|(Carson being one with the flock - notice the almost photo-bomb?)|
Life has been full of difficult decisions for me lately. They're ones I knew would come to me some day, I just didn't think I would be facing them so soon. For many years, Mike and I have had discussions about how much longer I would be able to handle the sheep and for all of those years, my answer has always been, "Oh, I think I've got at least 10 more years of shepherding in me." I was obviously delusional, which I sometimes can be, when facing something I'd rather not. Just last week, we sent all of the ram lambs off to market. That in itself eliminated a whole feeding group. I also sold a few of my problem ewes and a few ewe lambs. Mostly, the ewes were the ones that were flighty and difficult to handle. They had beautiful fleeces, so I hope they are being appreciated. We just felt like it wasn't safe for me to risk being knocked down or dragged around by animals that outweighed me by a considerable amount. In the evenings now, when I feed Aslan his bowl of dog food, I have to bring him outside the gate to eat. Otherwise, the ewes confiscate his food and gobble it down themselves (and he lets them!). I use that time to go in amongst the ewes and wait for them to gather around me for scratches and rubs. Just being able to sit down out in the field with them brings me so much joy that I can almost
not feel too bad about selling the ditsy girls. So, at this point, I've reduced the number of sheep in my flock by half and have maybe half a dozen more that I should sell, if I can find the right homes for them. I just keep telling myself that this will allow me to be able to keep my sheep a little longer. I'm hoping I can allow the remaining girls to die of old age right here on Tanglewood Farm.
|Lady Sybil (or Sybie as we call her now), coming in very close!|
|Sybie's no slouch in the fleece department either. I think it's gorgeous!|
As for the little girls, they are getting calmer and sweeter by the day. Because of a mix-up on dates with the shearer, they did not get shorn this summer, so they already have 4-5 inches of gorgeous fleece. Soon, I'll be putting coats on everyone and I am already looking forward to shearing day in March! I can't wait to see what these little ones produce. They are all at least 1/2 Wensleydale, some of them 3/4 or more, and because of the cross-breeding I've done, their fleeces are soft and silky and beautifully lustrous.
We've had several fox sightings lately and Aslan has been kept on the alert for any who might stray close to the barn in hopes of a chicken dinner. Our neighbors lost eleven of their hens in just a few days, due to marauding foxes and raccoons. Raccoons may be cute, but they are death on chickens, as are possums (who are the exact opposite of cute, in my opinion). Life and death go hand-in-hand on the farm, even when you're vigilant.
We have some exciting events coming up in the next little bit. I'm heading south this weekend for a very fun workshop and then, within a very few weeks, the dream-of-a-lifetime trip for Mike and me. More about that next time!
Perhaps with a smaller flock you can keep on Shepherding for many years to come!!ReplyDelete
Carson looks so relaxed out with his girls.
I'm anxious to see the baby fleeces next spring!! Midgie is on my list.
I cant imagine how hard that is on you, but I hope you will be able to keep your small flock for a long time.ReplyDelete
I feel for you, having to let go of part of your animal family. I'm also finding my 60's more challenging than I thought they'd be! Trying to find joy in different things.ReplyDelete
Oh boy Diane I understand making hard decisions. I hope to visit my sister very soon actually. Will give a heads up and would love to see the flock. We can share stories in regards to aging bodies and maintaining the farm. It was so fun that time I was able to stop by for the spin in. Maybe I will be lucky again.ReplyDelete
I was worried that you were going to write that you were having to get out of sheep entirely, so I'm tickled to read that you are able to keep shepherding with a smaller, gentler flock.ReplyDelete