Thursday, March 24, 2011

They're here!

The lambing has begun. Tuesday morning I heard Don leave for work. Or rather, I heard the sheep when he left. I figured there was something up because they are usually not that loud when just let out of the barn. So, when I did the first barn check that morning, there was a ewe and lamb in the first jug. Nothing else was going on, so I put Dolly in the kennel for the day, and went to town for nursery shopping with my daughter in law.

I drove in a terrible but brief rainstorm on the way home. Don and Dolly were in the house, where they had taken quick cover as the storm was hitting just as Don got home. He said he thought there were probably more lambs in the barn, but he hadn't taken time to look.

So, we both went out to check. Sure enough, numbers 2 and 3 had arrived. Both singles, a buck and a ewe, but BOTH BLACK! Well, one was spotted, as you can see. What cute little things lambs are, regardless of the color. And, like last year, the first ewe lamb of the season has a name. She has little black circles in the white around her mouth, so I started calling her Dimples. We'll see if it sticks.

Meanwhile, back at the house, other progress was made. Shortly after returning to the computer to post the pictures on FB,, Dolly emerged from her spot under the end table by Don's chair. She looked at me strangely, and shook violently in a wave like action typical of wet dogs, in a progression from head to tail. Then she blinked hard a couple of times, and rolled her eyes as if to say " What day is it? I need to get back to work." Which she promptly did. As if just waking up from her 5 day sleep, she wanted out. She watched Don finish chores. She laid at our feet while we ate. She moved back to her usual place in the office for her evening nap.

Wednesday morning, she was at the shop door waiting to be let out. She went on her usual morning rounds. Throughout the day, she followed me around the house, and occasionally wanted out to check the sheep. The afternoon visitor sent her into a frenzy. (She has always loved Kathy). She paced and fret because Don was late getting home, and then went with him to do chores. It was like magic - our dog was back. She goes back tomorrow to get the staples out if we think shes ready. I think SHE thinks she is. But she still hates her sporty blue coat.

Back to the lambs - the noon check today found a set of twins. White, but up and running. I put them in a jug with their mother, since 3 other ewes were trying to claim them. Maybe there will be more later today.

But at least its starting out to be a good season. Live lambs. Black lambs. And Dolly is back with us.

Monday, March 21, 2011


It didn't happen this year. March 19th has passed, and we had no lambs. For the past several years, the first lamb of the season has arrived on March 19. Never mind when they were due, they managed to arrive on the 19th. We thought we had something going. Apparently not. Instead, this year, it is now the 21st, and we are watching the woolly bellies ever expanding. I have empathy for the poor girls, hearing their grunts and groans, fully understanding how miserable they are. My daughter was 3 weeks overdue, and weighed 11 lbs because of it. Fortunately for humankind, they don't let that happen anymore. So, we begin the waiting game, and hope for larger numbers of lambs, and not just larger lambs.

Meanwhile, last week was eventful, and not in a good way. I was out on a paint job Wed, and shorty after 3:00 my phone rang. It was Don, and I knew it probably wasn't good. The tone of his voice confirmed it. "I have bad news." I somehow knew it was about Dolly.

It was. She had a terrible accident. The crescent shaped gash ran from just behind her elbow to almost the top of her back, with a second tear in between. Don rushed her to the vet, who also labeled it as 'terrible'. He worked for over an hour, sewing her up with uncounted stitches in three layers, and 33 staples to finish it off. She spent the night 'in hospital', and needless to say, I didn't sleep well.

The next morning, with a rock in my gut, I called to check on her. Doc answered the phone, and was upbeat. She was up and moving, eating and drinking, and apparently in good spirits. 'One tough dog' was her newly appointed title.

Don brought her home that afternoon. I heard the familiar click of her toenails as she trotted in to see me. I was surprisingly well prepared for the sight. She looked good, other than the 2 zippers installed in the now hairless side. She even insisted on going out to watch Don do chores. But we soon saw there were problems ahead.

