raddle, remorse, and meat pies
Atlas is out of the pen and covered with orange raddle. He looks crazy, but is enjoying the big pasture with the ladies. I tried fitting him with the leather harness but it was too large, the wrong size. So instead I put the thick, orange, ink all over his chest (if you only could have seen this moment...Atlas squirming while I held one horn in one hand and wiped sticky chalk on his chest with the other. He didn't care for this) and then let him back to the flock. He's not a giant beast, but he's got the goods and now he's dressed for the occasion. Breeding season is underway!
Do you realize this means Maude will be a Mother?!
Tough decisions are happening with the sheep. I originally thought I would remove Lisette and Pidge from the flock and keep them from lambing. Lisette however, has been packing on the pounds and bouncing back well. She is actually in better shape than some of the others, and removing her from her sisters and bretheren seems not only stressful for the old gal, but dangerous. I have seen what stress can do to a sheep, and since she is healing well and in better health, I decided to give her a go with Atlas.
Her lamb Pidge, however, is in poor shape. Not sick, but so small. She's small because of my inexperience and being too late with some medications and remedies early in her life. I have decided to have her take to slaughter. She's too small and too touchy for my gene pool, and keeping her around isn't good for the future of the flock. A tough decision to cull, but a necessary one. If the slaughter house says she's too small or poor for meat, then I will simply have to cull her outright. I'm not sure I can put a rifle to her. I might just call the vet. I haven't decided. I do know that her brother down at Common Sense Farm is the largest, most beautiful sheep of the season. Raised on grain with a 40+ person full-time staff he looks like the rams in the british breed catalogs. So it's not Lisette's genes I am worried about.
This is a crappy lesson. Some parts of this life just are.
If you're angry at me about all this, trust me, I am harder on myself.
But while the sheep are in a state of flux, they are generally better than they were during the rains in September. Now they are getting more grain, mineral, and everyone got dewormed. They are getting plenty of hay (1/2 more than usual, actually) and gulping their vitamin water by the gallons every day. All seem to be getting back from their misery of rain and heat. Even Sal is 100% healed from his foot business. Maude, despite her attitude, might be tied for the healthiest ewe in the flock next to the Blackface yearling (now two) from last year who is a brick shit house of sheep beauty.
I told myself I'd take it easy this afternoon. I didn't. When I feel stressed out I tend to dive into work, so today I did just that. After my parents left the farm from their weekend visit I opted to go get a load of hay in Hebron and work on a recipe instead of sitting down and reading and sleeping like I should have. But I was restless, so instead I let Jasper out to stretch his legs in the pasture, fed the pigs all the scraps from the Burger Den breakfast I had with my folks, saw to the birds and rabbits, cleaned the chick brooder (there are 9 Swedish Flower Hen chicks by the mud room woodstove now), did laundry, medicated a sheep, set loose a graffiti ram, and then before turning in for the night I am having some pot pie and a glass of wine. Both woodstoves are going strong and the farm is warm, the animals comfortable, the dogs sleeping, and I have a copy of The Legend of Sleep Hollow by my daybed with illustrations by Will Moses. I'll probably read for ten minutes and put on an episode of Buffy to fall asleep to, but the intentions are Martha Stewart pure.
If this post seems erractic, mish-mashed, and tired. It is. But the farm is crawling uphill, the dogs are happy, the coffee pot cleaned and loaded for 4:45 AM, the farmhouse warm, and the farmer managed to once again pay the mortgage and keep her dream on the defibrulator.
More coherence and Antlerstock tomorrow.
Thanks for the eyes and ears.