Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I separated the lambs from the ewes last night (all except the three youngest lambs), hence the title of this post. I found that the harp guitar CD my sister Jean sent me, playing on low volume, was enough to help drown out the wailing last night and let me sleep. The paddocks are right behind the house, so there's no way to get away from the upset at any rate. It shouldn't be too long before the lambs settle down and get used to just hanging with one another. What I find amusing is that for the past three or four weeks, if a lamb lost its mama out in the field, it could be screaming bloody murder and mom would just ignore it. But I guess total absence does make the heart grow fonder. They'll need to be separated a couple of weeks, and then the ewe and wether lambs can go back in the main pasture, and the ram lambs will become Josias' new little friends. If he's too rough on them, they can still be separated as they are now. (Josias and Fido got moved down to the bottom alleyway to give the lambs the larger area as well as a barn stall so that their creep feed won't get wet if it rains.)

That's What Friends Are For!
I got back home this past Saturday afternoon after an overnight marathon of a run up to Strasburg, VA, and back. Laura had said she and Chuck would try to come by and help me trim feet and they did, bless them! We got nearly 30 ewes done in no time, and even had time to work a few dogs in the round pen, on the whole flock of ewes with lambs, and later with just five or six of the yearlings and open ewes. I did a lot of the chore work with Pip (except for holding the sheep for us in the round pen, which was Nick's job, since I didn't think we needed Pip--the dog who doesn't want to lie down--pushing sheep over top of us repeatedly while we tried to trim hooves; Nick did a great job), and he's stepping up to the plate nicely. I figured a little diversion would be good for him considering that he's spent a lot of time in his crate over the past several weeks while Phoebe, Lark, and Kat were all in heat. Since Twist is on crate rest and leash walking, it's a good time to give all the youngsters turns, although when I need to do something quickly with the whole flock, like sorting out lambs last night, I just grab Kat and get it done.

I ran out of time over the weekend and didn't get a chance to set up the chute and foot bath, but hope to get that completed this coming weekend. Then we can start working sheep through the chute, which should be great for the young dogs. I also need to take notes on all the lambs in prep for sending in their registrations. That ought to be loads of fun, since I have to record the fur characteristics and other detailed information on each of the karakul lambs that I want to register.

A Camping We Will Go
I thought (hoped?) that my days of camping at sheepdog trials were behind me, but apparently not. I sold the antique Shasta camper about a year ago. I loved that little camper, but it cut my gas mileage in half, and with gas prices rising back then it became clear that I could spend the money on a hotel that I'd save not pulling a camper. The Shasta now has a new life as a photographer's studio.

So although I haven't trialed much lately, when I have, I've either stayed in a hotel or slept in the van. Sleeping in the van isn't a bad thing, really, but it's not something you really want to do for several days in a row. So for Memorial Day weekend when I go to Ben Ousley's trial, I will be pulling out the old trusty "Taj Majal" tent. It's a wonderful tent for camping--I just don't enjoy set up and tear down. And the poor thing has been used to the point of near death. Of the four doors in the tent, only one still has a working zipper. Sveral of the fiberglass poles are splintered. But maybe it will make it through one more season, because despite selling the camper, rising gas prices have made it virtually impossible to afford the gas to and from the trial and also get a hotel room. The dogs will enjoy being able to stretch out instead of having to sleep in crates, though, and Dr. Ben's is a pretty place, so as long as the Heavens don't open on us, all should be fine.

An Opportunity
Raven, littermate to Pip, Phoebe, and Nick, is coming back for a visit and should be here within the week. I will be starting her on sheep for her owner and over the next several months hope to have her at least to where she can do the necessary chore work to help her owner take care of her small sheep operation. I am looking forward to working with Raven since it will be cool to see how she's similar to and how she differs from her littermates. She reminds me a lot of one of Twist's littermates, the one who was something of a "throwback," who looked nothing like her siblings. I got to see Pepper at a trial recently and she doesn't work like Twist either. I do see Twist in Nick, Pip, and Phoebe, more so in the boys than the girls, so it will be interesting to see where Raven falls in the spectrum. I plan to videotape most of our training sessions for her owner, and will post them here if I can.

More on Books
A month or so ago, I listed some books I was reading. I've nearly gotten through them all, and I have to say that hands-down, Don McCaig's Rhett Butler's People was the best of the lot. As I read, I wondered whether having part of the story (Gone With the Wind) already written made Don's job more difficult or easier, but in either case, it was definitely an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who loved GWTW or likes fictional works of the Civil War era. I also read Free For All, which was a series of anecdotes about the encounters the author has had as an assistant librarian in suburban Los Angeles. It was a good read, but somehow I expected, I don't know, more. I worked as a branch head librarian for a time in rural northeastern North Carolina, so I could relate to what the author experienced, and maybe that's why I had higher expectations. Surely a library in L.A. would be more exciting than one in a tiny town in the North Carolina hinterland.... I am still reading the fourth book of that group, Life Class. I am enjoying it, although the inside flap material I quoted in an earlier post was a bit misleading I think. Still Pat Barker is a good writer. I admit, though, that I did put this book down in order to read Steve Berry's The Alexandria Link. Sometimes you just need a little mind candy, and this one was another page-turner like the previous book of his I read, The Templar Legacy. These are the sorts of books you pick up in the airport or while at work events to help pass the time while traveling or in the hotel room (face it, there's next to nothing worth watching on TV). The biggest problem I have with such books is that I find it difficult to put them down, so I end up reading long past my bedtime or when I should be doing something more productive. But if you're looking for a fun diversion while sitting in an airport or on a plane, check out Berry's books. If you like thrillers based in some historical religious fact, you'll probably like them.


~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

It seems to be a great accomplishment to get hooves trimed... I was going to have the shearers do it, but after that first ewe getting cut up, it went right out of my head! So, we still need to do ours :/

carson-crazies said...

It was a lot of fun! I'm over being sore now, and ready to go again. Hehe. For what it's worth, I'll be tent camping right there along with you! I haven't decided yet if I'll be coming up on Saturday or Sunday yet, but for now looks like Sunday morning early.

Anonymous said...

Very cool to be starting Raven! Have fun in your tent. I will be tenting it myself at my next trial (first time EVAH!)

Julie said...

Yes, it was quite a releif to get the hooves done. It's something that always goes better when you have someone helping. Given your adventure with the shearers, it's probably just as well you didn't have them do it--you might have ended up with amputee sheep (and no comments on that from the rest of the peanut gallery, thank you very much!).

Be careful what you say. I want to do the lambs too! Hee hee.

As for tent camping, there are worse things, and I do have it quite cushy with my air mattress and my personal porta-potty--the only time tent camping really sucks is when the weekend is one of continuous rain. So I'm hoping we're spared any rain that weekend.