount them, and walk away. Stoney seems like the type who, if human, would bring flowers and candy and talk a little first.  Just so long’s he gets the job done!


Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

October 19, 2007

Several years ago, on my way home from the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival, I came across a pile of free yard sale leftovers, and spotted a sixties type baby stroller, just the frame, one, in fact, like I had for my kids…big wheels (compared to those strollers of today, which are great on pavement, but on dirt roads, blech!)  So, I picked up the frame, and brought it home and stuck it in the barn loft, where everything is stored that I pick up here or there…I’ve used it when babysitting to take various babies for walks.  But, Wednesday, I came up with another use for it.

John has been feeding the animals while I can’t…still can’t lift heavy things. The sheep are on pasture, but there’s no pasture left, so they need hay every day. Since he leaves for work at 6:15, it means getting up in the dark, and taking a flashlight…seemed like, now that I’m a little stronger, I could do something about that, so I pushed the stroller out to the shed, slid a hay bale onto the seat with dropped back and foot rest in up position, and voila!, a lovely and easily pushable with one hand hay transporter.  So, I’ve gone back to morning chores: hay and grain for sheep, grain for meat birds (also transportable on said stroller.)  It means he can sleep another half hour in the morning, and I don’t feel guilty as hell about his doing all the work.  Yet another step…

The girls are getting antsy: they can smell the boys, and want some action…but they will just have to wait another week and a half.  Meanwhile, they are eating well.

The physical therapy is going well, but I am having trouble learning that 4-6 times a day doesn’t mean 12 and 12 is NOT better, for it tires out my fingers and swells them, and is counterproductive!  Patience is surely a virtue, but not one I’m all that familiar with.  I’m trying!

Catching up…step by step

October 14, 2007

I’m delighted to say that I can type again, sort of…my left hand is cooperating, so I can begin to catch up on stuff. Got my Black Sheep Newsletter article done yesterday.   And today, I’m beginning to post again to this blog.

It’s been a slow coming foliage season up here.  On Columbus Day weekend, I thought perhaps it was just going to be a fizzle, with just a few yellow leaves and a bunch of fallen ones, nothing spectacular.  But then, three days ago, it came…late…the reds, the oranges…it’s quite beautiful.  It was marred by the fact that we’ve been in a monsoon season, sort of, with rain, often heavy, every day until yesterday, so many more leaves are down.  Yesterday, we awoke to 31 degrees on the protected back porch, ice on all the cars, and heavy frost on the meadow.  The zinnias are finally dead with a capital D, the dahlias, protected on the south side of the house, are crinkled on the leaves, but the blooms are still fine.  I guess I’d better find a way to dig up the last few glad bulbs, and dig up the rutabagas, though I think they are okay where they are for the moment.

Lucas came over yesterday, and helped me move the rams into a new paddock, and the ewes, as well, their last grass before switching to  breeding groups and winter quarters and hay in about 2 weeks.  Breeding season is upon us.  That means I sit with paper and pen and ponder which ewes go with which of the two rams.  I do this several times, the lists change, and then finally, when the day comes, there are often a few changes based just on who totally refuses to go where I’ve indicated!  Lucas will come   back to help with this chore, as it takes muscles and dexterity, and the ability to  be clipped  by the occasional horn, none of which is possible for me now.

The meat birds are growing, eating a lot more the last few days.  We still have two weeks to go, or is it three?  But they are definitely starting to look like the chickens which will go in the freezer soon: they’ve lost that little chickie look, thank God.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been bored, with no typing, no knitting, and only just driving…so I’ve spent some time teaching Margaret the Wonder Dog to spell. So far she knows a-r-m (as in give me your arm), b-e-d, and c-o-o-k-i-e.  We’re working on walk and drink.  She sure is a wonder dog.

Hope wherever you are, you have lovely fall foliage, and are enjoying crisp, clear days.  This time of year, with it’s lovely leafy smells and cool days (bright or overcast:  both contribute to the beauty of the leaves in their own ways.) is one of my favoites.