Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Spooky Doesn't Even Begin To Cover It!

I was sitting out in the field with the sheep a couple weeks ago and "the little darlin'" wandered over to bite and punch me say hi.  It looked like she had some dirt stuck to her knee, but when I tried to pick it off it wouldn't come.  I looked closer and..."WHAT THE BLEEP IS THAT?!?"

Normally sitting out in the field is a pleasant, relaxing way to end the day.  The sheep are grazing, birds are settling in for the night, Hank (June wasn't here yet) sitting on the hill nearby...and Maisie has two horns growing from her knee.
Of course she does.

I'm going to place the accompanying picture down screen a bit so in case you don't want to see it... ;-)

This is a keratoacanthoma and apparently nothing to worry about...
Except it's Maisie...
And it sure looks like two horns...
Two devil horns?!?


Monday, October 30, 2017

2017 Hug A Sheep Day Party - Part Two

Biscuit was happy to duck out of the gate and come into the barn with me. Muffin and Mrs. Pepperpot weren't so sure and held back.  Kate escorted us down the aisle and then we went back to get Muffin and Mrs. P.

"I should be bringing that sheep in by myself, but that stupid bottle lamb would only do what I told him if...well he never does what I tell him (grumble grumble)"

"Ha ha he won't even do what his mom tells him to do and is over there stealing hay when he could be eating cookies like me.  Surely she's got something better than apples?"

"Hey, that's not a cookie.  We are supposed to get treats, not tricks!"

"It's an apple, Woody.  Try it.  You'll like it!"

He did...and he did ;-).

With Kate's help, Mrs. Pepperpot and Muffin came on in, too.  Mrs. P was initially a little overwhelmed by having so many strangers around and asked to be excused, but I told her she should give it a chance.  Muffin took a minute to figure things out too, but then Look Out, we have a new Hug a Sheep star!

Hug a Sheep or Mug a Person...either way works ;-).

"I'll mug anybody!"

And with his big sister at his side, Biscuit was happy to mug everyone, too ;-).  We are looking at how black Muffin's fleece is under the sunbleached outer layer.

And how soft and silky Biscuit's lamb fleece is going to be next spring :-).

Trying for a family portrait.

And by the end, even Mrs. Pepperpot was all in on the mugging and even looks a bit cranky that Chocula has monopolized their latest "victim" ;-).  

All photos by Auset Images

2017 Hug A Sheep Day Party - Part One

We almost cancelled the party this year. Every day for a week the forecast looked worse and worse and by Wednesday/Thursday/Friday it was calling for 45 degrees and 90% chance of rain.  Rain is not fun.  Cold is not fun.  Cold and rain?  No one would want to come out in that :-(.  

Turns our we were all wrong!  One of Saint Tim's big sayings is 90% of the things you worry about happen 10% of the time.  There was a 10% chance it wouldn't rain and it didn't!  And the sun even popped out for a little while.  And as the afternoon went on, we had about 50 sheep huggers...and cookie feeders ;-).

Amy (Auset Images) came down from Indianapolis and took a ton of pictures for us.  Thankfully.  Not only because I never pulled my camera out, but also because she always gets such fun pictures.  The best part is you never even notice she's doing it.  She also sees shots I'd never notice.  Very fun and a great eye.

Woody and Murphy: "Now that's what I'm talking about!  Wait...are those cookies low fat?  What are you saying, lady!"

Buddy never fails to crack me up.  He is licking the bag of treats ;-D. 

As usual, Ewen preferred to just stand next to me while Liddy worked the crowd.  Boy bottle lambs... ;-)

We rotated sheep in and out of the "hugging pen", but even the sheep not in the pen were able to get plenty of attention...and cookies.


Chocula and Woody showing how it's really done.  "You've got to climb up on the door!"

Liddy trying to mind meld "Look at the cookies.  You know you want to give me one."

Tabitha made several attempts at being brave enough to come up for treats.  I was surprised that Tavia never came around.  She's usually the friendliest of the Ts.  

Dear old Annabelly was the only Jacob who got duped into volunteered to come out in the hugging pen.

