Saturday, October 21, 2017

She's Baaa-aack


After the sheep were shorn back in the spring, the Sheep Chicken* had to stop sleeping on her ledge.  She couldn't get enough traction on the slick sheep backs to make her jumps.  About the time their wool started growing back to an acceptable length, the days got long and hot and the sheep stayed out grazing in the evenings, well past the time when she wanted to go to bed.  

She slept in the coop all long summer.  A week or so ago I noticed she was back on her platform perch.  I caught an occasional picture of her on various sheep's backs, jumping for her ledge, but hadn't had time to post them and then forgot. 

Two nights (or I should say late afternoons - chickens go to bed early!) ago short little Clover Belly followed a couple of the older sheep in hoping for an evening snack.  She didn't get one, but poked around the stalls for a bit looking for anything that might have dropped.

She was standing at the doorway between the inside and outside stalls (the right side of the picture) when the chicken hopped aboard.  She stood there for a couple seconds and then walked straight over to the ledge and the chicken jumped on up.  If you look closely you can see her next to the fan on the back wall. 

Sometimes I just "live in the moment" and watch what goes on without recording it.  Sunrises and sunsets are always better in real life and should sometimes just be enjoyed.  Bees working flowers...well, they are good either way.  A chicken and sheep so deliberately working together, especially one I've never seen helping the chicken before?  I wish I'd turned on the video camera.

*     *     *   In other news  *     *     *

Hank and June are now best friends.  Other than taking a walk yesterday where she shouldn't have, June is doing really, really well.  I'm putting up some more fencing today to hopefully stop her from future exploration missions.  If the Adventure Chickens figure out they could ride her to town... :-o

Cecil Aguilar's been back and made something extra special for us.  I'm telling you, drystone work is like tattoos.  Once you start you can't stop.  I of course took lots of pictures including a very cool one with Eli, who is trying really hard to make the calendar next year.  I'd say things are looking good for him ;-).

Tonight is the big neighborhood Pumpkin Carving Party.  I had planned to try to do a special felted pumpkin to carve, but...I'm now spending my day putting up fence :-/.  At least I can think about my real pumpkin design while I work.  I'm guessing it will be a Biscuit and Muffin design.  Stay tuned!

I don't know how it could possibly be almost the end of October, but it is and next Saturday is National Hug a Sheep Day :-D.  We are once again hosting a farm party to celebrate and would love if everyone could come!  Needless to say if I can't find time to post blog pictures, I probably haven't had time to work on the teleporter either, but June is all about some cookies as are Biscuit and Muffin and Mrs. Pepperpot and everyone else.  It will be a fun afternoon if you can make it :-D.

*     *     *   One more thing   *     *     *

When I was looking for a link for the words "Sheep Chicken" above, I found the post about Baby Belly and Spud helping last year.  I'd forgotten that had been Baby Belly.  Clover Belly is Baby Belly's daughter.  While Muffin may have ditched me and Mrs. Pepperpot, Clover Belly stayed very close to her momma her whole life.  We lost Baby Belly last week.

I am quite sure we don't have even an ounce of understanding about what goes on between animals, especially animals in a close family.  I was amazed that a sheep who I had thought had no previous experience with the chicken routine was helping out.  Now I'm extra amazed.  Remember Tilly stepping up after Iris died?  Something else to ponder while I'm stringing fence today.

SO, as I did with the long post about Tilly, let's see who made it to the end of this epistle.  Leave me a comment saying which sheep you'd love to hug most and I'll have 20 draw for a winner at the end of the weekend.  There's a 2018 Farm Calendar in it for the winner :-).


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Well, It's Not Just Me

I think I've mentioned how all the girl bottle lambs move out of the house and out to the barn and immediately forget they ever loved and needed you more than anything in the world.  The boys?  They never completely grow up.  

I've tried to tell myself that I just raise strong girls who are ready for the real world and hit the ground running.  I do think that's a fair assessment, but I raise the boys the same though and I am having to stand next to Biscuit while he eats now (without the creep feeder) so he feels confident and stays focused ;-).


I peeked around the corner of the barn at lunchtime and saw Biscuit and Mrs. Pepperpot side by side and assumed Muffin was just a little further around the corner...


...or halfway done the barn (!).  That's her next to Bullwinkle at the end of the blue gate, sassily chewing cud with her back to her long suffering momma.  

Poor Mrs. Pepperpot. At least she still has Biscuit.  Those boys won't let you down ;-).


