Tuesday's weather was a real gift at this time of year. We reached the mid 70s with a stiff wind and bright sun. Knowing we probably won't see another like it this year made it all the more worthy of appreciation.
The bulk of the flock had a grand day outside. The breeding groups ( rams were put with their groups Monday) are in the barn but as we're only breeding 37 ewes this fall it leaves the largest proportion free to continue pasturing. We opened the farthest pasture to them one last time and they stayed down there a long time before trooping back up the hill to get a drink and have an afternoon siesta.
Some chose to sit in the shade of the barn and trees (not that there was much shade from the trees - it was more a philosophical statement on the part of the sheep) and others settled down in the full sun. 'Melted' might be a better word, at least for Velvet.
Bacardi, with Tahiti behind her.
Pickles, with Ida to the left.
Snowflake, almost alseep with her eyes open.
Clunk. No sense pretending...
Daisy must have been elected for guard duty. You hardly ever see everyone down and sleeping. Usually at least one ewe is up and half way alert.
Angel sat like this for a couple of minutes. I've seen some other 'overly large' sheep doing this occasionally, clearly thinking "I don't really want to hoist myself up but I'm so full it's not really comfortable lying here, either." What a dilemma.
But some kids just don't want to go down for a nap. These two are telling each other stories.
While the sheep were enjoying an leisurely afternoon Andy was putting a tire back on one of the tractors. The valve stem had leaked over the winter and the calcium chloride the tractor tires are loaded with corroded a big chunk of the metal rim. He found a metal shop that could weld in a metal patch - no small feat since the area had multiple convex and concave planes all bent into an arc - and he picked it up yesterday. The newly painted area is the repair.
Once the rim was mounted back in place he had to drill a new hole for the valve stem to come through, but it was such a nice day to work outside the task wasn't unpleasant.
A stiff wind kept the flag snapping.
Even the barn spiders were hard at work. We leave a nightlight on in the barn and there are always webs right around it. A 24 hour diner!
This is an especially pretty one.
Of course, if you're a senior citizen you don't have to work as hard and are allowed a few extra kitty kibbles now and then so it pays to stay handy by, like Natasha.
"I didn't get old by being dumb."
"Did somebody say something about kibble?"
Clem isn't that old. He's the guy that checks the breakroom for doughnuts four times before lunch.
"I heard that!"
It's in your employee files, too. Just so you know.
You can tell your dog has been skunked out behind the barn when she streaks by you, sneezing, then throws herself into the grass and rolls in a hopeless attempt at scraping the smell off. While you are staring at her thrashing form and thinking, "Oh, don't tell me......" the cloud of skunk smell will wash over you as it trails along behind said dog like a comet's expanding tail. The stink is so powerful you can taste it and it's absolutely unmistakeable. Curse colorfully and mmediately abandon any plans for the evening.
Clip the poor dog to her trolley run so you can get the materials you need. Dog will be very sad and try to lean on you since you are the Stopper Of All Bad Things. Try to hold dog at arm's length while telling her you're not mad, it's not her fault and no, she can't come in the house.
In the house collect the items you need - bucket, spray bottle, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, dish soap. Mix one quart peroxide with 1/4 cup baking soda and add two tablespoons soap. Mix by hand to dissolve the baking soda. Pour into spray bottle. Roll up sleeves, put on tall boots and go back outside into the wall of skunk stink hanging near the house. Reassure very sad dog and start spritzing the concoction onto her fur. Spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz...... gently pull dog closer as she tries to ooze away from the spray..... spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, spritz, stop and shake hand which is cramping. Have dear husband take over the spritzing while you rub the spray into the wet fur. Realize that was really stupid because the smell has just bonded at a molecular level with your skin and now your hand smells like skunk. Dishwashing gloves would have been good. Continue rubbing spray into fur. Pause and start smelling dog all over. Reassure confused and offended dog that being smelled up close is a good thing. Determine which spots are stinkiest. Resume spritzing. Be happy that the smell seems to be fading! Continue until most of the spray is gone and your teeth are nearly chattering because it's freaking spitting snow!
At this point the dog will realize that the worst is probably over since the spritzing has stopped and the smell isn't burning the lining of her nose any more. She will suddenly shake violently with relief, showering you and dear husband with soapy 'skunk lite' residue. Even 1% skunk smell is skunky.
