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Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring lambing has sprung!

Twenty-six and counting. That’s how many lambs have been born in the last two weeks on the Fisher farm. Most have been born in the lambing area, where we had the obviously expectant ewes segregated from the rest of the herd. Some were born out in the pasture, however. Apparently we aren’t very good at telling who is pregnant and who is not. Upon discovering the new lambs in the field, I had to wrap them in a blanket and walk slowly backward to the barn, occasionally unwrapping them so they would bleat and the ewe would follow. I’m getting pretty good at this. It’s in the ewe’s best interest to follow me; if she doesn’t I might have to get the Farmer to strap her to the ATV and bring her in from the pasture. I tell the ewes this and they seem to understand me.
We lost a few lambs in the beginning - strange how the complications and fatalities always seem to happen at the beginning of lambing season. With multiple births you usually end up with at least one lamb with no instinct to thrive and no sense of where the milk is at. Then you have the idiot mother who lies down on her own lamb. That is frustrating. I go through stages of wanting to quit the whole sheep business altogether when that happens. I wake in the middle of the night, anxious to go and check on my lambs.
I’m so glad we decided to lock up the rams until December this year, because spring lambing on the whole is far easier than winter lambing. Next step: keep the rams away from my lambs next winter, so we don’t end up with teen mothers with no maternal instinct next spring.
Our second group of Cree houseguests included a few young boys who were on their spring goose break with their grandparents. The farm was like summer camp to them. The Farmer took the youngest one, Deshawn, out to the barn to help clean up a new lamb. The little guy was taking in all the mess and noise of the farm scene like a trooper until the horse quietly snuck up on him and peeked over his shoulder to see what was going on. From then on Deshawn eyed all the farm animals with suspicion, but it didn’t stop him from enjoying his visit.
We were hoping that our guests would fare better on their hunt this spring than they did last fall. When they were here in November, the sun was shining and the geese were flying high. They got just two geese to bring home with them to Waskaganish.
This year, the first group of hunters bagged 79 geese over a week’s time. The second group got close to 60 in three days of hunting. 40 of those geese were shot in one day. It took close to six hours to pluck all of them. I did not partake in the plucking festivities. The Farmer did, however. He said I missed all of the good storytelling by not joining in.
When the plucking was done, the tired and hungry group staggered into the kitchen, covered in clouds of fluff. I am still finding little tufts of feathers in corners and under furniture. I did my part – I cooked and cleaned and I tended the sheep. Apparently I would not pass muster as a Cree woman, however, because I do not know how to pluck a goose – and I do not wish to be taught.
If you are a farmer with an overabundance of troublesome geese on your property, let me know and I will send some of my Cree friends your way. But I will not be plucking them.

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