It continued to snow and rain all weekend. Yesterday I left the sheep in, worrying about the lambs and hypothermia. Today the whole flock was so obviously stir-crazy I turned them all out. I now have many dark and muddy sheep, to go with my muddy cow and bull calf and muddy horses. However, everyone looked healthy under the goop at evening chores. Still, they were happy to come into the barn out of the weather and bed down on dry pine shavings for the night.
Charlie, the bull calf, already knows his new stall and turns into it like a champion. Success!
Friday night I had a funny telephone call. I answered the ring to hear a crackly cell phone connection and the boisterous noise of what sounded like a bar crowd.
“What?” I repeated stupidly.
“Hello, sexy?” roared the voice.
“Larry?” I said, finally, starting to smile.
Larry is short and laughing and Irish. We have known him since he was 18 years old (he is now 40), when he first emigrated from Ireland. He is former co-worker, and a good friend of ours who is much younger and used to like to pretend to students (who tend to be mystified by most adult relations) that he was my boyfriend. The fact that I was always scandalized and scolding made the whole joke more fun for him.
“Well, I hope you don’t have too many people who call you that!” Larry said virtuously.
Larry now runs a local high-end horse barn. He knows or is somehow connected to everyone in town, high and low. He was calling to tell me that he was doing a job for someone who wanted to get rid of a small shed, and Larry thought it might work for my sheep.
He and I went to look at it today. It is a shed structure about 4×8 by 4′ tall — not perfect for my sheep, but it would be just the thing for piglets. I am planning to get two pigs in June, to use Katika’s excess milk after she calves. This will save me a day of labor cobbling together material from my scrap pile. It only needs a bit of repair to replace some rotted siding. Naturally, Larry also knows someone with a trailer. We’ll haul it with my truck sometime in the next few weeks. I am blessed by kind and thoughtful friends.
Meanwhile the school farmer, Mike, also called. Mike has a bummer lamb and no milk replacer. As a fellow-shepherd he had hoped I could help him. Unfortunately I don’t use milk replacer; I use raw cow’s milk, and Katika is now dried off.
You really notice the difference between processed milk from the grocery store and real, raw milk when a life hangs in the balance. I hope the store milk will keep his lamb alive.
Mike also told me that his beef cow, Roxanne, who was bred by my bull Georgie last fall, is not pregnant. He’s not sure if she never took or if she slipped her calf. I was concerned at the time by how fat she was. She was a three-year-old Hereford and had spent those years as a pasture ornament, eating happily. Fat heifers have a hard time getting pregnant and carrying to term. This will probably mean a ticket to the freezer for Roxanne.
Here she was last September.
Roxanne. Not a flyweight.
Naturally my mind goes to wondering if I could have Roxanne down at my place on a Jenny Craig diet… with a new boyfriend (Charlie in late summer). However I know I can’t rescue everyone.