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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Free kitties - but don't touch my lamb!

There is ice to break now on the cow’s water when I go out in the morning. The water in the hoses to the barn froze before we had a chance to shut them all down. Winter is peeking her frosty head around the corner as if she has suddenly remembered Eastern Ontario.

The rams’ hot breath hangs in the air of the lambing pen. They seem agitated. Soon they will have their freedom, and then in approximately 148 days a bunch of lambs will be born. Steve seems like he’s raring to go. He keeps head-butting the feeder when I walk by and put my hand in to pat him on the head. He wants out. But first we have to sort our existing flock of ewes and lambs.

Normally we sell the fat male lambs in the fall. This year I think the Farmer wants to sell most of the lambs, to make way for a change in the herd. We’re weeding out the Dorsets because they are too fluffy. I keep thinking about my little female, whom I did not name, who was born with club feet. I kept her penned with her mother until her feet straightened out, and then someone (likely the Belgian horse) stepped on her and broke her leg. Again she was penned with her mother and splinted until her leg healed. She is still fairly tame, and her mother has always been more like a dog than a sheep. She comes over to get her back scratched, pushing her nose into my hand. I don’t think I can say goodbye to either one of those two.

On sorting day, I will put a ribbon around the necks of that mother and baby so that the Farmer knows who he should not be taking to market. There may be a discussion around that reasoning. But I don’t care. He’s not taking my favourite lamb.

Yes, I know that’s not good farm sense – getting attached to my animals, but here’s the thing: I’m attached to many of them.

We had a tame kitten from the barn who kept coming in the house and I was just working on the Farmer – getting him used to having a pet indoors – when the kitten suddenly disappeared. It was still too young for us to tell what sex it was. We called it Hot Dog (because that was its favourite snack). Months later, our houseguests still ask what happened to that cat.

I can’t afford to fix all of our barn cats, obviously. They are quite prolific and apparently they are also a bit spoiled. I am trying to tame the littlest ones so that they will let me treat them and medicate them when they are sick, and so that maybe they can be turned into nice housecats for someone. I have about half a dozen now, ranging in age from three months to a year that will allow people to pick them up and cuddle them. If you know anyone who wants a nice cat, let me know. I can hook them up.

Soon there will be some other new arrivals on the farm. Mochacinna Latte (Mocha for short) has been co-habitating with Young Angus since last March, so she should be due to calf mid-December. The other two calves we have had born on the farm came without much fanfare or difficulty, so we are hoping this one will be the same story.

As the weather gets colder and the food in the pasture gets scarce, Misty should be coming up to the stable more often. That’s a good thing, because we need to get a good look at her to see if she is also growing a baby belly.

It’s time to put up our first bale of hay, to stuff feed bags in all the barn wall cracks, and to bed down the barn with some straw. Winter’s a-comin’.

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