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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bouncing lambs a rite of spring

All you have to do is look out my back window and you’ll know why this season is called “spring”. The handful of lambs that were deemed old enough to be released from the barn are bouncing down the field after their mothers. The little males face each other, synchronize their leaps and butt heads together, sometimes mid-air. If there is a boulder, a stone fence or a pile of old lumber, it shall be climbed. King of the Castle is one of their favourite games. We were waking up to the song of spring birds up until a few days ago. Now it’s the song of spring lambs.
Sometimes when they are released from the barn the little families become separated. If the mother isn’t the most caring type, she will wander off to fill her belly with fresh green grass, happy to be out of the lambing pen, and her lamb will be left behind. Yesterday I saw four lambs attempting to nurse under one ewe. She just stood there, trying to keep her balance as they bucked and prodded beneath her. As she locked eyes with me her expression said, “I thought I had two…?”
The daffodils I planted near the mailbox at the road bounced right back after that flash snowfall we had. They are very hearty little blooms. This fall I’m going to plant a couple dozen more of those. There’s something about seeing that little explosion of colour at the edge of an otherwise dreary landscape when the grass hasn’t quite greened up.
The Farmer cut the grass for the first time yesterday and I noticed he decided not to knock down my daffodils just yet, thank you.
In the perennial beds, the pansies, wild violets and rainbow of tulips are in full show. The hosta leaves are up about six inches and ready to unfurl. Sedum is poking through the soil and the invasive bee balm has spread to cover three times as much area as it claimed last year. Flower gardening isn’t as much about planting as it is about weeding and mulching around here—and occasionally moving a plant to a happier place when it isn’t doing well.
Speaking of which…the three twigs of Rose of Sharon that I bought through mail order are not looking very impressive at the moment. Last year they just got a few leaves and this year they don’t seem to be doing anything at all except looking like art installations beside the bird feeder. The Sharon I bought at half the price from Canadian Tire is actually doing much better than the special-order variety. Lesson learned.
Today we will go into the lambing room and graduate a few more lambs to freedom. They will squeal as I chase and catch them and carry them out the door. Once placed on the ground they will run around in circles, knocking into each other and panicking for a few moments. Happily embracing freedom, their mothers will head purposefully in the direction of the open pasture. The lambs will fall into line and follow, commenting all the while on the lovely surprise of the situation.
The Farmer is tackling a few ewes at a time and giving them their spring haircuts before they are released. They also get examined all over for any random injuries and their hooves are neatly trimmed. After weeks of being locked up in the confines of the lambing pens it must feel like going to the spa.
Our farming tenant has spent a few days preparing the back fields and they will be planted soon. My Farmer is busily mending fences so that our sheep are not constantly in the crops when they start to grow. Already I see the herd walking the line of the new fencing, looking for gaps and opportunities. Soon all of the sheep will be outside and our work in the barn will be pretty much done for the season.
Next, we prepare the chicken coop and bed down the lambing pens with hay for the turkeys. And then the baby chicks arrive. We have to ensure there are no cracks big enough for a skunk or raccoon to squeeze through, or we will lose our entire poultry investment.
There is always something going on to keep us busy and to give us a sense of purpose on the farm.

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