Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's been awhile

Sorry I’ve been neglecting my blogs. John is visiting his extended family in Indiana for the holiday and between doing the chores and everyday upkeep and chipping away at Have a Cow and my Hobby Farms assignments, blogging completely slipped my mind.

BUT, here is my big news: I got the go-ahead from Storey to submit a proposal for Feeling Sheepish! To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. I began working on the proposal yesterday and am having the time of my life.

Much as I adore goats, I honestly prefer researching sheep. It’s the history, you see. Goats were domesticated before sheep by perhaps one to two thousand years, but because humans utilized wool even before domestication (they picked shed undercoat out of bushes and such), sheep and humans go way, way back.

And, sheep are just plain interesting creatures. Studying their behavior is fascinating stuff. Take Mopple, who despite being raised with Edmund, still prefers to hang out days with the sheep.

Old Angel, who was fostered on a doe is quite the opposite; she reluctantly spends her nights in the sheep fold (we can’t let her overnight with the goats lest she ingest too much copper from their mineral tubs) but she joins the goats the moment she’s let out for the day. Last month she marched past five rams to hang out by Martok’s buck run when she was in heat. He had a visiting girlfriend and paid her no mind; as you see, she seemed quite depressed.

This proposal gives me an excuse to add items to my sheep ephemera collection too, though I already have a fat photo album of goodies if the book is a go. The picture at the top of this entry is one of my favorites, taken around the turn of the century in Burra, a former mining and pastoral town in South Australia (read about Burra here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burra,_South_Australia and here: www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/burra.htm). Don’t you wish you knew the story behind this image? I’ve tried to find out, but no luck so far.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too many irons in the fire

Sorry I haven’t posted lately. It seems as though I’m going a dozen different directions at once these days and apart from ongoing leading lessons for Mopple and all the young goats, none of it has to do with training animals.

I did something stupid this week. With the economy so slow, I decided I’d breed only two of my little ewes this year rather than be overrun with lambs. I noticed old Rebaa (Coates Farm’s Rosy Lolita) in heat and lounging by Ramsgate 2 (that’s our rams’ pasture; Ramsgate is the pen they had when we had just three rams). So, on a whim, I asked John to help me round up Rebaa, Shebaa (Rebaa’s daughter, Wolf Moon Findabar, one of my best ewes), and Maxx (Wolf Moon Fin Bheara [pictured above], our young paint Miniature/Classic Cheviot ram) and put them in a breeding pen.

I hadn’t planned to breed Rebaa again since I thought she would be ten in March (I didn’t breed her due to her age last year either), but she’s such a wonderful producer that I thought why not? We’ll baby her a bit and she’ll be just fine. I asked her to please have two nice ewe lambs and Maxx bred her right away.

Later that evening I dug out her papers to check her age. I thought perhaps she was going to be nine instead of ten. But she’ll be eleven on March 22! I’ve really lost track of passing time. She’s in great shape but we’ll take her directly from the breeding pen to the elder sheep paddock so she gets extra TLC from start to finish.

Rebaa always has twins or triplets and for her past three lambings she’s picked out one for me to raise (the white sheep is Baa Baa Louie, the wethered son I raised in 2008). She looks them over for about an hour, decides which one is mine, then starts gently nudging it away. If I don’t take the hint and remove that lamb (which I didn’t, the first time this happened), she gets tougher until baby is bouncing off the sides of the lambing jug. Why does she do it? I honestly think she knows I love bottle lambs and wants to share. Sheep are amazingly astute!