Woody worked the crowd from inside the stall to the hugging pen to the field to the back of the barn to the hugging pen back to the stall and then the field and...

Next up - Biscuit, Muffin and Mrs. Pepperpot :-D.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Wethers Outside Are Delightful...

...but the weather forecast is looking mighty frightful :-o.  And last year it was so hot we had to turn all the sheep back out early to get them out of the sun.  Sigh...

The Hug a Sheep Day Open Farm Party is still on!  We are going to move everything indoors out of the wind and any residual rain.  Saint Tim's weather app says the rain should be done by noon.  Not that cloudy and 45 is much better than raining and 45, but at least we can say "Could be worse.  Could be raining."  Go ahead and click the link.  You know you want to :-D.

"Will you still come and feed me cookies?"

Yes, Woody, I think the real sheep lovers will still come and feed you cookies.  And they'll be nice and warm because they'll be WEARING WOOL!  And warming up around the fireplace in the Wool House or next to Uncle Phillip's big barn heater.  And drinking hot cider and eating some special cookies Auntie Reg is making.  It will still be a fun party :-).

If you need directions or have any questions, just drop me an email.  Hope to see you this Saturday!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Not A Saint But Close

Here is a video from this evening.  The Sheep Chicken was already on Clover Belly's back and Clover Belly was already positioned over by the ledge when I saw them and started the camera.  Petunia comes over to help and then Ewen McTeagle.  Petunia leaves for a few seconds to go yell at June, who you can see calmly walking through not deserving anyone stamping their foot at them, Petunia!

The chicken knows Clover Belly is too short, which is why she moved to Ewen, but Ewen wouldn't move over to the ledge so she finally gave up and used Petunia, who'd come back to help, to get back to Clover Belly and she makes the jump...which was an "epic fail".  She then jumped back up on Rebecca Boone, who is only marginally taller, and I picked her up and set her on the ledge.

The black and white hen, most famous for sitting in the Wool House with me and Tilly this summer, has also decided she wants to sleep on the ledge, but she's an ungrateful guest and picks on The Sheep Chicken if you try to set them both up there.  That's not fair so we built her her own private shelf.

Speaking of sheep yelling at June for no reason, that's why Clover Belly is Not Quite A Saint.  I have no idea why she hates her so much, but she's given June some charges that are very ungrateful.  I'm not sure what to do about that.  I keep hoping they'll work out a truce, but Clover Belly has her buffaloed and June doesn't have Kate's "I give you permission to punch that bad sheep back" button.



I could also add a story about the stupid corgi, but it's late...

Aren't you looking forward to spending the afternoon with everyone this Saturday?  ;-).

Monday, October 23, 2017

Well It Wasn't An EPIC Fail...

...but if I have to keep explaining that it's two cute sheep, Biscuit and Muffin, eating a pumpkin and NOT a skull...  

By the way, that's Stella in the background wearing a bats in the belfry headpiece, courtesy of Auntie Reg ;-D.

It was another great Pumpkin Party.  This is really a highlight of the year for sure.  The amount of work it takes to put on a party of this size and cook all that good food and set up all the tables and chairs and bring in all the pumpkins and have carving tools and buckets for everyone to share and a big tobacco wagon to display them all and candles to light them...  We have awesome neighbors!

It's a little less scary in the daylight, or porch light.  And now that you know the bottom is a pumpkin and Not Teeth, it totally looks like Biscuit and Muffin...right?

Shirley won the calendar drawing :-D.  I don't think I have your address, so if you could drop me an email I'll get it sent out right away.  And I'm hoping to get the farm shop updated today so if anyone else would like a calendar...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

She's Baaa-aack

After the sheep were shorn back in the spring, the Sheep Chicken had to stop sleeping on her ledge.  She couldn't get enough traction on the slick sheep backs to make her jumps.  About the time their wool started growing back to an acceptable length, the days got long and hot and the sheep stayed out grazing in the evenings, well past the time when she wanted to go to bed.  

She slept in the coop all long summer.  A week or so ago I noticed she was back on her platform perch.  I caught an occasional picture of her on various sheep's backs, jumping for her ledge, but hadn't had time to post them and then forgot. 

