As you know, I'm not working at the moment. (How's that for positive thinking? It's only for the moment after all--I'll be back in the full-time employment saddle before I know it!) And yet my days are fuller than ever just doing stuff around the farm.
Laura came over Wednesday evening to walk dogs and help me set GlenGrant up in his marking harness so I could actually do things right and know just when (or if) the tunis ewes were bred. We then sorted off the mule ewes and put them out in the main pasture (Twist and me) and sorted the tunis ewes from the main flock and brought them into the paddock with GG (Laura and Nick). For those of you waiting for an entertaining video of the harnessing process, I have to apologize--it was amazingly simple and there were no video-worthy antics to charm you with. Of course I need to wait for the ewes to cycle, but I suspect that by the time they do, the marking crayon will be long gone. Can someone tell me why my tunis ewes all have green crayon marks on their briskets? What are they doing at night--standing up and slow dancing with GG in the moonlight? GG himself is pretty much covered in green from the chest down. He's somehow even managed to turn his derriere green. WTF? What are these sheep doing??? Aside from the obvious, which is that they are certainly not breeding..... Fun coloring with crayons, anyone?
After observing my absurdly green-colored sheep yesterday morning, I went to check on my broody OEG hens. One had hatched a couple of chicks in a nest box and then moved to the floor of the chicken house, presumably when the chicks did their mad bungee jumps (sans bungee) out of the nest boxes, and so I had put them all in a small cat crate for their protection. The second hen was sitting on a nest she had built in another cat crate (left there after a previous hatching incident). When I had checked her the night before, she had just one little grey chick, but by yesterday morning she had seven hatched out (many colors). The cat crate was clearly too small for her burgeoning family, so I moved both hens and their chicks out into the pen where there's an old intermediate Vari-kennel and a hutch of some sort that I found in an old chicken house when I was living in Elizabeth City. I had to spend some time cleaning these out and putting some shavings in (so the hens would have something to scratch in and use to trash the waterers and feeders with--wouldn't want them to have dull lives after all). They'll stay in these cages for about a week and then will move out to the chick tractors. It's supposed to be nasty rainy this weekend, so I think they'll be more secure under the roof of the chicken pen and in the security of their "kennels." While I was doing all the prep work, Lark was keeping a close eye on the hens and chicks in the chicken house. She came in handy because one time I walked away to get chicken feed and turned to see that both rams had taken advantage of the unlatched pen door to go in and see what was what. They were mighty surprised when I called on Lark and she popped out of the chicken house and into their faces. Lark's other bit of usefulness is when the nasty little roosters come after me, which they invariably do, and always when my back is turned, natch. I've encouraged Lark to break up rooster (ahem, NOT cock) fights in the past and that training has come in handy when I need her to chase a rooster off me. Who knew raising itty bitty game bantams could be so hazardous to human health and safety? Thanks to Miss Larky, I am mostly safe from both rams and roosters, thank goodness.
On the big hen front, several of the Dominiques have decided that the round bale feeder is an ideal nesting spot. The sheep aren't really eating any hay, but really do I have to dig around inside the bale feeder to search for eggs? Ladies, what's wrong with the nest boxes in the walk-through stall? Give me a break!
The middle part of the day was pretty uneventful, but when it came time for our afternoon walk, the next crisis ensued. As I turned the corner at the bottom of the ram paddock, I heard some strange growling noise, and my first thought was Phoebe and that she might be having a seizure. I followed the noise to its source and there she was, in the midst of a lovely huge stand of poison ivy. Oh, how my sensibilities warred with one another: the instinct to go get my poor dog and the instinct to preserve myself from poison ivy rash hell. Of course Phoebe won out, but really Phoebe, did you have to put yourself right up against that huge rope of a poison ivy vine? Can't any of y'all cut me any slack? As soon as I waded through p.i. jungle and got Phoebe out of there, she was on her feet and fine and we conitnued on our walk. We had just had a brief downpour, enough to make the ground slick, and sure enough, I slipped going around the corner by the creek and nearly cracked my wrist catching myself (hello, wake-up call to lose weight--less pressure on whatever body part I use to catch myself during falls like this). I was wearing those darn Crocs, and so after righting myself I had to pull them off and try to shake out the pound of mud that came in through the holes when I slid in the first place. Who thought it was a good idea to put holes in clogs? So far this spring I've gotten stabbed by a stick through them (and the stick apparently had been in contact with poison ivy so that I ended up with a glorious and unpleasant mess on my foot) and now the bulldozer effect. Sheesh! I spent the rest of the walk constantly reminding myself not to touch my face with my hands.
Once back at the house, I went ahead and fed the sheep behind the barn and Maia too. By then I had about 45 minutes before the eye doctor's office closed and I needed to go pick up my contact lens order. But I couldn't not get in the shower first and scrub everything as hard as I could for p.i. prevention (and so far it seems to have worked as I have no breakouts yet). I left the house at 5:40 for the 10-mile trip to Randleman. I was doing great until some yahoo pulled from a side road right out in front of me and proceeded to poke along at a snail's pace. I did manage to get my contacts, and the bonus of going to Randleman was that I could go by the Wild Onion and get a "garden weasel" salad--one of my faves and something I've been craving for a couple of weeks.
I got back home with my salad and fed the dogs and let everyone out. I then managed to eat the barbecued shrimp off the top of the salad before the phone rang. As I was talking, I put the salad in its closed container on the trunk next to where I watch TV, since last night was Grey's Anatomy season finale night (not to be missed). My next big mistake was to walk into the other room to look something up on the computer in answer to my friend's question. Next thing I know I hear growling of the sort that dogs do when they're "discussing" whether food is to be shared. Huh? So I marched back into the living room to fuss at the dogs only to find my salad on the floor and the object of contention. WTH? These dogs wouldn't eat lettuce if you coated it in hamburger and handed it to them. But last night of all nights, when I had gotten a salad I'd been craving for a week or more, the little bast**ds had stolen it, dumped it on the floor, and eaten a good part of it. Now I'm not one to generally eat something if I think one of the cats' or dogs' faces have been in it, but in this case I salvaged the scant bit of salad left in the box and ate it, which only made the loss of the bulk of it that much worse to bear. Maybe I should have fed them all lettuce for breakfast this morning....
So, you see, even though I'm not working, life is still pretty busy around here, although it seems to be mostly in a "joke's on me" kind of way. Maybe I'll sell enough junk at Laura's mom's neighborhood yard sale tomorrow to pay for a matinee ticket to Star Trek. If Sunday's really going to be a washout, engaging in a little fantasy escapism might be just the ticket.