Sunday, August 3, 2014

A tale of two lambs, a sheep, and a reindeer, Part 1

It started with Ellie Mae. Actually it started at a fiber festival back in May, but I'll start with Ellie Mae.

The day after I brought the Black Welsh home, Ellie Mae, the littlest ewe, escaped. She put her tiny head down to nibble the grass along the fence and the next thing she knew she was on the wrong side. I was working inside and happened to look up just as she popped through the hole. Years of chasing an expert escapist dog taught me a few things -- like always take the 30 seconds required to put on shoes -- but didn't cover everything you need to catch a runaway lamb -- like what to do if your fugitive doesn't wear a collar. A panicked Ellie Mae raced down the fence line of the 4 acre field, bleating the whole way, trying to find her way back in. As far as I could tell, Eloise, her mother never answered a single call.

But I did. That's how I followed her, calling and bleating, around the pasture, through the woods next door, across the neighbor's creek, through a hay field and finally into the cellar stairwell of a distant neighbor, where I cornered and caught her. The neighbor thankfully was not home. I had to carry the hot heavy mess of a lamb home in my arms. It must have been  99 degrees and 99% humidity. Well, maybe not that hot, but you know what I mean.

Was Ellie Mae thankful when I finally staggered back into the field and placed her next to her mother? No. Was Ellie Mae's mother, the neglectful Eloise, thankful? Not that I could tell. Does Ellie Mae treat me with any kind of special consideration at all for saving her from the doom of a little lost lambhood? No.

So, what does this have to do with anything else?

Well, it forced me to change my to do list for one. Instead of new fence for new pasture, I needed an upgrade to the old fence on the existing pasture ASAP. An upgrade that would allow me to sleep at night, to go to work during the day, you know, generally to be able to turn my back on the sheep without worrying that one would go through the fence.

I bought a big load of wire fencing and managed to staple about 500 ft to the inside of the wooden fence around the pasture. Then the lady next door yelled at me and I started making phone calls instead of nailing staples. I found some guys on craigslist who agreed to complete the fence. They said they'd have it done last weekend. They're still working on it.

Meanwhile as the Black Welsh sheep have been settling in, a nearby breeder of Bluefaced Leicesters was holding a group of lambs until they were old enough to be separated from their mothers and sent to a new home - mine. This idea was born at a fiber festival back in May, even before the Black Welsh were found. The plan was that the new lambs would join Clementine and the other ewes in the big pasture. But, because the fence in the big pasture was now deemed grossly insecure, I put the lambs, who finally arrived about 10 days ago, in the pony barn. They took the little paddock where the goats were last year, and where the new bucklings have been more recently.

The lambs ran out of grass after a week. I rebuilt the fence to enclose more. They ate that down to stubble as well within a couple of days. Some of them accept the hay I've been offering instead, but they are not all equally enthusiastic about it. As the completion of the fence in the big pasture stretched on, I began worrying about how the lambs would manage.

Then yesterday morning Bumblebee didn't get up.

That story will have to wait. I need to get some mowing done.


  1. NOT nice to leave us hanging like that!

    Does life with animals and fences EVER go smoothly? Do we ever have things really, really ready for any and all circumstances? Do animals ever stay where they're supposed to be? Heck, no. There seems to be a law 'bout that . . .

    Eager for the rest of the story!

  2. Oh sure, leave us all in suspense:)

    I'm up early today because a kind neighbor stopped to tell me that one of my donkeys was out. That darned Ramsey....