Bitten & Smitten

On Saturday, we took a ride over to Dancing Lamb Farm in New York to pick up our three new girls. Mike Kelley gave us a wonderful tour of her dairy operation, and since I need an article for the next ISBONA newsletter, I’m going to save all of those pictures and words for that article. Her place is awesome, though. She’s the third Icelandic breeder that we’ve met in a week, and since I too want a dairy, I am thrilled to have visited her. I am going to make time to visit her as often as I can over the coming season, to soak up everything I can learn from her.

DSC02886So who I am smitten with more? It is so hard to say. My new girls are absolute dolls. I am very nervous of new sheep to this farm, because of the holy hell that was our introduction to having sheep out when we got the Shetlands. I made sure to get everyone knowing the Red Scoop of Joy, plus treats. Mommy brings the yummies. They were nervous about the llamas, and the dog, but man do cookies make the whole world okay.

DSC02839 The puppy remains the cutest dog in all the world. He is unbelievably easy. We’ve had him for four days, and haven’t had a housebreaking accident yet. (knock on wood) It took me one day to teach him to fetch. He’s just an absolute joy. I’ve been tiring him out by taking him on long walks, and whenever either of us does anything outside, we take him with us. He loves being outside, loves the snow, and is just awesome. I had an orientation for puppy kindergarten on Sunday, and his first class is next week.

DSC02866 We are trying to encourage the chickens to test the grounds outside their coop. We left the door open for a while, but while they poked their noses out, no one ventured out onto the snow. We are making sure to bring them greens and yummies when we go out in the morning, so that they took get as spoiled as everyone else on this farm. We got three eggs today, in a make-shift nesting box in the hay under their perches rather than the boxes. We left one egg in the boxes to see if we can convince them to lay where we want them too. This afternoon, Frank took the puppy out with him when he went to check on everyone’s water, and said that Byarki chased one of the hens out into the yard. That’s one way to do it! He got scolded, and the hen pecked madly at all of the random crap around the coop. Maybe she’ll spread the word, and tomorrow we’ll have more out. It is so cool to hear the morning “cock a doodle doo!” when we do chores.

DSC02874 I was really unsure of where to put the new girls, what to do with George/Bill/Buster. Frank’s idea was to put George and Bill in the pen where Buster had been all alone, and put Buster in with the llamas, and the new girls there. That has worked out pretty well. We put George and Bill in first, and they immediately started head-bashing with Miguel through the fence line, so we put up a wafer board to block them. Oy. Rams are such a pain to keep. Miguel has now butted me three times this winter. After three years of never having been butted by Sue, Miguel is now definitely on probation. I so wanted a moorit ram, so I could have moorit all through my flock, but personality is more important than color. Dude, figure it out or you will be sausage soon.

DSC01647.JPG When I was getting into the grain bucket in the hoop house this morning, I stepped right at the entrance to reach in, and was bitten really hard on my right foot. It didn’t break through my Wellies, but hurt, a lot. We are trying to figure out what it could be. My first thought was a snake, but I have snake issues, and Frank says it is still too cold for them to be waking up. The floor there is only 4 inches high, though, and I distinctly felt pain on top and on bottom of my foot. A rat? A weasel? Whatever it is, it can harm the chickens, so we need to figure it out.

2 thoughts on “Bitten & Smitten”

  1. Oh, when I followed the link for Holy Hell, I had to laugh – we had a “sheep chasing” day soon after our first Shetland arrived, so I could definitely relate.

    We have also trained our sheep to revere the Red Scoop of Joy – but we have bolstered our defenses with the Raisin Bag of Ecstasy. (Large bag of raisins available from the bulk store) The plus to the RBE is that when I need to gather the sheep in a hurry, they don’t have to be able to see the RSJ, but I can simply rattle the RBE, and they come running. In fact they are so in tune with the RBE, that if I simply move it while I’m in the barn, or brush up against it when I am doing chores, every ear becomes alert, and every eye is on me. I think the RBE gives me greater distance as a shepherd, especially since we like to let the sheep mow the lawn free-range on nice days if we are out in the yard with them.

  2. Raisins! What a great idea. I sometimes give them handfuls of sunflower seeds as well, but only if they’ve got someplace clean to eat it because they look a lot like sheep poop!

    I’ve been known to scoop up some gravel in the scoop and rattle that, heh. The sheep don’t know it isn’t grain!


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