About a week ago, the fox came out on a chilly night and prayed to the moon to give him light. He took 3 of our hens to his nice warm den, there were the little ones, 8,9, 10…
Very sadly, I found 2(deceased) of the three where he’d been arrested by Nessie, our Border Collie, in attempts to cut him off.
Yes, it was the night of the “Sap Moon”, the “Worm Moon”, the beautiful full moon of March 23, 2016, and I had forgotten to close the door on the coop. Shameful.
Coincidentally, the week before, I’d set up the incubator with a full compliment of eggs to hatch out with my after-school helper, Maggie. We culled recently, after candling the 42 we’d set, and we have 22 fertile eggs that will likely hatch out this coming Wednesday or Thursday. Maggie and I have agreed that she’ll come over after school on the day they hatch regardless of her activity schedule, because…priorities!
So, sadly, as the fox is back to his old spring-routine of dining out, we’ll be having to put the hens & ducks, turkey & peacock, into lockdown. It’s rough on poor Mario, the white peacock, because the hens pick on him while he’s displaying in captivity. They like to go behind his back and peck at his backside and he’s working so hard on displaying that he doesn’t shake them off. And they have pecked him sore. He’s big enough to sit on them, but, he’s kind. He doesn’t. I like that he is kind. I just wish that they weren’t pecking on him. In the future, when the fox-scare is over, he’ll resume free-ranging with the gals and they’ll leave him alone.
I had so much anger that day that the fox nabbed my hens. So much. I lost my beautiful little Silky and she was the one that I could count on to set on the eggs in the clutches in the henhouse. She was a good mama last year to the duckling and chicks she’d hatched out. And I lost my poor Dominique that was so friendly she’d let you pick her up. I thought he’d gotten Lady Lakenvelder, but he hadn’t. He’d gotten one of my Araucanas. Darn him.
Another goodbye was to Petal & Doris, two little Shetland ewe lambs that were born to Pansy & Darcy last May. It was not nearly as tragic as the hens’ end.
I have only put off sending Petal to her new home about 8 times. Seriously, her new owners, at Wayfaring Farm in Alford, MA, had been hoping to have her since she was a tiny one. But, I can be honest here, I had been having some serious helicopter-sheep-mom issues. I made several and many excuses between last May and now to not send Petal off. And then Petal & Laird, whom Holly, the farmer, had thought she’d like too, and then when Laird’s spots were shorn(he’s now an all white wether with black markings on face & legs, no longer spotty), it was just Petal again. I thought, “Oh, Petal can’t go off alone! She’ll be so distressed. She’ll make so much fuss and then no one wants a distressed sheep!”
I told Holly as such, that we ought to wait until Petal had been bred and had lambs, NEXT year, and then she could go off with her lambs and live with them. And then it hit me while I was driving to pick up my rug yarn order…I was NEVER going to part with Petal. My ulterior motive was becoming apparent to me. I would make excuses til the end of time because I was gun-shy from some of the other sheep sales I’d made. As well as I am a hoarder.
So I realized then and there that Petal should indeed be able to go off to a new home and have a good life, a new life, with a wonderful farm and I couldn’t be happier to see her placed there. And I thought, for my own peace of mind, I’ll send Doris with her. I had never intended on sending off little Doris. She is sister to David, daughter of Darcy. (No worries, this is not the Table of Nations.) She & David are named for my parents. But there I was, again, making excuses for keeping her. I realized, though, that she was the perfect companion for Petal and that Wayfaring Farm would be getting two very healthy, very beautiful ewe lambs for continuing Shetland breeding on their own.
Holly came, bearing pork from her farm and coffee from her local favorite coffee spot, and we had a great catch up. Then we loaded the ewes into the back of her car and I threw in a frozen turkey, too, and hugged goodbye. I’m trying not to be too burdensome with requests, but I did text her the next morning to ask how the girls’ sleepover went. And then I texted her later on to ask her how they were doing after 24 hours away from home. I refrained from texting her every six hours, like I was thinking I should, and she sent me reassuring emails that the girls are assimilating wonderfully, they’re blending right in with her sheep & goats and have new friends already.
It is so hard being a parent.
But sometimes its very exciting to be a parent! I watched my son weigh in his limit on his second day in a Bassmaster Southern Open in Jasper, AL yesterday afternoon, on my phone, while I was feeding sheep and goats and alpacas and horses their early supper and I couldn’t believe it, between the baahing, I could see that that kid was in league to grab first place! I squealed and sent him a congratulatory(hopeful) text. His career as an outdoor-journalist has him covering professional bass fishing tournaments all over creation, so in order to actually compete himself, he has to take vacation days and particpate in select competitions that are not connected to his employment, avoiding conflict. His whole life has been consumed by his passion of fishing, so this was a great, great accomplishment. I’d had a wedding tasting to attend/serve in nearby Arlington and couldn’t be in touch while there, but as soon as I left last evening, I phoned him to find out how the dust settled and, had he indeed won? And he had. It was great to chat on his way home from Alabama(driving to Kentucky) and hear the happiness and excitement in his voice. I did ask him if he might want to buy his mom some tractor implements with his winnings…
O.k.. The ewes, that are very, very due, are having me on. They were, none of them, technically due until April 8th and thereafter. A couple of weeks ago, however, the alert was sounded because Nessa’s bag was quite full and she had mucous-y discharge and for a first time mom, I thought that labor was imminent. Our first-time moms here, in the past, have been not very noticeably bagged up until they’ve delivered, making me think that Nessa was ready.
It is coming up on the actual due dates and All The Single Ladies-in-waiting have been separated and shuffled here and shuffled there to keep them within the LambCam view and also so that I could feed/tend to them accordingly. If they were to lamb, then I wouldn’t worry about them being out in the cold or the yucky paddock with so many other sheep around them, and also, the bustling of the entire group of ewes might be dangerous when feeding the Ladies-in-waiting, should they get butted into.
I watch them pretty often, here, on my online camera, and you can too if you don’t already. And this coming Saturday, the 9th of April, at 8pm, there will be a LambCam LIVE Chat session to answer questions, discuss comments, and share the latest. There might even be lambs in the stall with us!
This coming month we have Ellen Mason Design sponsoring our LIVE Chat. One lucky winner will get her Ann Carolyn Smock pattern, recently released, and another will receive her mitten pattern (on Ravelry) + yarn! To enter, just leave a note, question, comment, in the comments-section of this blog before 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, April 9th. We’ll draw & announce the winners at the end of the LambCam LIVE Chat.
And, heads’ up, there are many and sundry events coming up this year at the farm. In more detail, in another post, I’ll share about the upcoming Mothers’ Day Open Farm we’ll be hosting. You can also read about our Wardrobe In A Weekend Workshop with Sonya Philip & Ellen Mason(sold out) here, my teaching a From The Woods Natural Dye Workshop(sign up now) at nido in Lincoln, VT here, and our Vermont Colored Wool Retreat with French General(sold out) here. We have a yet-to-be-announced Needlefelting class with The Felted Gnome Knows coming up, too, so learn more about Susi Ryan here.
See you this coming Saturday! (P.S.: Tis my daughter Sarah Jane’s b.d. that day, I’ll be missing her very much and will probably lapse into a few baby stories.)