Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lambs and other signs of spring

This El Nino winter has been relatively snow free, and Mainers are suffering. There's no snowmobiling, no ice fishing, no skiing, except way up in the mountains, and indeed I even saw a garage sale sign yesterday, something we wouldn't normally see until May.

Our sheep don't particularly care. There's nothing they need at garage sales. They are instead busy putting the final touches to the babies inside them. This is a contemplative process. We have big sheep, and they get even bigger when carrying one or two lambs. They tend to lie down a lot when heavily pregnant, with odd-shaped bulges coming out their sides. They lie down, chew their cud, and build babies.

Eventually, as happened last Tuesday, needs must and the lambs come. We had our first two W-year lambs. They are christened Winston and Winifred. Funny to think we only have three letters to go and then must start back at "A", but then this herd was already at "N" when we got them.

(Nellie, of course, who must sadly soon go to the knackers or face one of the inevitable and horrendous deaths that geriatric sheep endure, is the only remnant of those days and she's not one of the originals, just one of the first year's lambs we had, along with the ill-fated "Nugget," who was battered to death by another ram, not on our farm, but on the one he was sold to. I know she has to go, along with Quetzal who is younger but has the particular problem that she won't allow herself to be bred, but I haven't yet been able to bring myself to do the deed. I expect I will, though. Geriatric sheep suffer too much, as do barren ewes that then get bred after too many years out of practice, and I know my duty as a shepherd.)

Last Tuesday looks to be the start of the lamb stream, then. More is to come, probably around four to five more. Tia managed to get her birthing done just before my evening economics class, so Aimee and Roo had to manage, which they did with aplomb. Next up will be Quinn, whose bulges are the largest. There are either three or four more pregant ewes after Quinn. It's hard to tell if Ritzpah, a lanky two-year old, is actually with lamb, but no doubt we'll eventually find out.

In other news, the late winter weather has been so fine that Roo can run around in the yard. She must of course do this in the mud or frost, while avoiding piles of gravel moraine left by the various plow trucks that traverse our roads in season. But running is running and great fun when you're a toddler. Daddy, for his part, has gotten fat this winter. Not that he wasn't before, but he certainly needs to practice his running and lose some pounds if he's to keep up with Roo.

So now, after the ordinary child business of bottles, diapers, naps, breakfast lunch and dinner is done, all of which takes up a surprisingly large amount of time, running in the yard is on the card. I say, "lets go check on the sheep," and our child obligingly tooters over to the cubby where her coat and wellie boots are. She has her own word for this, "-side," meaning "outside."

She has to be helped down the kitchen step, but then can manage on her own. There's a regular tour. We must first let the dogs out, then go to the barn and give the ram or chickens some extra feed. We have to go in the sheep's yard and play with the water in the tub, as well as chase the sheep themselves, especially the lambs. We must visit both the front and back seats of the Land Rover. Being pulled around by daddy or mummy in the green wagon is a must. There are the swings to play on, and of course we must throw the frisbee for the dogs.

An hour or so of this apple-cheeked outdoorsiness is of course very good for parents who want their kid to take a nice restful nap so they can get something done, or even take a nice restful nap themselves.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
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