Shivering with cold, bring dog straight into the bathroom and into the shower stall for a real bath. Hold dog by collar to keep her in the shower whilst simultaneously shedding your skunky clothes and trying to keep your balance on wet tiles. Join dog in the shower and remove collar to wash later as it, too, is skunky. Bathe and rinse dog thoroughly. Give dog thorough smell-over. Congratulate yourself on deskunking the dog. Dry dog. Give yourself a shower. Step out of shower into bathroom that still smells like skunk. Feel as though the skunk smell is attaching to you in the wet air. Wrap towel around yourself and carry skunky clothes and wet dog towels to the washing machine. Start washer. Find clean clothes. Return to bathroom which still smells of skunk despite running fan. Wash down shower stall in hopes of sending smell down the drain. Wash floor where skunky dog feet walked. Wash collar. Give up on lingering smell and spray Febreze on walls, floor and shower curtain. Leave fan on.
Pour a drink, figure out what one can make in five minutes for supper at 9 PM and give the clean happy dog a cookie.....with your skunky hand.
After the very frosty Sunday morning the temperature has crept up into the upper 70s yesterday and the still-repectable 60s today. Although there was some awful looking stuff on the radar we were missed by most of it and only had periods of light showers. We had left the gate to the bunk open in case the sheep - especially the shorn lambs - wanted to come in but they didn't so by mid-afternoon I shut it anyway.
It was a gray day. The kind of afternoon that's nice to spend being lazy, or so I've heard ;-)
The flock was very mellow - standing around staring into space or lying down resting. A few were grazing but more out of unconscious habit, like someone eating a bag of Doritos while watching TV.
"Doritos? What are them? Are them tasty? We would eat them!!"
The sky kept looking ominous.
Peanut wasn't worried and worked along the fenceline nibbling what she could reach. Some days it pays to have a small pointy head.
Right about 6 PM the sheep began to queue up at the gate.
Fuzz, in the middle - "C'mon, already! Don't just stand there, let us in!"
Peanut: "If you're not going to let us in, will you pet me?"
Pretty is three quarters Cotswold and the rain really freshened up her curls.
"I've managed to get rid of that dorky ear tag but I know you know who I am."
CocoPuff is swimming against the current. Typical of the little fuzzball.
Young Brick, across the road, is growing into a handsome lad with a lovely fleece. I don't plan to use him this year but I'm going to hang onto him. He ought to be a very good ram.
"Oh my gosh, what's a ram?"
You don't have to worry about that until next year.
We had a good heavy frost this morning. There have been a few light ones earlier this week but they mostly only involved the roof, the picnic table surfaces and the lawn clippings which lie in little windrows all around the yard. This morning's frost was much prettier!
Clover leaves. Every edge bears a fringe of ice crystals.
Wild carrot leaves.
Letting the flock out this time of year creates a 'reception line' that the girls work through, all being ahem, friendly, and wanting to say "Hi" to Andy. Breeding season is only two weeks away. Yikes!
Bug: "I wish they'd hurry up. I want to go out!"
Large Marge was especially demanding today.
She parked herself right in front of Andy and he had to reach past her to pet Kandy.
He finally shooed her out the door but she kept watching him, hoping for more attention.
Bug brought up the rear but made sure to say hello too so she planted herself until Andy petted her.
Today was shearing day for the Cotswold lambs. I try to have this done in early September but this year it just didn't get scheduled and to make matters more interesting when I phoned him my regular shearer told me he couldn't do it this fall. At all. Yikes! Good sheep shearers aren't found on every corner and you need someone who treats the animals gently and understands that the wool is pretty darn valuable and doesn't haggle it taking it off. Luckily (super luckily!) the man doing the sheep shearing demo at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival was willing and available. Curiously, this is the third 'Brian' who has sheared for us. Besides a Ralph and an Irving there have been two other Brians - what are the odds?
Last night we shut the boys into their creep area and the girls into theirs. We had rain coming and you need the sheep dry. Not only does the shearer get soaked in two seconds handling wet sheep, but worse the fleece will start to mildew in storage no matter what you stash it in.
"Hey, somebody, we got accidentally shut in here....... can you get the gate?"
Peanut was sooo happy that I was hanging out with everyone. She stuck like Velcro to my leg - the equivalent of a sheep hug.
A bit of deja vu......
And another one. This lamb....
....has faded to a very pale gray over her hips.
This is Ophelia. She's one of my favorites this year.
Besides being large and friendly she has great Cotswold coloring on her face and really nice curls.
Here's her baby picture......with that crazy spot.
Her spot has faded too although not as much as the lamb with fancy pants.
Random pictures while we were waiting. Brian got lost finding us this morning.
"Hey, I think somebody's coming!"
Once we got under way things went along smoothly. He's a very good shearer and fast which didn't leave a lot of time for pictures. We did the boys after all the girls and they really got short shrift in the photo department - not a one. Imagine all this again but with manly luggage being carried around ;-)
The lamb with the black 'pants'.
"What the heck just happened?"
"It IS nice to be cooler.... I don't mind that part."
"I don't know. I'm a little worried what the others will say."
But nobody laughed.
Peanut says, "I think I look pretty good! And now I can get to that itchy spot!"