Monday, March 25, 2013

Welcome Spring!

Yeah, just effing kill me now.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Plan A

Ovines were always Plan A.

But first we needed the fences; those dangly things hanging from rotting landscape timbers that the former owner's barn-sour horses thought were fences certainly wouldn't do.

And the pastures were more shrubbery than graze. They needed browsie beasts to tart them up and get them ready.

So before Brandywine farm got its sheep, it got chickens, guineas, ducks, turkeys, big goats, little goats, barn cats, more dogs than we started with, fruit trees, veggies, berries, asparagus.

Finally, this February, I see an ad for four bred Katahdin yearling ewes, for less than the price of butcher sheep at the auction.

After a few phone calls, conclude that Hell Yes, it is time to start the flock.

The first trick was getting them home. We don't own a pickup truck. Slimer, our vehicular houseguest, does not count, just because I am all snobby about things like functioning master cylinders.

My trailer has a bad bearing, and it was too bloody cold and too bloody troublesome to replace it before heading down to Washington County in the sleet and slush. Plus, poor little sheepies would be cold and scared and ...

So back of the Honda it was:

I fashioned a barrier out of cattle panel and baling twine, and Miss Rosie rode shotgun on the off chance that a passenger might try to breach the cockpit door.

Word of advice.

When transporting unhousebroken ruminants inside a passenger vehicle, make sure that you secure the tarp well.

Not that my twelve-year-old car, which has not had its back seat installed for over three years, was, you know, pristine, but on the few days that it has warmed up since early February -- well, it will never be the same.

They settled in nicely, and the waiting began.

Their owner -- who was only selling them because impending surgery made it impractical for him to deal with his later lambing cohort this year -- thought they would start dropping lambs within the month.

Starting at the end of February, I tied myself to the farm.

I couldn't go down to work with the Pilot Mountain Dogs for my NESR colleagues.

I couldn't help transport young NESR Scout, my new foster dog, so a nice lady and man brought him all the way here from Virginia.

Cute, huh?

May as well have had a GPS anklet and a parole officer.

The beginning of the end arrived this morning, courtesy of Sue the Sheep:

 The speckled little monster is a ram lamb, destined for the freezer in the fall.*

The cafe au lait model is a little ewe who will contribute to the increase of our flocks. By request of FOB Kelly Bahmer-Brouse, we'll be calling her Shaun.

Sue gave no special sign that she was finally ready to blow. She'd been looking like a black tick on toothpicks for over a week. I checked on her at 0100, and all was quiet. By 0600 both big, healthy lambs were born, dry, up and suckling.

My kind of lambing, and a big reason I held out for Katahdin sheep from a healthy, low-maintenance commercial flock.

Alice looks ready to blow any minute; maybe tonight.

* Don't even start with me, okay?