Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lambing done for 2012 and other notes

Our 2012 lambing season came to an end the weekend before last when little Salsa came in to the world without fanfare early on Friday (the thirteenth!) morning. Actually, I'm not certain of the day or the time because we had a fairly busy weekend, but she's definitely here, so that's the main thing. I forgot to post notice of her arrival, too. Apologies for that. It must have been a routine birth, the only strange thing perhaps being that all the ewes and lambs except the retired two were confined in the barn, because of the sighting of that murderous dog again.

The final tally was six lambs from four mothers, including one male and one female singleton, a set of male twins and a set of female twins. They all seem to be doing just fine. We're pleased we didn't lose a lamb. Partly this is the result of good husbandry and vigilance, and of course the dreaded night check routine now done for another year, but of course some of it is just good luck.

We had a group of students out Sunday to trim hooves and dung-tag and give shots, and so the sheep are in pretty good shape, all the necessary husbandry taken care of until shearing time. It's now my job to arrange the shearer's visit as soon as possible and before fly-strike season really gets going.

In other farm news we have direct-seeded the spinach and peas and the spinach is already coming up. Leafy greens and kale sprouts are coming along in the new greenhouse, while tomato, pepper, basil, and squash sprouts are doing well in the regular greenhouse. The grass is only growing slowly so far. The days have been warm enough and very sunny, but there's been no rain and the top surface of the soil is dryer than I've ever seen it this time of year.

This lack of soil moisture is keeping the weeds down in the main garden, which seems like a good thing but it's not. We use tillage as a primary form of weed control, and I know the soil in the main veggie garden is just full of windblown grass and weed seeds, as it always is. I'd like them to sprout soon so I can till them under before we plant out.

There's a good steady rain forecast for the weekend, so we may be on time for tilling the resultant weeds and planting out the rest of the main crops right after graduation.

Part of my own serious business last week, and one of the reasons I forgot to post news of Salsa was that I was forced to track down the owner of that bad dog. I wanted to talk to him face-to-face because I felt that the authorities were soft-pedaling things. I was furious to see the bloody thing on our land again, especially during lambing season, but now we know who the owner is and where he lives, I was able to confront the guy (as politely as I could manage) in his own driveway and we had a "full and frank" exchange of views. He promised to be more careful. I promised him faithfully I would try my best to kill the thing the next time I saw it and so he'd better be more careful.

I have his phone number now and so if I see it again but can't get a safe shot, he can at least be called to come and get it. If I have a good safe bead on the thing though, and if it's on our own land, I'm shooting it, and have told the owner so. I want him under no illusions as to what will happen if he relaxes his vigilance. He's a family man and the kids apparently like the dog. Hopefully he's motivated to make sure it stays tied up so he doesn't have to explain to them why it's dead.

I spent a good deal of time trying to explain to him just how I felt about such a horrible killer being so close to our lambs. I hope I got through to him. I don't want to kill any dog, but if the owner can't or won't control the thing, I'll be glad to kill it just to see the last of it.

One thing that was reassuring was that it's possible to drive by and look down his driveway and see if the brute is tied up. If I'm ever in any doubt, I can drive by there and make sure the dog is secure.

I'm still flabbergasted, though, that this fellow has been so blase about letting this killer dog run. It defies common sense. Now every farmer in the district knows which dog it is that's been killing livestock, and he's bound to be held to account. Chickens are one thing, but suppose it kills a field full of lambs, or worse yet, a stupid alpaca baby. Aimee and I have no truck with the silly things ourselves, but those alpaca farmers get thousands of dollars for one baby. Our own lambs are worth hundreds to us, and it's clear that a brute like this would kill every lamb it could catch if it went on the same kind of spree that took our five chickens in less than an hour.

A fellow might be bankrupted, owning a dog like that.

In happier news, last weekend we also went for a nice drive in the pick-em up truck, ostensibly to look at a bush hog for sale (which turned out to be an overpriced piece of rust-garden junk). Alongside the road we saw one of those tiny tillers for sale. I'd been wondering how I would handle the extra weeding we expect to have with the additional garden space we've brought under cultivation. The owner demonstrated it for us, and I could see that it ran fine and had little visible wear, so I was surprised when the asking price was just $50.

We paid down our fifty dollars and took it home. Later that afternoon I started it up just fine and tilled up the inside of the big greenhouse a second time, just to see how it ran, and it did fine. But it wouldn't be shut off. I had to go away and get a pair of insulated-handle pliers to pull the plug cap off.

While most folk would be unimpressed by finding something wrong like this after making such a purchase, I was happy because I'd found a good reason for the price to be so low. And something easily fixed to boot.

So we're now a three rototiller family. Six lambs and three tillers.

Indeed, we're rich.

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