Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Soaked and Sorted!

It's a wet and soggy morning here at Cold Antler, and I am glad. I'm sitting here at my computer in the living room, with a black Hogwarts tee shirt from the 1900's stuck to my back. My sopping hair held out of my eyes with a bandana. I was out sorting sheep with Gibson in a steady rain. Last night was the first night the newly-introduced lambs were with the rest of the flock instead of living separate in two pens. The rain meant most of the flock would be in their pole barn and I was worried in the mean world of sheep politics they wouldn't be allowed in with the rest of the flock. So I jumped out of a very comfy bed with dog wearing underwear beside me (Friday is in heat, she wears doggy diapers at night to protect the sheets) and ran up the hill in the rain. As expected the three new lambs were standing in the rain outside the pen, not yet welcome to the folds of the flock. They didn't seem to care. The rain was gentle and their coats thick and they were eating some first cut hay by the water tub. I opened the door to let them all out to graze and sat and shepherded them in the rain with Gibson. We took in the shower (a nice summer morning) and the flock grazed, all 11 of them.

Mabel and Merlin came over to check on their breakfasts. I give the horses a flake of hay because while they have the whole pasture it keeps their diet consistent and Mabel is new to pasture. She's been in stalls and paddocks for a long time and still considers hay "real" food. So do I. But we had sheep to sort first so the two horses swished tails and enjoyed the flyless summer rain while me and a wet dog watched the sheep.

The good news was no one was being violent to the new kids. They were being ignored. That's better than Monday deciding to push them around. The horses also didn't mind them. After a bit I herded the original 8 into their pen and shut the gate. I brought them hay instead of summer grass allotment and let the majority of the fields use this rain day to grow. The little lambs stayed out with the gate to their pen open in case they wanted shelter without a ram body guard.

Sheep. Such drama. Once you really know a flock you can cater to them in such ways. At least you can with such small numbers as mine. By winter only seven sheep will remain (6 if old Sal doesn't make it this winter) and that is a better number for limited pasture like mine. But I am proud of this year's management. Instead of brown from overgrazing and moss, there is grass everywhere. The horses and sheep are well. Even soaking wet on a hillside it feels good.