Thursday, October 2, 2008

Running, Always Running

Well, it's been a while since I've managed to update this blog, and a lot has happened, but since I'm taking a bit of time while I install a service pack on my desktop computer, I'll give a quick review of the past week.

Last weekend was devoted to making more apple butter (yum) and a demo at my neighbor's alpaca farm on Saturday. I dragged Laura and Mary along. It's been raining enough lately (I never thought I'd say that) that I was afraid of trying to load sheep on the trailer for fear of getting stuck, so I took my steady hair sheep and Twist and walked them down the side of the road to the neighbor's farm, with Mary and Laura following in the van with flashers on to warn oncoming traffic. We made it in one piece. Laura and Mary did a nice job working their dogs for the demo while I talked. I then briefly worked Twist, Kat, and Lark to demonstrate different working styles and looks of the dogs themselves. At the end, I sent Laura and Nick into the wilderness to take the sheep back home through the back of the Snider's property and onto our property. It took Mary and me a while to get away thanks to folks asking questions, so when we got back home we expected to find Laura waiting for us, but no Laura.

So I started walking down through the pasture to the back gate. Then I saw Laura and my first thought was "What is she doing in the big pasture?" Then it dawned on me that she was actually behind the big pasture. I walked up the back road and around the fence from the other side as Laura worked her way around from her side and we met up in the woods in the middle. Fortunately there was a nice wide path going up through the woods that led us back out to the back road and down to the back gate so we could put the sheep back up. I felt bad that I had managed to get Laura lost wandering around back in the woods, but she proved her mettle as a shepherdess by keeping it all together and getting the sheep safely home.

Apple butter making started a bit later on Saturday than the previous Saturday because according to the National Weather Service, the rain we'd been having would clear out by Saturday afternoon. Not! Just about the time we were bottling the apple butter, the heavens opened. Thank goodness for Easy Up-type tents, and a fast working bottling crew!

Sunday was a pretty restful day, although I did go out and worm the entire flock on Sunday evening. I used Twist for the group behind the barn but then got Pip to help me with the main flock. His job was to bring the flock up and put them through the chute. The chute isn't long enough to hold the whole flock, so Pip had to push the sheep forward as needed and then just stay at the back of the chute and prevent the part of the flock that wouldn't fit from taking off for the hills while I wormed what was in the chute. He did have to do a couple of regathers before he gained a full understanding of the job, but once he figured out what I wanted, he did it very nicely. I think he's going to be a great chore dog just like his mom.

This week has largely been devoted to getting work done for TBM. I finally took my two remaining Tunis ewes down to Tony and Mary's on Wednesday so they could be bred. I then came home and moved the hair sheep and lambs from behind the barn back into the main pasture. I then gathered the entire flock and sorted off 11 of my best karakul ewes and moved them to the area behind the barn for breeding. I put my little red ram lamb in with them. Not only was he dwarfed by the adult ewes, but he also seemed a bit overwhelmed. I've been assured that a 5+-month-old ram can do the necessary job, but I have my doubts? I guess we'll see in another 5 months. I had to sell off so many sheep this year thanks to the early drought and lingering aftereffects of last year's drought, so I won't really mind if they don't all get bred. As long as I have a few lambs this spring, I'll be fine.

Unfortunately, the new flock behind the barn is not very amenable to staying in the unfenced pasture to graze, since they really wanted to go back to their buddies in the main pasture (via the road out front), so I am going to have to feed them since I can't work in my office and constantly check to make sure they haven't gone off on an adventure somewhere. So I'll need to bring in some hay and feed for them to make sure they have plenty of appropriate nutrition. I need to buy some electronet, but it will have to wait until my next bonus, I think.

Last night, Laura and Tony came over to work dogs in preparation for the trial this weekend. We thought we'd give the dogs the extra challenge of the karakuls behind the barn, but let's just say the challenge was greater than anyone needed, so after working them with several dogs, we put them back and pulled out a couple of hair sheep and several lambs. They were still plenty light and challenging but not nearly as crazy as the all-karakul group we started with. We ended up working some of the youngsters in the dark. I love fall, but the early darkness makes it a bit harder to fit all the chores and work we want to get done in the evenings.

Today, I'm trying to wrap up work stuff so I can head out to Montpelier tomorrow. The trial itself isn't the greatest draw, since the sheep are usually not the greatest to work, but the fiber festival is loads of fun and I plan to do as much window shopping as I can!

Next week I'll be helping with the demos at the Dixie Classic Fair. Henry and Lou Ann normally help out there, but they'll be off at a sheep show, so Tony and I have divided between us the days they'll be gone so that there will be adequate help there.

And my download is done! I'll try to have an update, along with pictures, after the trial this weekend.


sheepkelpie said...

Looks like your trial season is amping up- I am jealous! Ours is winding down, and mine's over. Bummer. Have fun this weekend, and hey- I want some apple butter!
ps: don't forget, I am willing to help you with that ram at Rhinebeck.

Nykemartyn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Julie said...

Hey Julie,
If you want apple butter, you have to come get it (and bring a dog or two along to work sheep)!

I think I've decided against that ram. I talked to another karakul breeder this past weekend, and she says she can find me what I want for not quite so much $$.