Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Little Lamb Who Made Thee?

I am joyfully anticipating lambing and the upcoming spring.  Green grass sprouting in the pastures, happy fat lambs racing to and fro.  Life beginning anew, bright sunshine and spring flowers.  The gentle warm kiss of sunshine as it lights upon on your face, the smell of leaves unfurling in the trees, the smell of grass being mowed, the snot, sneezing and headaches of hayfever.  Okay, forget that last part.  I digress...

Where was I?  Oh yes...the joy of springtime and new lambs.  One can forget just about any measure of discomfort with an lamb gazing in your eyes.  The trust bestowed as they lean into your caress.  

That sweet innocence, vulnerable, yet surprisingly resilient and strong. 

Reminds me of a favorite poem that I often repeat to myself while watching them scamper about the pasture.  This poem is what inspired the name of our farm

The Lamb, by William Blake.  

Little Lamb who made thee 
Dost thou know who made thee 
Gave thee life & bid thee feed. 
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice! 
Little Lamb who made thee 
Dost thou know who made thee 
Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb: 
He is meek & he is mild, 
He became a little child: 
I a child & thou a lamb, 
We are called by his name. 
Little Lamb God bless thee. 
Little Lamb God bless thee.
~William Blake 

~Bless Ewe~

Sunday, February 2, 2014

King of the Trough

Gabriel was named after an arch angel. Other than one hen he dispatched to the pearly gates (she deserved it, attacking and annoyed him endlessly) he has been a Godsend to our farm.  Before he arrived we lost sheep and lambs to the local cougar regularly.  Since he has been on the farm we have not lost a single sheep or lamb.   

One of my favorite things is to sit and watch the interactions between him and the sheep.  He has favorites among the flock.  A few lambs are his buddies.  Some of the ewes remain leary of him and that will never change, as they were not raised with a guardian dog.  He is quite affectionate with many of the lambs that grew up with him.  He will groom them, lick them, lay with them and most of all he protects them.

When Gabriel first arrived at the farm he was hesitant to defend his food from the chickens, or his sleeping spots from the sheep.  That has changed.

Gabriel has a couple primo spots he has made his own.  One of them is in the middle of the round bale feeder.  He loves the hay and makes his bed in the middle under the tarp covering the feeder.  He is snug and warm.  Down side, when he is sleeping in the feeder, he does not allow many sheep to eat.  His favorites, yes.  The ewes he does not care for?  Nope...which has resulted in a few getting their noses nipped.

I feed the bred ewes and lambs alfalfa every afternoon.  As long as I am in the pasture, Gabriel hangs with me or Stewie.  The minute I am occupied with something else, like working dogs.  Gabriel will climb into one of the feed troughs, make his bed and then the game begins.

Gabriel "Listen ladies, this is mine now. Get lost!"

"Stewie can stay, the rest of you bugger off!"

Stewie settles in to share the alfalfa with Gabriel.  Always one to take advantage of favoritism, Stewie knows the drill.  

Stewie says "Nom nom nom."

All hail Gabriel, King of the Trough

Challengers appear.

The girls think they can move the unshakable rock.  It is a fruitless endeavor.  (Trust me the only way to budge Gabriel from his bed of alfalfa is to tip the trough over - don't ask how I know this). 

Brave Beulah, Stewie's mother, risks her nose and ears diving into the yum.  The girls stay back, timing Gabriel's response.

Alas, Gabriel knows better than to do anything with me standing there.  Wise dog.  His game is thwarted. 

Gabriel says "You suck, please go away."

"I love you, but you understand the minute you leave - I will bark, snap and growl, and they will scatter like the sheep they are." 

That's okay you big white goober.  You are worth your weight in gold. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stewie Crack

He saw the bag the moment I got out of the car. As I walked to the gate you would think a bomb went off in his butt - propelling him forward at rocket speed - screaming M'aaaaaaaaaaaaa-kettlecorn-aaaaaaaaa! The whole way.

Stewie Crack. 

He nibbles, gnaws, licks, desperate to get his fix.! 

Utterly beside himself, he is shaking in anticipation. Finally he has his fix. 

