Valentine’s Day Blizzard

On Tuesday, we went out to stock up on groceries and stuff, along with the rest of the state, of course. When we got back, there was yet another sheep break-out, which is really frustrating. I think what happened is Bill and George, who are in with the llamas, worked open their gate, which doesn’t close properly, and then started fighting through the cattle panel with Sue. They knocked that corner off the post, and it had been nailed down with eight big staples, so that was pretty impressive. Both Sue and George had bloody heads, but all were cheerful by the time we got home. Brats.

DSC02153The llamas were nowhere to be seen, though, and didn’t come even after we’d gotten all the sheep resorted. We know that sometimes they will head down Mack Hill, because the horses they love so much pass by and go down that trail, so Frank went to see if he could see footprints, and sure enough, they were down there. They were only about a hundred feet down the road, and there were sheep hoof prints down there too, so evidently the whole herd headed that way for a bit. The rattle rattle of the grain bucket got them running back to us. Oh, were they affectionate, nuzzling all over. It was really easy to get them back in their pen, and since it was only hours before the blizzard hit, I was so relieved. I was not looking forward to looking for llamas in a major snow storm.

While we were in town, I picked up some diatomaceous earth and some kelp from Agway, to add to the critters’ mineral mix. The DE is supposed to help keep down the parasites in the critters, and the kelp is just supposed to give them lots of minerals and vitamins that you can’t get anywhere else, and is just otherwise good for them. I’ve been seeing lots of other shepherds using it (like the Small Meadow Farm folks), so it’s worth a shot. We have a serious worm problem here. The DE is also supposed to help get rid of Lily Beetles, THANK GOD, and kelp is also a soil amendment, so I have high hopes for both of these. I added a little dried molasses to the mix to keep it palatable for the girls, all happily growing lambs, we hope. They seem to like the new mix as much as the other, so here’s hoping.

DSC02223 The storm itself wasn’t too bad, actually. It sure is different to go through one with critters, though. Instead of bundling up inside and just waiting for it to pass while sipping hot chocolate, we wanted to keep paths open to each pen, so we went out during the storm four or five times to shovel snow and check on everyone. It was so cold and windy, with actual temps near zero and 40mph winds that I gave everyone a little extra grain in the afternoon to help them generate a little more heat. The only ones I’m really worried about are the llamas. The sheep all hail from Iceland, so no big deal, but llamas are South American critters, so I worry.

Sheep shelter Icelandic ewes One thing I noticed on our first feed in the morning is that Buster was not in his pen with Leon. I went to check in their shelter to see if he was in there, but instead found where he’d gotten into the pen from a place we’d previously patched that Minx had opened up. Sigh. The ease with which these guys bash metal cattle panels is amazing. Miguel didn’t seem to mind him in there, and everyone is settled, so for now, we are just checking to make sure that he’s going to be okay. It is awfully cute to watch him cuddle up with his sister again. If that pen stays peaceful, I think we’ll move Leon into Sue’s pen, getting us down to three pens, which sure would be nice.

Shoveled pathwayIt’s hard to tell how much snow we actually got, because there are snow drifts everywhere from the driving wind. I’d guess probably 15-16 inches, based on what I had to shovel out this morning from the paths. I’m really glad we’d kept them as clear as we did, as it only took me probably 30 minutes this morning to get them all pretty and clear again. This is the first time that we started thinking about using a snow blower instead of a shovel. All I kept open was one shovel’s width, and that would have been perfect with even one of those small snow blowers. I think we have one somewhere, actually, that we got for the deck and never used because it was electric. Time to go see if we can find it again.

Meanwhile, as the wind is still howling, I’ve been baking and spinning up the last of the llama fleece. Frank’s chainsaw is fixed, so we hope to have that for the weekend, when we plan to cut down some more trees and crank up the sawmill again. We have less than two weeks before we leave to go pick up the chickens, and they need a place to live when we get back.

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