Two nights (or I should say late afternoons - chickens go to bed early!) ago short little Clover Belly followed a couple of the older sheep in hoping for an evening snack.  She didn't get one, but poked around the stalls for a bit looking for anything that might have dropped.

She was standing at the doorway between the inside and outside stalls (the right side of the picture) when the chicken hopped aboard.  She stood there for a couple seconds and then walked straight over to the ledge and the chicken jumped on up.  If you look closely you can see her next to the fan on the back wall. 

Sometimes I just "live in the moment" and watch what goes on without recording it.  Sunrises and sunsets are always better in real life and should sometimes just be enjoyed.  Bees working flowers...well, they are good either way.  A chicken and sheep so deliberately working together, especially one I've never seen helping the chicken before?  I wish I'd turned on the video camera.

*     *     *   In other news  *     *     *

Hank and June are now best friends.  Other than taking a walk yesterday where she shouldn't have, June is doing really, really well.  I'm putting up some more fencing today to hopefully stop her from future exploration missions.  If the Adventure Chickens figure out they could ride her to town... :-o

Cecil Aguilar's been back and made something extra special for us.  I'm telling you, drystone work is like tattoos.  Once you start you can't stop.  I of course took lots of pictures including a very cool one with Eli, who is trying really hard to make the calendar next year.  I'd say things are looking good for him ;-).

Tonight is the big neighborhood Pumpkin Carving Party.  I had planned to try to do a special felted pumpkin to carve, but...I'm now spending my day putting up fence :-/.  At least I can think about my real pumpkin design while I work.  I'm guessing it will be a Biscuit and Muffin design.  Stay tuned!

I don't know how it could possibly be almost the end of October, but it is and next Saturday is National Hug a Sheep Day :-D.  We are once again hosting a farm party to celebrate and would love if everyone could come!  Needless to say if I can't find time to post blog pictures, I probably haven't had time to work on the teleporter either, but June is all about some cookies as are Biscuit and Muffin and Mrs. Pepperpot and everyone else.  It will be a fun afternoon if you can make it :-D.

*     *     *   One more thing   *     *     *

When I was looking for a link for the words "Sheep Chicken" above, I found the post about Baby Belly and Spud helping last year.  I'd forgotten that had been Baby Belly.  Clover Belly is Baby Belly's daughter.  While Muffin may have ditched me and Mrs. Pepperpot, Clover Belly stayed very close to her momma her whole life.  We lost Baby Belly last week.

I am quite sure we don't have even an ounce of understanding about what goes on between animals, especially animals in a close family.  I was amazed that a sheep who I had thought had no previous experience with the chicken routine was helping out.  Now I'm extra amazed.  Remember Tilly stepping up after Iris died?  Something else to ponder while I'm stringing fence today.

SO, as I did with the long post about Tilly, let's see who made it to the end of this epistle.  Leave me a comment saying which sheep you'd love to hug most and I'll have 20 draw for a winner at the end of the weekend.  There's a 2018 Farm Calendar in it for the winner :-).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Well, It's Not Just Me

I think I've mentioned how all the girl bottle lambs move out of the house and out to the barn and immediately forget they ever loved and needed you more than anything in the world.  The boys?  They never completely grow up.  

I've tried to tell myself that I just raise strong girls who are ready for the real world and hit the ground running.  I do think that's a fair assessment, but I raise the boys the same though and I am having to stand next to Biscuit while he eats now (without the creep feeder) so he feels confident and stays focused ;-).

I peeked around the corner of the barn at lunchtime and saw Biscuit and Mrs. Pepperpot side by side and assumed Muffin was just a little further around the corner...

...or halfway done the barn (!).  That's her next to Bullwinkle at the end of the blue gate, sassily chewing cud with her back to her long suffering momma.  

Poor Mrs. Pepperpot. At least she still has Biscuit.  Those boys won't let you down ;-).

Monday, October 16, 2017

The First Official Meet And Greet

There had been an accidental meet and greet a couple months ago when I'd not latched a gate all the way and the two lambs gleefully bounced out into the big flock with Mrs. Pepperpot having a stroke racing along behind them trying to fight anyone daring to get close to Muffin.  The "official" meet and greet went much smoother.  