Sublime caramel kettle corn crunching and melting, soothing the desperate symptoms. Sugar coursing through his veins. 

Sadly, Gabriel has also succumbed to the heady lure that is Caramel Kettle Corn. 

No hope for him either...

Gabriel is so desperate for a fix he snatches the pieces that fall off the ground. 

Sated. They both move onto other interests. 

Stewie to his ever faithful standby, Alfalfa and his BFF Matilda. 

Gabriel to cleaning off lamb butts. 

Someone's gotta do it. 

Charmin's got nuttin' on Gabriel for leaving a clean behind. 

Relaxing end to another good day. 

Bless Ewe :) 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Recap, Gangsta-Lamb & Alyssa at the Farm

I have obviously taken a huge blogging break.  So very much has transpired this year and it was simpler to post to Facebook than blogger.  My New Year's resolution is to get back to blogging and lay off FB.  Something that many of my FB friends will appreciate.  My mobile upload album has over 3500 pictures, to give you an idea of how much I post.  It is a wee bit ridiculous, I suppose.

Our year in a snapshot (what I can actually remember).

Jan - preparing for lambing.  Bliss, my new puppy came home to live.  Bliss's mother is a sister to my Bea (Bett x Riggs).  Her sire Zorro is related to my Brynn.  She completed our dog family. 

Feb - April was lambing.  Oodles of new lambs took over my life. 

March 21, 2013 Stewie was born.  My heart was hijacked by a little lamb who came home and lived in my house the first six weeks of his life, wearing a diaper and sleeping in a dog crate next to my bed.  Stewie was a bit of a miracle, saved by a jugular cath & lots of people who contributed medical skills & love to get him over the hump.  In doing so, we learned a tremendous amount, he evolved into a huge personality and has shared joy with me & many others daily since.

May-June - farm chores, mowing pastures, moving sheep and caring for the family pretty much occupied my days.  We lost one of my favorite ewe's to the damn cougar, Baby, the natural colored Rambouillet ewe, her lamb was six weeks old.  Bunny, what I named the lamb, came home to the house and stayed with Stewie for a while before we moved them together to the barn.  Later in June yet another ewe was killed by a cougar. 

July - Gabriel our Livestock Guardian Dog came to live on the farm.  What was left of my heart was thus taken over.  But the heart has a way of growing & expanding to accommodate.  Since Gabriel has arrived we have not lost a single sheep. 

August - I cannot remember, other than hours upon hours on the tractor, going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Sept - Ranger and Bonnie went to live with John's ex wife, Melody and his kids Evan & Grace.  It was the best decision we could make for them.  Bonnie and Beth continued to try and kill each other.  Ranger was often left home alone, or with Bonnie while we spent our days at the farm.  This way we can see them frequently.  Bonnie has claimed Melody, as her very own person.  Ranger has the kids & Melody.  They sleep on their beds, spend their days on the couch and being part of the family.  It was very hard to give them up, but everyone's lives are richer for it. 

Sept - Oct - Joanna and her daughter Isabella came to live with us while she saved money for her own place.  They were a welcome addition to our family and we have adopted them into our crazy family - they have been assimilated.   Rams went in with the ewes, sheep needed to be moved from pasture to pasture. 

Nov - Dec -  My days were filled with making my sheep sculptures, filling orders, meeting inventory orders for the local store & getting ready for the holidays.

Now that the Holidays are essentially over, I will relish the few weeks of relaxation before shearing Feb 8th lambing begins Feb 15th,  and then building up inventory for Shepherds Extravaganza in April.  Whew, it will begin again...
Moving to present day:  I took my grand daughter along with me to the farm today.  My daughter had to take my son to the doctor - so Gramma had baby duty.  It is such a chore, you know... *insert wink wink wink here*  

She was styling in her boots and coat.   Gramma needs to buy her a pair of muck boots & barn coat, but this will suffice for now.  She was geared up and ready to help Gramma with chores. 

First up, Alyssa said hello to Stewie.  Stewie has not seen Alyssa for a few months.  She was his favorite playmate when he lived in our house.  She was happy to see him.  Deep in my heart I believe Stewie was happy to see her too....

