Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Peepers in February!

January was peaceful, albeit brutally COLD at times;
I met nice spinner-women on many occasions and passed many lovely hours spinning, talking, always learning from them about the projects they're making, the equipment they use, the fibers they spin with. That has been the surprise reward of raising sheep, for me. I began with no desire to spin or felt, and could've finished out my life without weaving again. . . but here I am, surrounded by these gentle, creative (mostly) women, so I began. Their friendship and company is very warming in these wintery months.
When I came home from the Northern Lights Handspinners' retreat on January 20 (my birthday weekend. what a great present!) I learned that one of our hens was broody.
You non-fowl people: broody means the hen wants to "set" (incubate and hatch) some eggs. This is evidenced by said hen sitting stubbornly and exclusively in the nest box on whatever eggs are there, or none, if they've been taken out. We've been through this a half dozen times in our 5 years with chickens, and we almost always let the hens who want to, set eggs.

So see what Emily's favorite hen did? After 20 days of sub zero weather, she's kept a clutch of eggs warm enough to pop 4 little chicks into being! No. 5 is still out there wet and flopped in the straw. I'll see in the morning if he's alright. A few more may follow. (I should add: the hen house has a small propane heater and a wood stove; she didn't do it ALL herself!)

Yes, we've been through this over a half dozen times, but we still get so excited to see the babies, so Emily and I fussed and set up a perfect chick play area, and Howard went out to take baby pictures. This is the first!

My final story of the week: about the lady who called and said our wonderful country vet, Dr. Molnau, told her I might be able to give a home to her 3 shetland sheep who needed one. I told her I didn't really NEED any more sheep, but I am sympathetic to animals who NEED homes, so I asked about their color, age, etc.
It was soon apparent to me that this was a woman I had SOLD these sheep to last June, and she'd forgotten my name! These were pets to her, and now, she told me, her relationship was breaking up and he didn't want any animals left behind!
I really didn't want to bring these sheep back here, as it would mess up my scrapie certification date, upset my ram pen with a new addtion, and I was trying to keep the number of black sheep down. . .
To make a long story short, I went to see them-- and the pony she also needed to place. Partly I just wanted to see, again, the farm where the animals bunked in new, roomy horse stalls in a barn with a chandelier! And the sheep were lovely, soft with the cleanest long wool! I convinced Terri Drimel, another MN shepherd, that they were worthy animals and that I could restore their status to pedigreed-- and she took them home. End of story.
Lucky animals, and everyone is happy.
Have a nice Valentine's Day, everyone! And just remember that spring is right around the corner. ;-)