I knew the staples were going to itch. I didn't expect it so soon. The next morning I caught her starting to scratch and worse still, lick the wound. Or rather, to try to. She can't quite reach it. Which meant she was doubling up trying, which bent the flesh, pulling the staples even more. The were coming loose, and i knew we had to do something fast.

Off to the fabric stash. Some measurements, and experience with the sheep covers and clothing design came in handy again. The result was a jacket that covers the wound, has a soft replaceable pad inside, and protects from those nasty back feet toenails. But, being a Border Collie, of course she hates it. I tried to make it better by explaining to her that some working dogs wear coats as uniforms. She decided she could tolerate it. Maybe.

We left her alone for a few hours Sat. afternoon, and when we came home, she greeted us with a happy smile and wagging tail, and the coat thoroughly chewed and lying in the corner like a dead rat. It must have had worked better than I had imagined, because without it for just a short time, she had managed to lick or scratch out a few of the staples. It wasn't too bad, so we let it go. I will call the office today to see if they want or can do anything about it.

Otherwise, she seems to be doing fine. She eats, and moves normally. We don't agree that her new/old place to lay is under the table by Don's chair, as its a little hard to squeeze under. But, being a Border Collie, there's no sense arguing about it. She does spend a lot more time sleeping, but I consider that a good thing. If we say the 's' word (sheep) she's out the door in a flash, even if she tires easily, and is soon ready to go back in, even if chores aren't completely done. So we think shes on the road to recovery, even if it may be a long walk yet.

We still have no idea what or how it happened. We have played CSI, and gone over the whole farm looking for evidence, and found nothing. Vet said there was no indication that it was caused by a bite of another animal. That it was more likely a vertical piece of metal, but that she would have had to be moving at a high rate of speed for anything to cause that kind of damage. We can't find anything that fits, and with rain on the way, we may never know.

We are just grateful to a caring vet who took the time to save her, and even call later to check on her. And, for her. We are now not the only ones who know she is one tough dog.

I know she will soon be enjoying the new lambs, following close at our heels.

Good Dog, Dolly.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Calendar commands it.

I decided earlier today to forgo the pictures I previously planned to post, and include this happy Gal instead. a recent creation, I have grown rather fond of. One of those things I feel compelled to do without any planned use for; no real reason for 'being', yet here she be. She is know by the title of "Knit 'in Pearl". Guess I'm one of those old people still playing with dolls, or one so hard up they have to literally 'make their own friends.

This has always been one of my favorite days. Not a holiday, although it is my favorite (only)son-in-laws birthday - Happy Birthday Chris. It's not that likely to be noted for the weather (cloudy and cold wind today), any historical event (yet, anyway), or any other particular reason. I think i noticed that it was a commanding day when I was in about third grade. Probably part of a joke or something, and I just liked how it sounded - March forth! Very authoritarian. Matter of fact, not to be argued with. Not at all like later dates, like May, (rather questionable), or July, that makes you think of hot days, and lying around, but direct. And, as the years have past, I have come to think we should pay more attention to it.

After all, Spring is a mere 17 days away. We could have the first lamb in 15. What better sign than a new season is about to begin. And there is nothing more promising than spring. The days are already noticeably longer. A few reports have sprung up from the aware (or just anxious) that the crocus are about to emerge. And as fast as the days and weeks fall away, bigger and brighter blooms will soon follow.

So, it is fitting, I think, that we pause for a moment on this day, gather up our winter worn loins and take a symbolic step into a new growing season. I for one, have intentions of tilling and planting and tending new growth in several areas of my life. Some are given - like another grandchild, mileposts for the others. But some are more personal, just for me. I won't even name them, because that would make them more like resolutions, and those are for another time. And, growth is not always outward and seen. I hope I can summon up the persistence and energy it will take. At least I will try.

So I will go now, a scoff at the wind, and build a fire. And stare into the orange red glow of the embers as the daylight fades. And follow the un-intended command of the day, of March 4th.