Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sheep studies

The 2014 Captive Wildlife Care and Education first years came out to Womerlippi Acres yesterday, along with instructors Tom Aversa, Cheryl Frederick, and Meg Anderson, to learn all about sheep wrangling and sheep care. Watching from the sidelines and taking these pictures were baby Rhubarb and Aimee.

It was a fairly hectic day, but a good time was had by all, except possibly the sheep, who, however, are now all set for the winter, having had their hooves and dung tags trimmed, their FAMACHA® checks done, and their spiffy new USDA scrapie prevention ID tags attached.

All this made for a fast-moving day of college-level instruction and praxis in animal care.

I've written elsewhere in the blog about how important a set of lessons this is for these young students. Go check out the older pages for those ideas, here and here and here.

Here are the photos Aimee took:

First up, here's a fat Englishman telling Americans how to wrangle a sheep.


Learning the safety hold and how to trim the hooves


 A slightly insecure lamb. Need to get that lamb-butt on the ground.

Meg shows them how to trim.

 Not the textbook safety hold, but this was a well-behaved lamb.

 That one would make a nice Corriedale show lamb.

It's hard work. A lot of bending and grasping.

Meg has it all under control.

This one got away, and was only recaught after she went through the swampy puddle next to the compost heap. One student said that she nearly lost her cookies, the poor lambie was so gross after that. But that was in some ways what the instructors wanted out of the day -- all romantic notions of the world of animal care evaporated in one swell foop.

A very tolerant lamb.

This is the kind of concentration we want to see.

The full-on sheep service team in action.

 Getting down to details.


A brief moment of pain and then it's all over.

And again. All fourteen sheep needed this procedure.

A full-court press on a ram lamb.

Tom gives a lesson.

The safety hold is extremely effective. One relatively small person can hold a very large sheep in this position long enough to get a lot of work done.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Birth announcement.

Here is little Edana Quinn "Rhubarb" Womersley, aged less than one hour old, the photo taken in the recovery room of Operating Theatre # 1 at Waldo County General Hospital, Belfast, Maine, United States of America, around 4.00 pm on Sunday 31st August, 2014. The time of birth was 3.15pm. 

Little "Roo" was 8 lbs, 2 ounces, 20.5 inches long, and is already a very well-behaved baby.


This is a special baby to me of course, since I'm her daddy, but she's also a special baby because she's a survivor, on both her father's and mother's sides, of two particular families that have not recently been adequately fecund for their genes to proliferate, yet who, in my humble opinion, did far more than their fair share to protect British and American liberty and justice in the 20th and 21st centuries.

(I'm doing a lot of driving back and forth from the hospital and so I have time to think on who she is and why she very nearly didn't make it. It's a miracle of sorts.)

She is the daughter of Dr. Aimee Lynn Phillippi, who herself is the daughter of Richard "Dick" Phillippi, a Vietnam veteran who loves his family deeply and no doubt will love his grand-daughter just as much, but who has chronic lymphocytic leukemia as a result of Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War. Her grandmother on her mom's side is Judy Phillippi, who was one of six brothers and sisters, but this is Judy's only precious granddaughter. Her great grandmother Miriam Summy is still alive, although ailing. She is by all accounts pleased as Punch and has told everyone in the retirement home. She had better live for a bit yet because she has stories to tell Roo, stories about farming and preaching and about being part of the Church of the Brethren, an important German-American Peace Church community. Miriam has written a book with all these stories, a copy of which will one day belong to little Roo.

Her father, writing this, is Dr. Michael William "Mick" Womersley, himself a six years veteran of the Royal Air Force, especially the RAF Mountain Rescue Service, of whom more than a dozen veterans have already sent their best wishes. She will one day meet some of them, and will always know that any of them will do just about anything for her if she ever had to ask.

She is the grand-daughter of Mary Jean (Watson) Womersley and Gordon Womersley, chocolate makers of Sheffield, England. Both died of Alzheimer's disease a couple of years ago, so neither lived quite long enough to see her, something her father will regret as long as he lives, but that couldn't be helped, mostly because of his own military service and chosen career, which meant that he would marry and father a child only very late in life, at 42 and 52 years' old, respectively.

There are three blood aunts and uncles, uncle Matthew and aunt Erin Phillippi and aunt Carol Womersley, as well as auntie Dee, a proper "Sheffield auntie", not a blood relative, but a real friend in need, who looked after her farm while she was busy being born. And there are quite a few great aunts and great uncles, especially great uncle Stanley Womersley and great aunt Barbara (Womersley) Laxton, the son and daughter of the Kinder Trespass veteran George William Womersley, and the brother of Hexam Abbey musician Ronald Womersley.

Her paternal grandfather Gordon was bombed out and evacuated during the Sheffield blitz in WWII. He served in the British military during the Korean War period, but was luckily not sent overseas. Her paternal grandmother also survived the Sheffield blitz. Grandma Jean did so almost as a single child, since her father, this little mite's paternal great grandfather, was serving in the British Army, first doing heavy rescue in London, then in D-Day preparations on Salisbury Plain. These were long years, but they came after Arthur's earlier three years WWI service in the trenches, as well as several more years Army service just to have a job during the Great Depression. Her paternal great grandfather was thus lucky to have survived WWI, and his wife Leticia (Jones) Watson, a Welsh farm girl from Pennal, near Machynlleth, only managed to have one child, another having died in childbirth during the emergency years. This meant, of course, that her grandma Jean and father Michael were lucky to ever live too. Her other paternal great grand-father was sent to Iraq, and was a Kinder Trespasser and amateur writer and artist, while her paternal great grandmother was a nurse for wounded WWI veterans.

There were also uncles and great uncles and various cousins in the RAF, and in the British Army. 

Grandma Jean's only living cousin Barrie Lockwood, himself an RAF veteran, survives and knows all these stories, and even has the pictures to prove it, pictures and stories that will one day belong to little Roo, since she's all that is left.


There are people all over the world who already know her and where she comes from and what her family has collectively managed to survive and do to get her to this point. She already has birthright citizenship of two of the greatest democracies on the planet, never mind the right of residence in any EU country.

And she has her very own farm to come home to soon, and live in while she grows and whenever she wants when she's grown up, and to inherit one day.

So she's already a lucky wee mite, isn't she.

Update, 9/2/2014 at 8pm. She's home! Wee Roo is in her pouch.