Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Entitled Chickens

The chickens act so entitled.

They strut around the horse and sheep pastures, among the human, sheep and horse feet, and squawk if another creature steps in their space, on their feet.

I try to explain to them that they are 7-pound fowl, that people, sheep, horses, dogs, could really hurt them.

They glare and say that we should walk around them.

And, so they go about milling around Jet, the Haflinger, while she is eating her grain. When a wind gust frightens her, she bolts outside and feathers fly, chickens fly. Birds squawk.

I close my eyes. No good can come of this.

When I open my eyes, I see feathers, feathers, feathers, but no dead chickens.

And, then I see her.

The Naked Butt Chicken.

She ruffles her remaining feathers and tells me to walk around her.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Unfortunate Reward for a Job Well Done

Pity the poor Border collie that is good at her job.

Earlier this week, our walks took us around a farm pond. Upon seeing geese, Mickey, the 12-year-old Border collie, did what she'd been trained to do. She chased the geese into the pond, ran to the other side and harassed them.

On our morning walk today, I unleashed the Border collies after crossing the road. Mickey ran across the hay field and up the pond bank. But when she arrived at the pond, she found no geese.

Apparently they had taken her suggestion and moved on, leaving her with nothing to do.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Teenager Stuck in the Maternity Ward

The red yearling ewe is not happy with me.

A few days ago, she ran three-legged to the barn. Somehow she sustained an injury to her hind leg.

To allow her to rest and to let it heal, I put her into the pasture with the pregnant ewes. Due any day, they aren't moving fast or much.

A fence separates the yearling red ewe, left,  from where she wants to be.

Young Red is not happy.

As any teenager, she'd rather be out with the young, carefree ewes who are not pregnant, who wander searching for greener pastures, who run and jump and head butt.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Waiting for a Friend

Most Katahdin lambs are born with instant playmates. For the first few days of their lives, twin or triplet lambs play chase games with each other.When tired, they curl up and nap with each other. As they grow older and their world expands, they join the other lambs for games.

Sometimes, though, a lamb is born as a single, with no playmate. Singles usually cling to their mothers for several days before searching for other lambs that will play.

We're at the beginning of lambing season.

As always, one ewe gave birth several days before the others. She had a single lamb.

(Here's our single at two days old. My mother says she looks like an Edith)

So, she's hanging out with her mom, practicing her leaps, and waiting for some other lamb to admire her moves.

As a single lamb, she was born bigger than most twins and, as the only one nursing, is growing fast. I'm hoping playmates arrive soon... and that's the others still see her as a lamb, and not a BIG bossy sister.

I took a short video of her today, at age 2 days. No, those are not lamb sounds that you hear.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rambles of Spring

Even though the ground won't dry for weeks, I ask the husband to get out the manure spreader. It is 40 degrees and sunny, and I can  stand the winter mess no longer.

Listening to Fannigan's Isle, The Orange and the Green, I begin the task of cleaning out the barn.

Trick the Cat is happy to have someone in the barn, and he's quite intent on putting on a show.

He's taught the twin bottle lambs to give him belly rubs. When they get too rough, he teaches them about claws on noses.

There is enough manure in the horse paddock, sheep stalls and chicken house to fill the manure spreader again and again. But I focus on areas where it matters most -- in front of doors.

My goal for the day is to have the stalls ready for lambing season. That means I must clean out the horse stall that we've used for hay storage all winter. When doing so, I discover what my rogue hen has been doing.

The manure spreader is filled, and the sun is still shining. So I turn to another cleaning task.

I grab the hairy beasts, scissors and curry combs.

The birds will be happy.

And so am I.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On Lions and Lambs

When I planned for mid-March lambing, I was thinking hints of spring, not spring snowstorms.

But that is what I'm getting. So on the first day of March, the husband and I enjoyed the 40 degrees and sun as we moved more hay into the sheep barn. Then, I inventoried my lambing supplies, and we vaccinated the sheep.

And, as I dug my fingers into their hair and did a hands-on inspection, I discovered that the sheep have become masters of baaing pitifully and sucking in their guts. Underneath all of that hair, they're surviving the unusually cold winter just fine.

This morning, I awoke to snow-covered ground and forecasts of more snow. As I pondered whether March came in like a lion or a lamb, I realized that it doesn't matter. In a few weeks lambs will arrive, no matter the weather.