Jen has written wonderful rural inspired updates on Dreamcatcher. I thought it was time to give an update from the rural impaired member.
I can now use the lawn mower without supervision. Didn’t know how to do that until Jen taught me. I of course can’t fix it but let’s be realistic.
I also am in training for using the tractor-with supervision. There are many things to remember when driving the tractor and we have a check session like they do in the cockpit of a plane before takeoff. I just can’t seem to remember which way the scoop goes when I raise it. That is kind of important. Otherwise one could do a dramatic tumble when the scoop hits the ground. So after I am given instructions I repeat them to myself out loud. It's great fun.
Also, we use the tractor to traverse the 30 acres of undeveloped land in the back which is a worry. Should we burn it? (Well not us of course! Sedation was almost needed when we finally burned the trash pile). Should we hire someone with a giant brush hog? Should we work on pieces at a time with or mini tractor and brush hog? We toss these options around and ask for input from anyone wearing coveralls.
Speaking of anyone wearing coveralls. I have noticed that seldom is the phrase “I don’t know “uttered by these fine rural folks. Often it is because they have refined the fine art of working with what you have. Occasionally, it seems to me that it is culturally unacceptable to use that phrase. It’s a bit like people who won’t ask for directions. I am always relieved when I can verify something they suggest we do with another source but alas that is not always an option. But I do appreciate their willingness to advise us.
I can now catch the horses and groom them do a little ground work training. About 50%of the time I can even put the halters on the right way. (I don’t know why but I am halter and harness impaired.)
Mowing: I do love mowing. I love the smell of the cut grass and wildflowers as they are cut. I love to see the strips of mowed pasture grow as I travel around the pasture or even watch Jen making the rounds. Most of all I love seeing the finished product of a mowed pasture. However, there are dangers lurking in that long grass and vigilance is important if you don’t want to mow say a huge rock.
Gates: I have learned that no matter what you are doing gates must be securely fastened. You must take into account the guardian dogs desire to wander and take his sheep with him or the horses’ belief that that grass on the other side is much more luscious. We recently came back from town to discover that Willie had led 15 sheep to the road in one of these adventures. On their way out they devoured the flower garden we had put in the length of the barn. Nora saved the day but seemed a little confused as she is not supposed to go on the road and here were these sheep out there.
Sheep: Oh these lovely creatures. I do love them. I can almost identify what is good fleece. I know how to shove worming stuff down them, trim their feet and very tentatively gave my first injection of antibiotic. I have learned that if a lamb gets on the other side of the fence it has no clue how to get back and that getting your head stuck in the fence once does not teach you not to do it again-beautiful little Willow. I know the joy of seeing a sheep who hasn’t been well, recovering. And I know the grief of losing lambs before they have had much of a chance at life. And recently I learned the sadness of losing our BFL ram Michael to this horrible heat.
I have also learned that sheep can in fact bite. This seems to apply to the ones who really like you like our bottle lamb Evie and to one of our outstanding fleece wethers Bob. Why I do not know. They do not bite one another.
I have also learned some practical things like never walk out into a pasture with a bucket unless you have a dog with you. Those gentle creatures will bowl you over in a heartbeat to get at food.
I have also learned that any ministrations done to a sheep will involve their peeing and pooping. I understand in stock yards they have a test to measure stress having to do with how much of this occurs. But here at Dreamcatcher they get little scratches on their necks and that special place on their back where you can almost hear them moan. Nevertheless they still pee and poop...usually right where you've cleaned it up and put down fresh bedding.
Hay: Hay is very complicated. It must be dry when it’s cut. Then it must be raked and finally bailed when it is dry. You have any idea how hard it is to hit to hit that narrow target when it rained every other day for months? A field that has the big bales of hay resting on it is so beautiful especially when you have a spectacular sunset to frame it and there is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction to look at those big bales and know the part they will play in feeding the animals in the winter.
Sunsets: Speaking of sunsets-they provide a show almost every evening right before dusk. No two are alike and each is beautiful in its own way. Some are streaks of pink, purple and yellow in the sky, others only lighting up the horizon. It is a time to stop and feel the timelessness of the land and the peace that makes it all so worthwhile.