Sunday, April 15, 2007


My sheep are here!! They actually arrived at the crack of dawn on the morning of Friday the 6th. I was up until about 11:30 the night before, walking down our road to the main road with a flashlight to make sure Ron wouldn't miss the turn. His communication system is a little crude (to say the least) so all I knew was that he had crossed into California at 5pm Thursday night and was headed toward me. Well, I woke early Friday morning to a trailer full of little ewes poking their heads out, checking out the new surroundings. Between Ron's rig and trailer, visits from my eager family members, two carpenters, an electrician, a lumber delivery truck, a couple of Bob and Jean's customers and a few other random visitors the farm was a bit of a three ring circus that day. After considerable effort on Ron's part, the sheep finally made their way out of the trailer into the horse corral we had designated as their quarantine pen. Eagerly examining them as they appeared, I saw one baby ram lamb, another older ram lamb with the characteristic Freisan rat tail, and yet another! And low and behold the baby lamb was nursing on its mother. It wasn't until Jean pointed out to me that that meant she was in milk that I realized Steve had sent me a girl I could milk right away! There was also one lovely little black ewe, making for a total of 54 sheep. Ron then spent quite a while hosing down the inside of the trailer and raking through the manure in search of the metal pins that my nimble little sheep had pulled out of all of their slots on the boring ride from Wisconsin. He said they sounded like they were playing slot machines the whole way out here.

Well, you might imagine the past week has been a bit busy as I am just now getting to posting. Last weekend we opened the gate of the horse corral so the sheep could get their first sampling of pasture. I had been acutely worried that they would overeat on pasture and turn up with bloat, but it actually took an effort to get them to go out and eat grass. Their first experiences with the electric fence made them all a little weary, but within a few days they were happily munching away in the lush green to my delight.

I spent my days off of work (my paying job) last week at a sheep rodeo and spa. The sheep had been in heavy snow and in barns this past winter and were in desperate need of a mani/pedi. I think there must have been something in their diet that had contributed to excessive nail growth as well, because every one of them had really long hooves, some to the Dragon Lady extent. It has been quite some time since I last handled sheep and my technique is a bit rusty. Let's just say that during the first hour of sheep wrangling Jean and I both were spread eagle in the straw and manure more than once. Jean then remembered she had a sheep halter, which made things a lot easier, and my friend Adriana of nearby Tomatero Farm( one of the growers I buy produce from for Gabriella Cafe) came by to help. Shortly after, Ben, my former souz chef, stopped by unannounced to see the sheep and was quickly recruited as number one sheep catcher. I am not sure if having four people was actually any faster than two, but the moral support was great, and after Jean and Adriana had to get back to their own work, Ben and I became pretty efficient at catching and trimming. I was pretty over it all though, after I cracked my kneecap really hard on a large rock while grabbing one of the rams. That night I was so stiff and sore in both knees that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get to the remaining 32 sheep that needed to be trimmed any time soon.
However, a good night's sleep and a couple of days off from the rodeo circuit and I was back in business. I tried to coerce various farmer friends at the Farmer's Market to come out and help me wrestle sheep but I couldn't find any takers. To my surprise though my mom volunteered to come help. We ended up setting a good pace with me catching the sheep (while Mom helped be a barrier to crowd them into a corner), and Mom holding them while I trimmed. As one of the ewes was trying to escape over the door to the horse stall where we had trapped her and a few others, my mother scolded her in her "bad dog" voice, "NO! Get down from there! NO! Bad girl!" It had me cracking up laughing because sheep really don't care if you scold them. She also talked in her "good dog" voice to the ewes as she held them if they got squirmy or a little anxious and it made me realize where I get my proclivity for animals.

While we had the sheep detained one at a time I took advantage of the opportunity to give them all names:
Sweetpea, Poppy (the mama), Babe (the little lamb), Orchid, Buttercup, Sunflower, Honeysuckle, Tigerlilly, Wysteria, Dahlia (the black one), Pansy, Iris, Violet, Freesia, Lilac, Hyacinth, Jasmine, Nasturtium, Azalea, Amaryliss, Zinnia, Magnolia, Fuschia, Rose, Daisy, Petunia, Morning Glory, Verbena, Periwinkle, Marigold, Calendula, Tulip, Camelia, Daffodil, Snowdrop, Begonia, Crocus, Lupine, Posey, Tansy, Hibiscus, Nigella, Gardenia, Borage, Columbine, Bluebell, Larkspur, Oleander, Chyrsanthemum, Foxglove, Rudbeckia, Cosmo and Goldenrod (the rams) [and then Tina, the biggest, fattest, and possibly pregnant ewe that already had a name]


At 3:44 PM, Blogger jenna said...

I've just recently decided to start working towards fulfilling my dreams rather than just sitting around saying, "I wish I could..." Hearing stories like yours reminds me that it takes much more than wishes.

Your courage and drive is inspirational. I'm confident that great things will happen for you!


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