We began with sniffs.  And some affectionate head rubbing.  

Alyssa would move away, and he would follow, playfully rubbing his head against her. 

Then his intentions became apparent:  Stewie had an adgenda that was not compatible with Alyssa remaining upright. 

The first playful 'head-butt" quickly transitioned into a outright rumble resulting in Alyssa going airborn, Gramma successfully caught her before she hit the dirt.  As he was backing up, to gain momentum for another head-butt aimed for her backside, Gramma met Stewie's chin with her boot.  Delivering a swift upper kick - rattling his noggin'. 

Was his choice for violence simply a manifestation jealousy?  Perhaps a good lamb gone bad, led astray by his life choices?  We may never know.  Stewie is, as Stewie does.

Gramma wisely put Alyssa into the farm wagon.  Which pleased Stewie & Gramma.  She was on his level where he could inspect everything and anything she did, yet she was safe from Gangsta-Lamb. 

(Gramma is not sure why she is writing in third person.) 

Next, with Alyssa in the wagon we separated all the sheep and loaded up with alfalfa for the troughs.  

Alyssa supervised delivery and placement, keeping me on task with her whip.  She shows spectacular accuracy with it.  Just sayin'....

These much kinder lambs, were curious and sweet to Alyssa.  They did not feel the need to teach her how to fly.  Gangsta-Lamb was other wise occupied while Alyssa was mobile, lest she meet the business end of his brow yet again.  He warily watched where my boots were and oddly enough it only took me saying "Dont you even think about it!" to him a couple times and he would turn away...with a depressed sulky expression. 

Alyssa enjoyed sneaking over to pat Ruth, the immobile elderly romney ewe on the butt. - then she would run back giggling.   

A game we coined Pat-Ruth & Run.  

Wrapping up the day, we fed Gabriel.  Because the neighbors were shooting off their guns (terrifies him), Gabriel left some of his food which Alyssa and Brynn generously shared with the chickens.  Alyssa mastered imitating the 'Daddy Kikken" which I listened to half the way home.  My ears are still ringing.  

Brynn stayed close to Alyssa, always on the look out for the advancement of Gangsta-Lamb.  

They both crashed on the way home, after Brynn ate a couple of her chicken nuggets. 

This was a wonderful way to wrap up the last day of 2013.  Dogs, sheep, my darling grand daughter & friends.  Who could ask for more?  

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I'm Baa'aaa'ck!

It has been so long since I last wrote a post I almost forgot how to log in.

Has it really been since September?  So much has happened since then.  The rams were put in with the ewes for breeding, we are expecting the spring crop of lambs to start popping out mid March.  We are helping the McBrides, across the street with their sheep and their first lamb arrived today. 

A very large & healthy ewe lamb.  I was relieved it was a ewe lamb, because I doubt very much that Brenda will ever part with this lamb.

We have all survived the past 6 months intact.  Although, just barely. 

My adult daughter moved home with her 2 y/o daughter Alyssa so she could attend college without the worry and stress of working full time.  Then my youngest son moved back home and he is also enrolled in college full time.  My middle son with schizophrenia went missing for a while, was homeless on the streets, then popped up in a local hospital close to death in the ICU.  After a scary couple of weeks we have him in an appropriate facility and things are looking up. 

Needless to say, after 8 years with out a cigarette...I started smoking again.  Does that give you an indication of how stressful the last few months have been?  To be outside in freezing temperatures just to have a nicotine fix is NOT pleasant, combined with what I am doing to my health?  NOT GOOD. 

Obviously, I am trying to quit...right after my next cigarette. Or heart attack, which ever comes first. 

I sat down and thought about the things in my life that have helped me with stress, one has been this blog.  I am not sure why I stopped blogging.  Perhaps it was resentment?  Pressuring myself, feeling obligated to come up with the next great post and the hours I spent on photography was becoming tedious.

