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Yes, it’s been a while. We’re still here – the sheep are across the gully, the first round of hay is in the barn, the greenhouse is full of towering tomato plants, the blueberries are ripening (and anxiously awaiting irrigation), and the Ironwood tree in the driveway is showing off its “hops”.
And, I’ve been putting my camera to use, so there are more posts on the way, too.
The weather has been a little unseasonably warm…and the mud has kept the animals from getting out into the fields.
I think the young ones have been going a little stir crazy.
Colder days have arrived, however, and the first batch of pregnant ewes are showing their situation (and complaining about it, at times).
However, Loretta (our
best favourite ewe) is always steadfast and sweet.
Wishing you all the best of the season, and a happy, healthy and heartwarming New Year.
I know it has been far too long since I’ve updated this blog. What can I say? Life gets away from you…
I’m going to try to make an effort to get back on the blog wagon, and I’m hoping that Rupert’s promise of a new camera will help inspire me. Except, it isn’t inspiration that I lack (see that face above!) – It’s time, and discipline…and time.
I’m not there yet, but this is a start.
See you soon. ~hj
Rupert likes to remind me that there is more to life on the farm right now than sheep and house renovations…
Unfortunately the cows aren’t posing for any good pictures these days, and the ground hasn’t been frozen enough for Rupert to get out into the woods with the tractor to start cutting next year’s firewood supply. Hopefully before 2011 comes we’ll be able to share more details about life here at Ironwood. Oh, and I do still have a few more posts about those sheep…
Stay tuned. hj
The birthday excitement continued as we finished with shearing, took the cake out of the oven, and headed for Pictou county to pick up the new additions. Although we were both tired, and somewhat under the weather, it was a beautiful fall day, and I always enjoy watching the free-run Romney grazing on the hillside pastures under the watchful eye of the guardian llama.
Our shearer had paid a visit to the Romney on Saturday, so the young girls we picked up are as sleek as our Dorset – the rest of the flock won’t be done until the spring, so the difference in size was quite startling.
We hadn’t really settled on a number before we arrived, but we decided on 4. 3 Romney and a Shetland x that sweetly presented herself at my side so that it was impossible to leave her behind. Being significantly smaller than our others, it was relatively easy to hoist them into the back of the truck where Hazel could keep an eye on them, and we went in to have tea and chat about the joys (and frustrations) of shepherding. We’re realizing that all of the various “sheep people” are characters themselves – they all have different opinions and are happy to share their experiences, and we learn something new from every conversation (especially me).
Back home, we moved Luke to his new space and unloaded the little ones. They were surprisingly quiet, despite only having been separated from their mums and the rest of the flock on the Friday, and they enjoyed rooting around through the bedding straw for the oats that weren’t combined.
We had been thinking about Greek goddesses for this group of girls, but so far none of the names have really stuck. They seem far too small and young for powerful goddess names at this point – my students are happy to give their input and the suggestions are quite creative. We’ll have to let things percolate as we get to know their personalities. Some would scoff at naming the girls, but they say that they’re actually more productive if they are named – and you tend to be more aware of their personalities and therefore can read signs of distress more quickly when problems arise (plus, I just want to name them – who cares what anyone else says?).
Although they all seem to have adjusted to the new surroundings and the choice of food, the smallest of them (the “sweet” Shetland who made herself so irresistible) has made herself the most at home by insisting on jumping out of the pen every chance she gets and investigating beyond the barn. I think she imagines the cattle are part of her flock – why not? They all have 4 legs and enjoy grazing in the clover! I’ve been so busy keeping track of her that I haven’t been able to take many pictures.
Luke continues to be a big softy in many ways, but he is also getting more aggressive as he gets comfortable and closer to the girls that are starting to cycle. Rams that are too friendly as youngsters can be quite difficult to have as they mature. I’ve been given orders not to handle him on my own (a hard ram from him is just about at kidney-level for me), but hopefully he will relax a little once he has been able to “work” and things settle down again. hj
Sheep arrived back at Ironwood Farm last week after a ten year absence. Five Dorset x Suffolk ewe lambs were acquired from Margaret Zillig, one of the province’s best known Dorset breeders. The lambs are heavy, being born as singles in January. They will be ready for breeding this coming autumn. Adult accompaniment is being provided by Mutton and Stomper, two mature, non-descript ewes. They are to provide a leadership role on pasture, an outcome in some doubt because the pair of them have bullied and butted their young charges into a trembling minority at the rear of the sheepfold.
In 2000, I helped Stanton Sanford, the former, 86 year-old owner, of what was then Avonmouth Farm, load the last of his sheep on a cattle trailer. At one time, the farm boasted 250 ewes and consisted of 800 owned and leased acres along the Hants Shore. My goal is for the sheep to complement the cattle’s grazing habits and make better use of Ironwood’s abundant grassland. Cashing in on the high demand for lamb is also part of the farm’s evolving business plan. Reality, of course, is that the profit margin on lamb sales will be marginal at best, and Heather’s interest in wool fibre may well prove equally rewarding. RJ