Friday, June 30, 2006

And Who Are You Lookin' At?

This is one of Amanda's twins. He is so radically different in personality than the ram lamb (DH's buddy) of Lacey's. He actually acts like a ram - kind of stand-offish and will get close on his terms only. You could say we have mutual respect for each other. Right now I'm trying to decide if he stays, or goes on to become a sire for someone else as he is related to all the other sheep I have. While he is Amanda's boy, Amanda and Lacey are half-sisters. (This is starting to sound like things I heard about when I was stationed in Alabama!) :)
He's got good conformation and looks like he will have some good horn.
Hmmmm...this may be a hard decision in some respects. But as every Shepherdess knows, you just can't keep them all!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Can't Complain...

about rain, rain, rain! It has been WONDERFUL to have rain for three days in a row! We actually can turn the fans off and even pull up the wool blanket (Thanks again, Kelly & Ross!) by morning. It's great! You step outside and can smell that clean, fresh air filled with the scent of pines and aspens. I keep trying to tell my DH that, not only did he marry a farmer-type, but this "Person of Celtic Ancestry" actually likes rain and clouds and a break from the relentless sun we have here in the summer. Maybe it's because of the altitude and that it is so intense in the summertime. It's great for keeping our roads free of ice in the winter, but I'd much rather be in a forest or lush green pasture in the fog. :)
We are no longer on alert for the Brins Fire and will still keep fingers and toes crossed about fires caused by lightening strikes however. Our forests are all closed and hopefully that will cut down on the human caused fires.
Even the sheep have loved this weather. They've been bouncing all over the pasture during the breaks in the clouds today - chasing one another around and just having a ball. The "Moms", Lacey and Amanda are enjoying the times the lambs are off playing with each other. I'm sure they need the break and will almost be glad when weaning time arrives.
Everyone had a great time today...but I know what will come tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day when I will give everyone their vaccinations.
We'll see how high they jump after that! :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Where's My Camera When I Need It?

For the past two days we have had rain! We have started our "Monsoon" weather patterns and are very grateful for every single drop we get, even the hail that sometimes comes with the storm.
Today has been the first day I was able to really take some time down at the barn. In fact, I sat on the step into the feed room and as I slowed down enough to enjoy the day, someone came up - very silently - and put their head in my lap. I had been watching the chickens out and about and did not hear the "Stealth Attack" guessed it...Mr. Trouble! The little black ram who loves to be with people! Oh, he does enjoy the romp and stomp in the pasture and the good grass like all the other sheep, but if he sees me or my DH, he will make a point of coming over to get his chin scratched.
I have had to warn my DH not to get this little guy used to being scratched between the horns as that can encourage him to become a "basher" for attention. Not good behavior in a ram. Under the chin - OK; maybe even work up to a scratch behind the ears - but absolutely no attention to the horn area!
This little guy is just so sweet. I've never met a sheep like him. But then, maybe he's heard we have a freezer in the basement! ;)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Have Pen, Will Travel

Saturday saw us cleaning up about the Homestead as we realized during a community fire prevention meeting that we had, indeed, places around the property that needed some attention. Most of all, we hauled branches lost two winters ago when we had trees snap under a tremendous snow load. We had planned on burning them when we had appropriate weather conditions but never saw them. We also trimmed up the two Ponderosa Pines we have here after we were informed that it is better for the fire fighters to have all branches up to 10 feet from the ground removed to prevent ground fire up into the crowns of the trees. It was much needed work to be done and it was time we did it.
And thanks to our friend who owns the local feed store, we obtained a rack for the back of the pick-up truck with enough room to hold about six sheep and a bale of hay in front of it in the bed of the p/u. We wanted to build a truck rack like Kim's when she delivered the sheep, but realized that it was not feasible for us to have a rack as a permanent attachment to the truck. We just don't haul that many sheep around...yet. :) So, here's a picture, with my Other Half in it for a size comparison and Lacey and her ram lamb "modeling" the unit with a coaxing of a handful of grain.
Our thinking is that if we're prepared, we won't have to go anywhere!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Waiting Game

Today was the first day since the Brins Fire started in Oak Creek Canyon that I did not see smoke in the sky when I went out to let the sheep out of the barn this morning. Every morning this week has seen a column of thick grey and black smoke toward the southwest. The local news is filled with pictures of dry forests literally exploding in fireballs in terrain that you would think only a Mountain Goat could climb.
It's unnerving that it was just three weeks ago, we and our family from New Zealand were on that very road. Oak Creek Canyon is truly a gem in Arizona and a lush green spot when one grows tired of just Ponderosa pines or the white snows of winter.
Now we're playing the waiting game. Waiting to see if the fire crosses the only road through the canyon. Waiting to hear that people and pets have all evacuated that area. Waiting to see if any homes will be lost. Waiting to see if conditions change and we must evacuate our own home. Waiting.
We've certianly found out whom our true friends are as we've had many calls to see if we're OK, if we need any help, or to tell us we are welcome - sheep, cats and all - to find refuge at other's homes. Just the fact these people have called is calming. I have to explain that both myself and my DH were Army-trained to handle challanges and stresses like this and we are not only fine, but have things staged and ready to go should the need arise. It's almost like the old fire-horses hearing an alarm bell. It becomes second nature.
And when friends worry because we're in an area that can have such devastating forest fires and why don't we move, I respond with "Where to?" Each area of our country has it's own dangers: hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding - the list goes on.
But I have faith that we are where we are supposed to be. And we'll deal with whatever comes our long as we can take the cats, the sheep, the chickens and maybe, just maybe..each other.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Brins Fire -or- Preparing to Move in a Hurry