That said, I need something to help me keep track of things.  Accomplishments, goals, hopes & dreams.  Even the occasional screw up. Let's face it, I am old, hence blood flow is lacking to my brain.  My memory is shot to hell thanks to menopause (and now smoking - hack hack ACK).  I need this blog to keep track of my life, because one day I am going to forget everything. 

Who am I? 

Where was I?

MOVING ON.....I may need to change the name of this blog, again.

We have a new addition.

This puppy I can blame entirely on Dianne Deal.  She twisted my arm.

Ironically the day before I had been talking to my therapist about following my bliss.  Keeping my eye on the goal and focused on what will make me happy, what gives me peace and what is my "Bliss".  That afternoon I posted this sign on Facebook - it spoke to me.

I have been following my bliss, with out really thinking about it.  It is what led me to where I am today, at the farm, with the sheep, my dogs and friends that surround me.  My life has fundamentally changed for the better - by following my bliss.   

The next morning, Dianne emailed me a picture of an adorable little puppy she named Bliss.  She had not seen my post on Facebook or had any idea what I had been working on in therapy.

That my friends, is what I like to call a divine co-inky-dink and it spoke to me - directly to my heart, beyond all rational thought, I no longer could be held responsible for my actions.

At least that is what I tell my husband.  I do not think he subscribes to my conspicuous thought process - skeptical is his middle name.  Alas, he was won over....I think.  He may just be laying in wait to claim his due at a later date.  I tell him that there is a special place in heaven for men like him.  With golden fishing poles, silver rivers full of fish, and no wives with dogs, and sheep - that keep multiplying.  Then I hand him a beer and turn on the football game.  He is happy.

I digress...   

Meet Bliss a 12 week old border collie puppy.  The easiest puppy ever.  I have never had a puppy that will go noodle limp when I pick her up.  She just melts into you, snuggles right up to your neck and sighs.  With all that she is still a very confident little sprite.  This one will be FUN!  

Bliss is related to Bea.  Her mother, Penny (Bett x Riggs) is Bea's full sister from a previous litter. 

Her father is Dianne Deal's Zorro (Byrnes Ted x Lynn).  He is related to Brynn.

Bliss will be a smooth coat, which I love.  Now that I have dogs that work outside every day & sleep in the house at night - I will never go back to a long/traditional coat ever again. 

Her temperment speaks to my heart.  She reminds me of Brynn as a puppy.

Speaking of Brynn - we are slowly but surely making progress.  You wouldn't know it by our trial scores - but I am figuring lots of stuff out, you know the whole two steps forward and three back routine.   Hopefully, one day before I die I can actually walk off the field feeling pretty damn good. 

Bea went back to Dianne's for training in December.  I will be seeing her next weekend when we go to Idaho for El Presidente SDT. 

The sheep are due to start lambing mid march.  We decided that lambing in the snow was NOT FUN and did not want to repeat last year's insanity.  We have two groups of ewes that were bred.  I have narrowed down my breeding objectives and have goals in mind for the flock.  I am concentrating on my registered romney's and border leicesters.  Been doing pretty good selling bred ewes already this fall.  All the customers are very happy with them and the prices have been better than expected.  Word of mouth seems to be the way to go.  I had to pull my ad off of Craigslist because I was going to have to start selling the ewes I wanted to keep.  

Doris is our very intelligent, yet near sighted ewe on our farm.  Glasses seem to help.  We need to work on the fit though. 

I love sheep.  Is that evident yet?

They may or may not be fond of me.  The other day I was walking to the back of the property, I turned around and all of this was behind me.

It could either make me feel loved or they just see me as the source to primo food.  I prefer to think it is the latter.  Love through the tummy.  It is the way I roll.

Doris rolls with about anything I do to her.  She is a slave to the scritches.

Sheep noses are so velvety soft and sweet. 

Speaking of sheep....

Back in November I started making these sheep statues from epoxy resin/clay, reclaimed wood and fleece from our sheep and the Jonasson Border Leicester farm.  All the ones you see in the picture below have been sold.  I am working on more and will be bringing many with me to Idaho for the trial and the rest will be posted on my Etsy shop. 

You can find them on Etsy at Bless Ewe Sheep Company

Enough yammering for tonight.

See ya :)