Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Fun's Just Starting

Tuesday evening Meghan and I went to our local airport to pick up two kids she'd bought from Twincreeks Farm in Texas. The kids arrived on time, but it took a bit for them to unload all the baggage, so we didn't make it home and get them fed and bedded down until around 11 p.m. These kids are both from CH lines and striking to look at--I promise I'll get around to taking photos soon.

So Wednesday morning I dragged myself out of bed about two hours later than normal(7 a.m.), started a fire, drank some tea and went out to feed everyone. The numbers are climbing and I believe we are up to around 52 different animals on the homestead. I begin with the smaller barns south of the house where the more mature ewes and Meghan's goats are housed. Then up the hill and back to the largest barn where the main sheep flock and lambs from last year are bedded down. Just as I was passing the windows of the main barn I heard a lamb call. We don't get lambs in mid-March and had seen no breeding activity, so I started to make a mental list of which ewes were due the end of the month thinking perhaps we had premature lambs?

Turns out one of Meg's youngest ewes decided to sneak in a heat cycle way before anyone else and had dropped a lovely tiny ewe lamb sometime in the wee hours of the morning. The ewe was being a very attentive mom. And the lamb although very small is exquisitely made, vigorous and healthy. So we put up a jug and got them settled in for the day, let the rest of the flock out into the paddocks to eat their hay and tried to regain our composure.

It helped that the day was sunny and warm, so we could spend part of it outside with the new kids dancing on the snow.

Will take photos of everyone soon. In another two weeks we've got a number of ewes due to lamb, so the party's just starting.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ode to Plastic Snow Shovels

The beginning of March we had very strong, gale force winds hit the Upper Peninsula from the east. Since Lake Superior has no ice this year these winds produced a lovely snow machine which proceeded to dump more than 36 inches of snow in blowing layers over our homestead. Paths that had been religiously shovelled all winter to our four barns had to be abandoned and snowshoed over to insure we kept the barn doors clear and enough paddock space open for our very pregnant ewes and does to get out and exercise.

It was somewhat disheartening to see areas that had so very little snow(which for us was like a summer vacation)suddenly disappear under glacial drifts, but we perservered and the sheep were out within 36 hours eating their hay in their paddocks despite the fences being completely covered over. The sun came out, the temperature rose and we started the slow meltdown of last week.

At first we just continued to boot walk over the pathways, since they were packed enough to handle our weight. But two days ago when the temperatures rose above 50 degrees and the nighttime temps failed to go below 32 I knew it was either shovel or have a tough spring of falling through knee-deep snow & slush. It took us two days to completely shovel out all the paths including the one to the stream, but we are now back to working order and eagerly awaiting the first lambs/kids the end of this month.

I would have taken some photos of all this but I was a bit too busy just living it. And the folks in upstate NY totally negated what little snow we had with their ten feet or more.