About 12 miles from where we are located is the Brins Fire, raging into Oak Creek Canyon and headed towards us. I find myself having very mixed emotions about the chance that I may have to grab all that is valuable and unreplaceable to me. On one hand, I am not looking forward to pushing sheep into the back of the pick-up, cats into the car, and various boxes of photos, valuable papers, and any irreplaceable mementoes wherever they will fit.
When you take a good long, hard look at the accumulation of "stuff" we acquire on "The Road of Life" and have to make up your mind what to take, what to leave, you begin to realize how much "junk" we bring into our homes and lives and what is really important.
As I look around I make mental notes: leave the electronics, take the pictures of my daughter riding in "El Tour de Tucson" in her U of A Jersey. Take the picture of my late father, but leave his collection of model trains behind. I mentally recognize that memories take up no space except for that in the brain and the heart and are the most transportable possession I have. The day to day "stuff" can be replaced. And I realize that what is really important to me I carry with me already - in my heart.
But, I will still leave room for my husband, the cats and the sheep in the vehicles. :)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ralph's Little Best Buddy

Ralph's Little Best Buddy, originally uploaded by Kathryn52.

This is the same ram lamb as the two previous posts. I thought I would show my DH with his "Buddy" for those unaccustomed to Shetland Sheep to see the size of this 7 week old ram. This is my DH's favorite of the bunch.
I wonder if it is because this little guy has a mind of his own, or whether it's that the little guy has figured out that endearing oneself to a human lessens the chance of becoming dinner or being sold.
Could it be that he's the smartest one of all?

I'm A Bad Boy!

New Sheep3 008, originally uploaded by Kathryn52.

Here's our Little Stinker..Mr. I-Don't-Have-A-Name-Yet-But-I'm-Into-Everything! Everyone else manages to get a minimal of dust, dirt and hay on them on windy days, but not this guy! He plows through the hay, even when it's on the ground. And I think he does this just for funnies!
This is the same ram lamb who eats anything and everything and gets a tummy ache. Yup. You guessed it! This is the culprit of the previous entry.
It's actually funny to watch him...he thinks differently than all the other sheep. Almost "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"-ish if you please.
This is one individual who marches to adifferent drummer!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

And Little Lambs Eat Ivy.....

There's one in every crowd, or family. You know whom I mean...the kid that is the explorer, the daydreamer, or when the family is doing one thing, chooses to do another. I found out I have one of those today.
I caught one of the lambs who usually follows me around off by himself today, trying to eat the leaves off an upright honeysuckle tree. Now that in itself didn't astound me, but what I caught sight of was this little boy's bum with a couple of "dags" on it. (Dags are an accumulation of manure for those not quite farm-wize) Now this could be very normal, or a sign of somthing not quite right with the little guy and warrants at the least a closer look. Well, upon inspection the little guy showed signs of "scours", shepherdspeak for diarrhea. I had an idea that we might run into something like this from the stress of being shipped from Washington to Arizona and adjusting to new surroundings, so I really wasn't all that surprised...
I had been letting the sheep out into the pasture for a short while each day, increasing the length of each visit that they may slowly become accustomed to Arizona grasses and weeds. Yesterday, while my DH and I were cleaning out the aformentioned other half of the barn, the sheep were very merrily making their way across the pasture with looks of glee on their sheepy faces. And this little guy way tasting anything and everything he could find. More so than the others, who stuck close to their moms. This guy (who hasn't received a name yet) was in "Hog Heaven" and was totally enjoying his tastings. A bit of apple leaves here, a Siberian Elm there, some grasses down by the creek, and oh, Look! some dutch clover, and then there's this tasty weed! He was enthusiastic to say the least. Then today, the dreaded "scours". I can't say that I'm surprised that his exuberance resulted in an upset digestive system. In fact, I have a certain amount of empathy for his plight.
A quick look through my sheep library and input from some really nice and sharing shepherds in my Shetland Sheep Group and the little guy received doses of probiotics and Pepto Bismol. While most sheep would view the dosing of these treatments with indignity this little black ram had a strange look on his face after I dosed him. Almost as if to say, "Hey! Thanks for the sauce and the After-Dinner-Mint!"
Yup. Every family has one. And I believe I know who the one is in our family!

And to Fathers everywhere - those who are with us and those who look over our shoulders from somewhere beyond - A VERY HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Work, Play & My Other Half

My DH got me up and out of the house this morning before my coffee even had a chance to kick in. We were cleaning out the other half of our barn. That old horse stall had been transformed into an auto part storage facility and mouse hotel, but had become Prime Real Estate.
While the sheep have only been here for less than a week, we both realized that space where they are now (sharing quarters with the poultry in another stall) is way too small for their growing needs and before we know it, we willl need their current space for lambs being weaned from their mothers. There was only one option.
Moving these car parts (hoods, trunk lids, etc.) means alot to me. You see, my husband has been trying to restore a 1953 Mercury which had been owned by his Aunt Betty and he actually rode in as a child. And he's doing this restoration without benefit of being in a garage, or under any sort of cover like a carport. This space in the barn was highly prized for storage of these essential pieces to this project. And for him to decide that my sheep were in need of the space more than his car just astounds me. It reminds me that, even after 30 years, of the give-and-take that a marriage requires. But even more so, that the spouse who gives be appreciated by the spouse who takes. Sometimes you're "The Taker" and somethimes, "The Giver".
And I am so glad I took the time to appreciate all he's giving. I sure hope the sheep realize the same. :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Beginning of Sheep Thrills!

New Sheep2 005, originally uploaded by Kathryn52.

From this small group: Lacey, and her two black lambs; and Amanda and her two moorit lambs, we will start Sheep Thrills Farm. These are Shetland sheep. They are small but they are very hardy and have great personalities as well as the soft wool they provide for warm clothing.