“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every year I write about weaning the lambs.  I thought maybe I would not this year.

But I am.

There were 11 Shetland & Merino lambs born on the farm this spring and now it is time for certain babies to go to new homes, for certain babies to become wethers, for certain mamas to rebuild before the coming winter.  Being pregnant for 5 months and nursing for 3.5 – 4 months gives the ewes just 3 months to graze and revamp their stores before the shorter days change the nutrition of their forage and winter weather changes everyone’s diet.

Laurel & Manny, the Merinos, win the prize for saddest and most plaintive baa-ing.  Argyle wins the prize for most persistent and insistent baahing, followed by his mama Aisling.  Angus wins the prize for indifference.  The rest are somewhere in the middle of it all.

Sarah Jane & Char & I moved the ewes in with the rest of the flock of non-breeders out to longer and lusher pasture today, which was an excellent distraction during the daylight.

But now, tonight, no one is peacefully distracted anymore and they are playing a calling game.  One mama(Laurel, likely), baahs from one side of our property, our house being in the middle.  Another baby(Manny, likely) baahs from another side of our property, our house being in the middle.  Back and forth they are calling.  All through the night.

Ear plugs make my ears hurt, so I listen.  I don’t play music or the radio or consider white noise because there’s always the chance a coyote or pack of coyotes might join in.  I sleep with one ear open.  But, in this case, I don’t sleep.

After the crying, which might be two days or might be 4 or 5, a new routine will have been established for the flocks and there ought to be a return to quiet.  The goal will have been met and everyone, lambs & ewes, will continue to grow and thrive.

Once when my niece was ill in the hospital, I took care of my sister’s other children.  Her youngest was still nursing and I’ll never forget the stamina and plaintiveness of that little one.  All night long we rocked and walked and cuddled but she cried and sometimes was so angry.  It broke my heart.  She didn’t understand why I couldn’t nurse her(it’d been a few years since my own had weaned) and it was too pathetic.  We made it to the morning and the main purpose of allowing my sister & brother-in-law the ability to take the best care of their child that was hospitalized was achieved.   My little neice is now a very well adjusted young woman, who’d likely blanch if I told her this story, but I found myself out in the pasture tonight cuddling & consoling the lambs in the same manner as every year at this time.

Nessa & Ninian

Nessa & Ninian

Manny the Merino lamb gives Rupert, the Shetland lamb, some TLC.

Manny the Merino lamb gives Rupert, the Shetland lamb, some TLC.

Today there were distractions aplenty.  In particular, the moving of the pasture fence is fun to tell about:

When I first purchased the moveable fencing, I watched a short installation-video promotion on the company website of which I’d shopped.  It looked like any lightweight, blonde, pony-tailed, gingham-bloused country gal could do the job (yes, that was the model chosen for the video.) You pick up the posts which simply stick into the ground, lay the posts down all ’round the perimeter, and with it the moveable mesh fencing.  Then you reinstall the fence posts in their new places and boom!  15 minutes and you’re done!

It sort of goes that way here, except we are none of us lightweight blonde pony-tailed nor gingham bloused.  We are sturdily and strongly built and the video is an oversimplified selling tool.

Starting at the far end, we walk along and pick the fence posts up at the ground along with the 30-40 pounds of fence that collect as a drape along the way, only tripping within the netting a few times while hauling to the new location.  Additionally, we watch the flock that was prior corraled now head on out into the fields and the lawn and all surrounds with their new freedom.

We repeat with all of the sections of fencing that we own in order to make the largest possible pasture for the flock.  After moving from the old, tired location to a new, lush location, we install the posts in and around the pasture, under and over trees and bushes to allow for shade, adjusting at least twice because we’d started the posts into the ground and ran out of fence on the other end from miscalculations.

Meanwhile, all of the sheep had found new grazing to their satisfaction and needed to be regrouped and redirected.  Back at the barn I get a bucket with grain and a scoop.  As soon as Sarah Jane & Char are in their places to block off escapes, I shake the bucket and start running.

Our Sheep will come out of the woodwork to find and follow you, running you over if you are not fast enough.

Running fast, shaking the bucket.  Two sheep will become 5, will become 7, til you’ve got 18 sheep running behind.

Char was ready with the gate when I arrived.  Deep into the new pasture I led and then reward the trusting flock with a snack, though they were happy enough simply grazing.

Next year, I hope to have a Border Collie dog herding for me, but that story for another day.

Hark?! It’s quiet right now.  I’m going to give this sleep-thing another try.