Monday, October 16, 2017

The First Official Meet And Greet

There had been an accidental meet and greet a couple months ago when I'd not latched a gate all the way and the two lambs gleefully bounced out into the big flock with Mrs. Pepperpot having a stroke racing along behind them trying to fight anyone daring to get close to Muffin.  The "official" meet and greet went much smoother.  


As I'd mentioned before, Muffin just marched on out into the main flock like she'd been there all along.  Mrs. Pepperpot still wasn't thrilled, but there was no stopping her bold baby.


Biscuit was a bit more backward reserved, but B. Willard, who'd been a bottle lamb many years ago, helped him feel welcome.


Mrs. Pepperpot finally caught up with Muffin and then gathered Biscuit to get them both to "safety".


"I'm coming.  Waaait!"


But not far enough away.  Here comes Tara.


"Don't get in a punching match with a sheep with horns, Biscuit."


"Uh oh, I can't believe he did that.  I'm probably going to have to go break this up. That boy will never grow up."

She didn't.  Everyone got along fine.  It was getting late when I finally was able to let them out (the night before June came) so we only stayed out for a little while and then the three came back out for dinner and bed.  I have one more group of pictures to share and then we should be almost sort of caught up.  For now.  


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Happier Hank


"What's the matter, Hank?"  

"Everything.  I need a tummy rub."


"Sorry Miss June, but it's Hank's turn."


"Can you believe that?  That guy is so mean, talking to that other dog and not me."


"This place is (yawn) terrible."


Hank loves everyone, but he especially loves Saint Tim :-).  



Just making sure June knows he's getting all the attention.  June's not losing any sleep over it ;-).


"I think I need some more tummy rubbing."


And that's why Saint Tim is his favorite ;-).


Before you feel too sorry for June, she'd already had a turn ;-).

Flock dogs are endlessly fascinating.  While many people have seen border collies working, herding sheep under direction of a shepherd, the only way you could get a taste of how livestock guardian dogs work would be to live with them.  I love the teams of guardian dogs at The Training Center and Final Frontier Farm.

The first night June was here we heard Hank and June barking together out back.  When the coyotes started calling last night I woke hearing June barking in the side field, up near the road.  Hank was barking out back.  They'd divided up and put the sheep, in the barn, between them.  Teamwork!

In the past Hank would have had to work the back AND the front.  It's not like this is big open range, but that's still a big job traveling back and forth.  This morning when I walked out to let the chickens out I quietly peeked around the back of the barn.  Both dogs were sound asleep together in the barn lot about 25 feet apart :-).  

I did morning chores about an hour later and Hank seemed much happier this morning.  He finally allowed himself to slip out the gate to make his normal yard check and then a big loop out back and I think that helped as well.  We've had everyone closed into the arena, barn lot and side field so we can keep a close eye on everything for a few days.  

I think life is starting to settle back down.  For everyone.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Meet June

While it seems impossible that Hank is nine...even though it also seems like he's been here forever...Hank is nine...and it's time to think about bringing along the next generation of farm security.  

I was hoping to wait another year or twelve, but the point was made that it would be best to do this before Hank got too old and then a situation presented itself that seemed like a gift from the dog gods and, well, meet June.


June is a 6 1/2 month old Anatolian Shepherd.



She loves sheep.


Even, I think, our Very Opinionated Sheep.



This afternoon.


Checking in with Hank.


I've had several questions about how Maisie likes her.  You can tell by her face that she is not a big fan.  I was surprised by that as she loves Hank.  She might come around...but it might take some time, sort of like cookie eating* ;-).


I'm honestly not really sure how Hank feels about her.  In the beginning I think he was excited to have some company, but he was also a little concerned about her around his sheep and watched her pretty intently all day.  Today he didn't worry about her much at all, but did seem maybe a little miffed that she was still here.  

She's very good around the sheep so I think that's reassured him safety-wise.  We've tried to make sure he knows he's still very special and loved and he and Saint Tim had a big tummy rub session this evening and that cheered him up quite a bit.   He's run this farm by himself for almost nine years.  Change is hard.  But change is frequently good.  Right, Maisie?  ;-)

*Maisie has refused to eat cookies her whole life (almost five years) and just when I was thinking I needed to get a video of her torpedo-ing a cooking out of her mouth...she decided to prove me wrong and start eating them.  She probably still hates cookies, but thinks that's funny.    


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