Friday, December 07, 2007

Even The Big Guy Wanted In!

I woke up this morning to rain and high winds, plus it was so dark I thought my DH had left early and the alarm hadn't gone off. Not so. It was dark due to the weather. By the time I got dressed, had that all-important first coffee in the morning, and headed out to the barn the rain was coming in sideways. I wondered how Skittles and the girls were fairing outside in their loafing shed.

When I got to the barn area, I found the girls to be in the loafing shed quietly chewing their cuds and gazing up at me as if to say, "What's wrong with you this morning?" Skittles was at his tire, guarding it as if the wind were going to blow it away. With all the rain, the now soft ground gave the post and tire a definite lean. Note to self: Next spring remove said "marvelous toy", use concrete around the base when properly righted and let concrete cure well before letting him have at it again. I felt of his fleece and noted that the wind had driven the rain very close to his skin. I didn't want him to chill, so I moved the young sheep to the end area of the barn by the chickens and put Skit and the Girls into the end of the barn we use for lambing jugs. I kept one of the barn shutters open for good ventilation, gave them hay and their grain, and made sure I turned on the camera to watch them. This will give his fleece a chance to dry out a bit before all this wet turns to snow this afternoon. As I write this blog entry, I am watching Skit herding the girls from one end of the pen to the other, stopping to single out Ailee as I believe she may not have settled yet and is coming into season.

Since everyone seems to have settled in for a bit, this gives me a chance to re-stoke the fire in the woodburner and have something warm to drink. I was totally wet by the time I came in. Barn coat, sweatshirt, and t-shirt all damp, I've set up a drying rack by the fire to dry everything out before I go out again to move sheep-people around again. By this afternoon Skit and his harem will be dry enough to weather the snow. Shetland sheep are known for their hardiness and ability to withstand rough climate conditions. Their fleece is thick and warm. Many a time I have seen them standing out in a snowstorm with six inches of snow on their backs. They do much better than we humans under similar conditions. We must rely on GoreTex and Thinsulate. Maybe all we really need is a good wool coat. :)
But it's the driving wind with rain that can stress a sheep. Wool will still insulate when it's wet, but why stress the animal when I can let them get in to dry a bit while we wait for the 40 mph winds to die down? Of course, most other rams are not obsessed with tire-toys. They'd be in the dry, wind free loafing shed with the others.

Ziggy's got the best idea...a nice warm fire, some meditation, and a snack every now and then.

Move over, Zig. Let me warm up here by the fire with you. Gee, Zig, did you ever think of getting a job as a pillow?

UPDATE: As of 4:50 pm, MST, we have had to put all sheep in the barn as flooding of our stream has come up to the bottom of the pens near the barn. With the help of my DH, we were able to get "The Chicken Side" ready for sheep. Half of this area is sheep quarters anyway, but we needed to remove some feeders to make room for the larger sheep. DH tried to get the camera working on that end, but to no avail. Something best suited for a nice dry day instead. We are in both a Flood Warning and Wind Advisory for the early evening hours. I will try to post again tomorrow with pictures.


Kathy said...

Hi All! Since posting this, Skit and his girls decided they would rather be outside in their loafing shed than in the barn. I'm not sure if they are Shetlands, or Silly Geese at this point. :)

Leigh said...

Ziggy looks as though he's got the best of it! Interesting post. At least the sheep have a choice.

Tammy said...

Geez, Kathy,
I hope the rains let up and the flooding recedes. This weather is unbelievable. Right now it is POURING down here, --but the temps are at 31 so some of it is already coating the trees and fences. I'm praying we don't get any more ice accumulation and lose power. I'm as ready as I can be, but that doesn't go very far sometimes! The sheep are all huddled in their barns out of the driving rain. They hurry out to munch hay at the big bales during the misting rain. I'm going to try and post a couple of pix (or email them to you) on the bobbin on the wheel and see if you think I've got it threaded right--it doesn't look like yours so I'm not sure if this is right or not.
Take care and try and stay dry--I've got gloves and coats and boots sitting around my wood stove too. :-)