Spring is sprouting and it is baby animal season! We made a decision not to have our Shetland ewes get bred, and instead to buy a couple more babies to fill out the herd. We are going to the breeder next weekend to look over the lambs and choose two, but I have no criteria on which to base a decision other than that we want females so we don’t have to get them “wethered.” When we got Dot and Cookie, one was deep dark brown and the other a spotted light color. Now, you can barely tell them apart except that Cookie grew small horns.
My Angora Goat, Eddy, has a formidable pair of horns. I have trained him that it is forbidden to butt me or swing his horns at me but it is sometimes so hard for him to hold back, especially when he is in a playful mood. I am a little worried that once we have four sheep, they will stick together and quit orbiting close by Eddy. We decided to bring home a second goat to be his playmate. This time a Pygora goat, which is a cross between a Pygmy and an Angora. Pygoras have the same fine, silky hair as Eddy’s mohair, in fact it might be softer. The hair is called…pygora! I guess that makes sense. More for my spinning, knitting, and weaving.
Here is a picture of Noah, the goat we have chosen. He is a wether, same as Eddy, so there won’t be the characteristic stink of a mature male goat and he won’t get as big or aggressive either. It is my hope that the two goats will become fast friends while the sheep flock together in their own nervous manner. Noah should always be a little smaller than Eddy and his horns were removed early.
My mind is slowly working through the logistics of how to introduce him to the herd, how much to feed the enlarged population, how to distribute the food so no one gets crowded out, and whatever else I can plan for in advance. It will be a trial run for the day we bring home the lambs in late April. I would like to keep the lambs separate for a while and get them used to being handled so they learn to trust me before they get out with the others. I let Dot and Cookie out into the pasture the second day we had them and could not get near them for months. Sheep are so nervous!
In the mean time, we have been gradually preparing the farm for spring. My husband is mowing all the fields and we did a prescribed burn in one quadrant before a day of rain. I love playing with fire! I took down the Christmas lights and unwrapped the protective tarps around the bushes. I also shoveled up pounds and pounds of gravel that the snowplow had scraped off the driveway and did my best to fill the potholes. I’ve raked the flower beds and cut down the clumps of ornamental grass. It is so good to get back out into the sunshine and fresh air.
Before burning the field, I collected about twenty praying mantis cocoons and set them in a jar in the barn out of harm’s way. I don’t know what to do with them, so I’ll just keep an eye on it and set it outside if and when they hatch. Life is all renewed this time of year and it makes me happy.