Thursday, February 28, 2008


Spring around here means jonquils. Pretty yellow flowers lifting their heads to the sun.
Nope. Don't see any of those.
Spring around here means perfumed breezes full of witch-hazel blooms bursting in the sun.
Nope. Don't see any of that.
Spring here means flocks of high-flying geese, barking like dogs, they form arrows way up in the sky, all day the clouds come, all night they can be heard.
Yup. I'm seeing clouds of geese. The trick is to listen closely enough that you can finally see the arcs of flying formations before they are out of earshot.
Spring here is bouncing lambs, making me laugh at their joy for life.
Nope. Haven't seen any yet.
Do you have any signs of spring there?
I hope so.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I wonder....

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night?
I do. I find myself thinking about things, long before I realize I am awake, when I should be sleeping. Sometimes, it is my barking dogs. I hear them bark, maybe they even wake me up, and lay there trying to decide if it is one dog barking or two. The young dog has a short repeating bark, and she runs back and forth, from the road to the pasture while she barks. The older dog only runs when she is excited by something intruding into her area. If they are too close to the barn, the yard or maybe even the sheep, she runs too. The older dog is big, and her bark is lower in tone. I trust the big dog to know what is worth barking about, and what isn't.
So I stay in bed and wait to see if whatever has them barking....goes away. If it seems like there is too much barking excitment, I might get up and open the window to hear better....If it isn't too cold, I may walk outside and listen.
A couple of days ago it was a herd of screeching dogs running after something. My creek fencing has been battered by floods this winter. First the posts were washed out, and the fence lay on the ground in two curving stripes. The next flood moved more posts and looped the fencing into a tangle on the downstream side. This last flood must have broken the fencing....since one line wanders through the bushes and rocks....who knows where the end is....wonder how many posts have been lost? The herd of dogs came up the creek bed....a few feet from the ewes fencing and between the ewes and the rams. We had to run to the creek to make sure they didn't jump the fencing. We shot a few times in the general direction of the hills. The dogs left, but I need to fix the fencing to avoid having a trail too close to my ewes.
During lambing season, I usually wake up in the middle of the night and catch my breath as I fly out of bed to seee if they had a lamb in the barn. It doesn't take my body to get accustomed to jumping out of bed every couple of hours to go check the barn. Then I wake up without barking dogs....and quietly walk around sleeping cats, dogs, and sheep to peer into the dimly lit barn. All shepherds know the signs of a restless ewe digging into the bedding. Turning and sniffing the bedding as the ewe rises. Usually I am checking in the night for a week or more before the first lamb arrives.
Not this year. It is almost March, I know I had a ewe bred the 13th of October, and I know she wasn't the first ewe bred. For some dumb reason, I can't seem to pin down the first day a ram was in the pens. I know there were three breeding groups by the 17th of at least a dozen ewes could be exposed, and some before the 14th. Windchime, who I mentioned being bred in a blog was bred on the 13th....she would be due around the first week of March. But, perhaps there were ewes exposed before Windchime...and I'll bet that was the case. That means I could have lambs born around the first week of March....or even before that??????
I, theoretically, should be checking the barn for lambs. Why is it different this year?????
I can't get there from here.
We are again iced in, waiting for the temps to get above freezing. Waiting for a plow...or warmer temps to melt the ice. I had to lean on a shovel for every step between the house and the barn yesterday. We went out twice. Once in the morning for feeding, and once before dark. Ordinary years, I would be walking around the pastures, watching sheep, and watching bags on the ewes. trying to predict who would lamb next. Well, can't do that this year. Can't shear. Too cold....too icy....too soon.
Dang. This is no fun.
I'll slide down to the barn in the next hour. Leaning on my improvised ice-pick. Trying not to break something valuable on my body.
Anyone seen spring?
Are the ice storms done yet?
I wonder.....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

skating on thin ice

I remember skating during the winter of my 7th grade. We put on ice skates in the warming house....took off their rubber guards, and lurched across the rink in graceful sweeps.

Walking on ice is not the same. Especially when the ice rink tilts crazily down hill.
You may remember that I am not particularly fond of winter, period.
Well, I don't like it any better today...even tho the sun melted the satelite dish, and I can now get more than three channels.
I found some scant makings for a pizza, and a box of Christmas cherries in the back of the frig....that was not ever cleaned. Ha! Now, if I didn't have a giant fear of running out of diet coke, I would be fine. The mail man got here today. That is the first vehicle to go by since monday morning. At least there are no major trees blocking our escape.
If we get some warmth tomorrow, maybe the ice on the road will soften. I hope so.
The sheep are still barely wandering out of the barn. Their hoofs don't go into the they perch with feet close-together, trying to reach some melting sleet to drink.
I let a few cats out, but they keep coming back to scratch on the screen and come in.
In the city, if there was ice on the sidewalks, we walked in the snow, or folks put salt on them. We could walk a few blocks to 7-11, or some such place. Not out here.
Oh well, I have electricity, I can make more tea....I'll live.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

still winter

For those of us trying to escape the long winter....we didn't.