“There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.” ~Author Unknown


15 responses to “Hushabye

  1. “There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.” ~Author Unknown I’m sitting here reading this at 5:37AM because of the truth of that statement.

    • Oh Mark, you hit that one right! Mine have a way of curling up around my head/neck/shoulders when they’re trying to give me STRONG hints to get up in the morning. I can only sleep with cat fluff in my nose for so long before I’m up! I hear you!
      By the by, you’re aces for reading my blog post! I told Gail I’d come and sing this fall. You should hold me to it. I find many excuses each day to not go anywhere at night!

  2. Oh my, I can SO relate to the frustrations of setting electronet. You knew I would respond to this … didn’t you? Oh … on one level, I HATE the stuff, and on another level, I very much like it. Yes, pulling post after post, out of the ground is easy … but dragging 30 posts with accompanying netting around the farm is nearly impossible unless you’re six feet tall with huge hands! I always get so frustrated and so MAD at the stuff. And then I trip over myself and the netting. And then I trip and fall into the wet grass. And, then, oh yes … there are those infuriating KNOTS and TWISTS and impossible puzzles of confusion that result in my calling Joanna! ‘Joanna! Will you help? I can’t figure this out?! Spinner/Weaver/Knitter that she is, she always manages to calm me down and straighten the mess out. If it weren’t for her I’d cut the dam stuff (actually have have, on several occasions done just that out of pure frustration). OK … I need to calm down. Someone needs to tell Premier that it would be only right for them to tell that other side of the electronet story! Thanks for the farm update, both Joanna and I have been wondering how things have been up there in the North Territory. As far as the ‘great move’ goes … we did find a nice place up in New Hampshire that we very much like … trying to find a sensible buyer (without going through a realtor) with the cash has been another story however. Looks like we’re probably stuck (and I DO MEAN stuck) here for another year. Argh. D

    • Electronet = farm puzzles. Like we need another puzzle in a day, right?!

      You describe it perfectly – I should embed your description into the post -you hit the nail on the head with the tripping over yourself! Oh my gosh, it requires fancy footwork and, as you said, 6′ or more with huge hands!!!

      I’m sorry to hear about the hassles of finding a sensible buyer – oh how extremely, extremely frustrating. Dang, darn, ding it. Gosh how things go…not always our way. Maybe you and Joanna should get a puppy to take your minds off of being stuck. I am NOT kidding. We fell into a puppy a week ago and what a wonderful thing it has been.

      Very soon I’m going to have a few acres of new fenced in pasture – I CANNOT WAIT! We’ve been working on this for months. I think we’re finally going to be finished in the coming week. Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy

      The babies are all cried out now. The mamas are too. If I could get my 15 roosters to stop crowing, I might be able to catch a night’s sleep.
      Be well,

  3. Oh , Tammy! Been following you on Instagram . You’re a writer too! I love this story. Thanks for sharing your life on the farm!

    • Liz -thank you for such a sweet note!!! You are welcome for the ‘sharing your life’ part – I am so warmed by how others enjoy what I enjoy! I, of course, think all of the animals are angels! Thank you for the kindness.

  4. Tammy, you never cease to amaze me. Your writing touches my soul, and makes me laugh at the same time. Love you, roomie!!! xoxo

    • Love you, too, roomie! Who knew these things would be my days and nights now?! I’m grateful to you, dear friend & sister, for your sweet comments. I love that you keep up with me this way, and I can’t wait to have you here to share the farm with you some day.

  5. Next year call me ahead of time and If you need another cuddler I will stay up all night!! Oh I would cry all night hearing them yearn for Momma and Momma’s yearn for the babies. Tugs at my heart! But they will be fine in a few days and you will probably be the only one who remembers.

    • OH! You’re so sweet to offer! By last night they were MUCH quieter, thank the Lord, and today/tonight I presume we’re all good. Each group has companionship,plenty of food and good, comfy bedding. Spending a little more time with the lambs(awww, poor me!) so as to console them (or myself?) You’re right about how they’ll be fine, and I think the crying is over. Thank you so much for your comments. It’s so nice to hear from you.

  6. Love to hear what each day is like on the farm. Wondering always where you get your energy. You amaze me.

    • Thank you, Joan! I am happy you enjoy hearing about farmdays – I love to write about them when I can. When I’m not writing them, the tales are rolling around in my head. I have so many! So kind to hear from you.

  7. What a wonderful post… from the plaintive cries of separated lambs to the OH GEEZ frustration of so-called “portable fencing” (I feel your pain). I love how you take the time to share these stories with us, with such compelling words and terrific photos. I hope all is calm there by now, and everyone is happily grazing or dozing in deep summer pastures. x

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