As I'd mentioned before, Muffin just marched on out into the main flock like she'd been there all along.  Mrs. Pepperpot still wasn't thrilled, but there was no stopping her bold baby.

Biscuit was a bit more backward reserved, but B. Willard, who'd been a bottle lamb many years ago, helped him feel welcome.

Mrs. Pepperpot finally caught up with Muffin and then gathered Biscuit to get them both to "safety".

"I'm coming.  Waaait!"

But not far enough away.  Here comes Tara.

"Don't get in a punching match with a sheep with horns, Biscuit."

"Uh oh, I can't believe he did that.  I'm probably going to have to go break this up. That boy will never grow up."

She didn't.  Everyone got along fine.  It was getting late when I finally was able to let them out (the night before June came) so we only stayed out for a little while and then the three came back out for dinner and bed.  I have one more group of pictures to share and then we should be almost sort of caught up.  For now.  

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Happier Hank

"What's the matter, Hank?"  

"Everything.  I need a tummy rub."

"Sorry Miss June, but it's Hank's turn."

"Can you believe that?  That guy is so mean, talking to that other dog and not me."

"This place is (yawn) terrible."

Hank loves everyone, but he especially loves Saint Tim :-).  

Just making sure June knows he's getting all the attention.  June's not losing any sleep over it ;-).

"I think I need some more tummy rubbing."

And that's why Saint Tim is his favorite ;-).

Before you feel too sorry for June, she'd already had a turn ;-).

Flock dogs are endlessly fascinating.  While many people have seen border collies working, herding sheep under direction of a shepherd, the only way you could get a taste of how livestock guardian dogs work would be to live with them.  I love the teams of guardian dogs at The Training Center and Final Frontier Farm.

The first night June was here we heard Hank and June barking together out back.  When the coyotes started calling last night I woke hearing June barking in the side field, up near the road.  Hank was barking out back.  They'd divided up and put the sheep, in the barn, between them.  Teamwork!

In the past Hank would have had to work the back AND the front.  It's not like this is big open range, but that's still a big job traveling back and forth.  This morning when I walked out to let the chickens out I quietly peeked around the back of the barn.  Both dogs were sound asleep together in the barn lot about 25 feet apart :-).  

I did morning chores about an hour later and Hank seemed much happier this morning.  He finally allowed himself to slip out the gate to make his normal yard check and then a big loop out back and I think that helped as well.  We've had everyone closed into the arena, barn lot and side field so we can keep a close eye on everything for a few days.  

I think life is starting to settle back down.  For everyone.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Meet June

While it seems impossible that Hank is nine...even though it also seems like he's been here forever...Hank is nine...and it's time to think about bringing along the next generation of farm security.  

I was hoping to wait another year or twelve, but the point was made that it would be best to do this before Hank got too old and then a situation presented itself that seemed like a gift from the dog gods and, well, meet June.

June is a 6 1/2 month old Anatolian Shepherd.

She loves sheep.

Even, I think, our Very Opinionated Sheep.

This afternoon.

Checking in with Hank.

I've had several questions about how Maisie likes her.  You can tell by her face that she is not a big fan.  I was surprised by that as she loves Hank.  She might come around...but it might take some time, sort of like cookie eating* ;-).

I'm honestly not really sure how Hank feels about her.  In the beginning I think he was excited to have some company, but he was also a little concerned about her around his sheep and watched her pretty intently all day.  Today he didn't worry about her much at all, but did seem maybe a little miffed that she was still here.  

She's very good around the sheep so I think that's reassured him safety-wise.  We've tried to make sure he knows he's still very special and loved and he and Saint Tim had a big tummy rub session this evening and that cheered him up quite a bit.   He's run this farm by himself for almost nine years.  Change is hard.  But change is frequently good.  Right, Maisie?  ;-)

*Maisie has refused to eat cookies her whole life (almost five years) and just when I was thinking I needed to get a video of her torpedo-ing a cooking out of her mouth...she decided to prove me wrong and start eating them.  She probably still hates cookies, but thinks that's funny.    


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