If I see another of these storms coming....I may get in the car and drive south.

Actually I had about 10 minutes warning. Then we had to jump in the truck and drive to the feed store. Why do all winter storms come just after shepherds have run out of feed and hay?

So, we drove the five miles to the feed store in driving sleet, actually it took 15 minutes to get the ice off the windows....but on our county road there were no other cars anyway. We waited our turn with the other 15 people who were also out of feed, and loaded up....driving about 30 miles an hour on the way home. What fun unloading all the hay and feed in the sleet and rain....whee!!!! That stuff hurts.
Whatever makes me think this is a good thing to do? This is dumb, dumb, dumb. The really fortunate thing is that the electricity has come back on. Thank you for TV, Computers, Microwaves, and Water. hurray! Water!!!!
My brain must not work at all any more. We finished feeding the sheep, and came back in....but didn't run extra water. Dumb, dumb, dumb! We had rain, hail, sleet, snow the size of snowballs and then rain. Rain is bad in the freezing temperatures.

How bad is it?

Well, in order to walk down hill to the barn this morning....we had to pound holes for our feet to fit into in the layer under the ice. One-half inch of ice does not give under your feet. So we took turns prying ice off the three inches of sleet on the ground. We spent hours, it seemed, walking our inside dog over the ice.

How bad is it?

The inside dog won't go outside. I found she had done her thing outside the kitty-litter box. Unfortunately, I didn't see her pile when I cleaned the kitty-litter box. Oh well, my shoe will clean up eventually.
When you are sitting around in the dark trying to keep the wood fire come up with all kinds of thoughts. We put the ice chunks from our holes in the ice....into a pan on top of the wood stove. Then we had water for the inside dog and the cats.
We wondered why we don't keep chicken grit anymore for throwing on the ice?
The bird food, I threw out the door, slid across the ice like a puck in a hockey game.
We wondered if anyone will come down our road to scrape the ice off?
Believe me, it won't be melting any time soon.
We wondered why we didn't have a cupboard full of food for such emergencies?
I took the opportunity, of the electricity working, to bake bread and cook some oatmeal.
Dumb try to make oatmeal on top of the wood stove just evaporated the milk.
As I was picking myself up from the ground, I wondered how long I could take chances with the physical work of raising sheep before I get hurt.
This ice storm may convince me, I need to slow down.
I'm trying to stay calm. Electricity helps a lot.

How many days will we be iced-in?
I don't know.
How bad is it out there?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

wait, wait, wait

Are you tired of waiting?
Do you secretly walk into the barn hoping to find a new lamb?
We all know it's not time yet....but do you grab under your ewes to see how long it will be?
I really don't know what you are doing reading this silly blog.
I don't seem to have any brilliant plans to improve my sheep, their fleece, or my bottom dollar.
I'm not full of great pie-in-the-sky advise about how your can make improvements to your sheep either.
I don't even have photos right now.... My camera is full of them....but they just haven't hopped onto my computer yet.
Oh well, I'm boring and bored.
Some of my blog links are absent too....Some of them have lovely photos....but not of lambs....and so I'm not excited about those blogs either.
I did have a good friend suggest the type of shears to buy, and offer to come show me how to cut that old dirty fleece off my ewes....and eventually my rams. Thanks for friends!
I find I am looking forward to doing just a ewe or two on a day or two.
The thought of having a big shearing with all the physical catching and pulling and pushing of sheep and fleeces....and meals....and all that comes of having every sheep sheared in a week when they all have to be kept dry and safe.....Those thoughts now cause me anxiety....I'm looking forward to NOT having a big shearing day...or two as my sheep numbers are so high.
Wheee! I'll be free of waiting for the shearer to fit me in....I'm free of paying a shearer who won't trim hooves if they need it....who won't worm the sheep as he goes. Who won't come back for months if some sheep is sick or wet. I can pay for more hay instead of buying gas for a shearer who lives hours from my barn.
Sometimes things work out the way they are supposed to.
Even if they work out kind of funny in our minds.
We need to do the best we can for the person we are.....the place we live in....and the times of the days.
Five months of gestation....exposure sometime in September?
September, October, November, December, January, February.....If a ewe was bred on the first day of September....she would have already had a lamb. If she was bred on the 15th day of September....She would have already had a lamb.....So assuming some ewe bred when exposed in September is going to have lambs in February....I maybe should go out to the barn again.....
Wow....I hope it warms up soon!