Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the great fall weekend - part 2

After Saturday's adventures, all five of us just wanted to relax. We came back to the cabin worn out. Jazz and Annie immediately collapsed on their respected bed and couch spots, and us people pretty much did the same. When we were recouped we headed into town to a local tavern, The Perfect Wife, for dinner. We came home to a warm fireplace and watched Songcatcher (a must see movie for mountain music lovers.)

Sunday morning I slept in (till 7 AM!) and even had help with morning chores. After the animals were fed, watered, lead to pasture, and given fresh bedding we came inside to bake a quiche for breakfast. Using my garden's stored veggies (save for the broccoli, which we tried but didn't freeze well and tasted like pet dander) fresh farm eggs, and Vermont cheese we made big ol' egg pie and washed it down with lots of coffee. Now that's a meal.

We decided to go for a long walk, and took a three mile stroll along Sandgate's dirt roads. It's peak foliage season here, and I was happy the girls could visit me at this time and see how colorful it is up in the hollow. Walks like these remind me why I returned to the Northeast. There is no fall like a New England Fall. The colors get into your lungs, make you breath differently. The cold crispness of waking up and seeing your breathe, walking past pumpkins and piles of hay when you leave for work. Little things. I need those things. Jazz and Annie seem to glide over the crunchy leaves like corporeal ghosts.

Well, that was the end of our fun for a while. I needed to trim the sheep's hooves. This went badly.

Badly, but not horrible. Every time I have shepherd work to do I realize none of it will be as easy as the books and pictures show. I was only able to trim one sheep's feet because only one sheep would let me get within flipping distance with hoof shears. Soon as I got Marvin down (which was more of a pathetic wrestle than professional shepherd's flip) Sal and Maude scampered away and watched in muted horror from across the pasture. No bribery could get them near me after Marvin was upright again. So I'll need to figure out some stealth tactics for Sal, and a goddamn miracle to get my hands on Maude. But still, one wether has trimmed feet. A modest victory.

The rest of the weekend ended with a trip into Manchester to putz around town and then a pasta dinner with friends of Sara Mack's who happened to be hiking nearby for the holiday weekend. They came in showered, but mountain weary and we spent the night talking and drinking in good company. I think I may have even made a new dulcimer player out of kathleen, who was very taken by the weird instrument in her lap.

And that's the rest of a very good, but very long weekend. I think it set a lot of things in motion. And time will tell how they all play out. But stay tuned, and you'll hear the whole story. Promise.

photos, again, by sara stell


Blogger Diana said...

Dunno how it's done with sheep, but cattle are cornered by shooing them into a narrow "press" of fence (cattle panels, actually) so that they don't have room to turn around, then closing a gate behind their rump. Do you have a smaller section of pasture that could serve?

October 14, 2008 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Morgen said...

The picture of the pie crust being made is wonderful! Sounds like an fantastic weekend!

October 15, 2008 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger E said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 15, 2008 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger E said...

May I suggest you catch all the sheep then trim hooves one sheep at a time. Made a good place to catch them or can you use your barn? We tried to catch ours rodeo style the first time and it turns out sheep are really good at running and dodging (um....yes I should have known).

Also when I trim hooves I sit/squat on them. Your arms are stronger and you have more control if you don't have to reach so far. Trim after a rain and hooves are softer. If you are unsure of how much to trim make many small cuts. And keep iodine bottle in you pocket if you do cut into soft parts.

The key to trimming and shearing is to minimize movement. Sheep will settle down and struggle less if they know they can't move. Don't give them anything to brace their legs against: wall, fence, you. If they just flail in the air they get tired and quit quickly. Not much stamina in an up-ended sheep. I let go of their legs when they struggle hence sitting on them is good so they don't get away.

October 15, 2008 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

thanks, great advice e! By the way, I just went through the "come in, sit down" post to check you're story but you weren't on there? Could you tell me more about yourself and your flock?

October 15, 2008 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger E said...

I have a small flock of Icelandic sheep (currently 5 ewes and a ram). We live in se BC on an old homestead. Lovely neighborhood, great climate (just a few weeks in the summer when it gets too hot). 30 miles to nearest largish town of 10,000 peeps. We could use some more flat land only 5-6 acres for pasture and gardens. The rest is hill so we have to buy hay. Also have one German shepherd, 2 cats, 4 muscovy ducks, 2 chickens (will be replaced by small laying flock in the spring), one llama to watch over the sheep. Pigs sometimes thru the summer. We're looking at rabbits for a good source of home made dog food.

Like you, I don't eat meat but am a self-pronounced enabler. I see nothing wrong with happy animals that die quickly and give us manure and food.

October 15, 2008 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

are you anywhere near nelson? I used to go up there all the time when I lived in Idaho. Lovely place.

October 15, 2008 at 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

I found your site through Mother Earth News- you are living the life I dream about! I look forward to hearing more about your sheep, and if my husband and I succeed in moving Northward (we're in connecticut now) I would be glad to find neighbors like you.

October 16, 2008 at 12:45 PM  

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