Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Catching the Coyotes' Calls

Over the weekend, the coyotes' nighttime yips and howls woke me numerous times.

Sometimes they sounded so close, I wondered if I should go out and check on the sheep. I didn't, but the sheep were fine.

The coyotes carried on so much that dogs across the countryside -- and even one or two of my own -- responded their barks that were no match for full-throttle coyote call.

On the third night, I decided that if the coyotes were going to keep me awake, I'd record them. I left my iPad underneath the open bedroom window.

On the third night, the only coyote sound was so distant, I was sure the cricket chirp would drown it out.

On the fourth night, the coyotes yipped and howled, but it was so short-lived that by the time I got out of bed and to the window, it had stopped.

I will keep trying.

But I know that my nights are numbered. Soon, we will be entering the time when we close the windows at night, and I no longer will fall asleep to crickets and the coyotes.

I wonder if they know that too and will wait me out.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Ram: Counting the Days

A fellow sheep farmer was commenting about his ram.

"He is so lazy. All is does is lie around and eat," he said. "I had to trim his hooves because he wasn't moving enough to wear them down."

I can't say that about our ram.

He likes to ram.

A pipe gate was his victim this week.

Apparently, he was quite offended that I'd put ram lambs nearby. So he began banging the gate, until I moved the lambs.

He is happy now.

And, he'll be happier in a few weeks when I let him out to pasture with some ewes.

And in a few months, I'll be happier when he is delivered to the butcher shop where he will become sausage.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Those Little Moments

Sometimes when I get home from work, I want to kick off my shoes, open a book and read.

But the meows, barks, neighs, clucks, and baas beckon me.

Then today, while sitting in the barn on the mounting block,
listening to the rain fall on the metal roof outside,
and to Simon and Garfunkel croon about Kodachrome inside,
and petting my twin orphan lambs,
who at 60-plus pounds are no longer little,
but still, very much mine,
and while watching the Good Mom and her two lambs eat grain,
and promising her that when this bag is gone,
she goes back to grass like everyone else,
I found the chores didn't seem so bad.

Standing, I opened the gate and let Good Mom and her lambs rejoin the flock,
and steered, pushed and cajoled the bottle lambs back to the pen.
Then I resumed carrying buckets of water, chicken food and hay,
and smiled as the radio played and the rain fell,
and the Border collies raced outside,
oblivious to those little moments.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

To Understand Hen-Pecked

When the 55-pound foster dog entered the barn, he encountered a hen who had flown over the gate and into the aisle.

The Border collie gave her a stare.

The Buckeye hen ruffled her feathers, marched toward him, and pecked, pecked, pecked his nose.

He cowered.

Peck, peck, peck.

He cowered more when he realized that she stood between him and his escape -- an open door leading out of the barn.

I intervened, allowing the dog to escape.

Shaking her feathers back into place, the hen resumed scratching and pecking.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Biceps by Buckets and Bales

When the grass stopped growing, I stopped lawnacizing. But, it turns out that I don't need to worry about losing muscle mass.

Our little corner of Ohio is in drought. That means, I've pulled the horses and sheep off of the remaining pastures and am feeding hay... which means I'm moving a lot of hay.

And, when horses and sheep eat hay, instead of grass, their water consumption goes up.

That means I'm carrying buckets of water.

Since it is September, the horses and sheep are growing winter coats.

Lily, the pony, is diligently growing hair to protect her precious asset.

The temperature is expected to exceed 90 degrees again today.

And that means the horses and sheep are going to need even more water.

I am trying to recruit others to my newest exercise program: Beth's Biceps by Buckets and Bales. Join me for workouts morning and evenings... and I'll even offer a special lunchtime session for the fitness diehards.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I now get why people freak out at our curtainless windows

When the Gentlemen of the Road Tour landed in Troy in late August, we packed up the Border collies and moved into a house near the music festival.

And I was reminded of the move from the country to the city that happened when I was 11. My mother told me and my siblings frequently that we now had neighbors.

Now, as an adult, when I made the temporary move from country to city, I was again reminded of the neighbors. Houses were just yards away. Instead of seeing fields and trees, chickens, a cat, I saw buildings, people walking by, cars zooming past.

My peripheral vision, tuned to catch any movement, went into overload. My auditory senses, tuned to hear a vehicle sound, a human voice, did too.

The Border collies, though well-traveled, had an adjustment to make. So many people, noises, movements, in a 48-hour period.

When they returned home, they sought at their favorite spot and took much needed naps.