Notes from Windward: #64

Spring is here - and so are the lambs

Pepper starts the season off with twins

     Our snowy winter is over and spring is here.

     The sheep made it through this very snow winter with only two casualties -

     One was the collapse of the shelter covering the lambing jugs. These small pens provided shelter to new mothers and lambs last spring, they provided shade to the flock last summer and they were used to sequester ailing sheep. Now they are a heap of collapsed pens covered by broken tubing and disheveled tarps.

     In a way this is a blessing. Although this shelter did its job, it had certain design flaws that made it inconvient to use. The cover extended a couple of inches beyond one end of the pens making it difficult to open and close those pens. It was especially challenging when dealing with a sheep that didn't want to be confined. Now we have a good reason to replace it with something better.

     Our second casualty was Iris. Old age and pregnancy, combined with a harsh winter, were too much for her. A chronic respiratory condition became critical and we had to put her down.

     Iris was a sheep with 'attitude', which sometimes made her a challenge to work with but also made her entertaining. She often looked at me with a heavy lidded stare that reminded me of the king in The Wizard of Id. In her prime, she was the alpha sheep, the number one matriarch, of the flock. But these last couple of years it became apparant that she had lost her status.

Grandma Pia stands guard over the lambs

     At grazing time she would head for a grazing spot (frequently a superior grazing spot) and the rest of the flock would go elsewhere. She was over ten years old and getting slow (it happens to us all). It was hard for her to keep up with the younger, more energetic sheep and we could here her wails when she was sometimes left behind. I miss here presence and the others need her leadership (they can't seem to decide who her successor is though there are several wanna-bes).

     Now the snow is gone and the wildflowers are blooming. Lambing is nearly through (only three more to go). Darius and Chaucer are proud first time fathers and Warner has proven he is still a lover. We have 19 leaping lambs, 13 of them twins (the math is right, we lost one). They are a magic mixture of colors and sizes. The biggest are Chaucer's offspring and the smallest are Darius'. Some are all black, some all white. Some (Chaucer's) have black or mottled faces, white bodies and speckled legs. All of Darius' lambs are black or brown, except one who is a mottled gray. They love to have lamb races and do antelope hops.

     We are in midst of grazing school. They have all figured out how to leave the pen (The mothers are no help. They head for the grass, take a few bites and 'baa' at their offspring. The one exception is Lark, a very protective Karakul who keeps her baby close to her.). All but one have figured out how to get back into the pen. They have all figured out that running and grass are good things.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 64