Friday, January 2, 2009

Some Mornings

This morning I finished spinning a bobbin of white Coopworth wool & decided to dye it as a ball & then ply it together. I plopped the ball into a bowl of hot water & headed out to the stable. I filled a saucepan halfway with cranberry dye, added the ball & put the whole thing on to steam. On the way back into the house, I lifted Bart, the crippled sheep, to his feet. I went back into the house & fried two dozen eggs for the pasture dogs. While I waited for my 45 minutes of steaming time to pass, I picked away at some wool I want to spin this evening. We had rain coming in so I noticed it getting grayer as I worked. I decided to head out a little before the 45 minutes were up so that I could feed the dogs before the rain started, kill a little time in the barn & then turn off my dyeing wool.

I poured the two dozen eggs over a bit of dog food, stirred it all up & headed out to find the three pasture dogs. Amy, a huge Anatolian shepherd, is easiest to find as she waits at the corner of the fence each morning. I think she hears me open the door to the house as she is always races to the same spot if it is still early in the day. She sits quietly until she can verify that I am carrying a feed bucket & then wags her tail, hops up & heads to the back of the old barn. Earlier when I'd come out with just a small stainless bowl holding a ball of yarn, she sat & watched me go by. This time she ran to the back door of the old barn where I let her into a stable to eat in peace.

On the way through the barn, I came across Rudy, our OLD Great Pyrennes, sleeping in the corner. Rudy really knows how to sleep & gets lots of practice at it. He has grown deaf in his old age so that it is almost impossible to wake him without touching him - but then he startles so when I do reach down & touch him that it makes me feel bad. At least I had breakfast to offer him. He loves when I cook for him & jealously guards his bowl from the chickens by growling when they come near.

I went on to let Amy into her stall but noticed her regular feed bowl was missing. There was a large bucket overturned in the corner so I figured I'd just be sure that was clean & feed her in that. When I lifted the bucket, a bedraggled hen staggered out. Amy was startled but was also more interested in the food I had for her than the chicken. I quickly fed Amy & grabbed the hen. It was obvious she was not doing too well as most hens are not easily grabbed up. This one was a bit shocky, apparently having spent at least the night under the bucket. Most likely, she'd decided to roost up on the edge of the bucket & managed to flip the thing upside down on herself. We obviously raise the chickens for their egg production, not their high intelligence.

Although I had freed the hen, I didn't dare just put her back in with the rest of the chickens. Chickens are a lot like not-nice people in that they love to pick on the weakest. A chicken that is suffering at all can quickly be pecked to death. Instead, I carried this gal into the stable with me & set her on the floor. I went into the stall where I do my dyeing, turned off the pot & went back out to check on the hen. She was scratching away at the hay to root up little bits of grain. Looks like she'll make it but she can stay in the stable for a few more days.

On the way back from the stable I noticed that Leo, Mary's little orphaned lamb, was still in the exact spot he'd been all morning. It had started to a cold rain &, while sheep don't mind the rain, I certainly would have expected him to be up & about. I put down the bowl I'd carried the yarn to the stable in, walked into the pasture & picked up Leo. He is probably only at about 35 pounds so I slipped him over a shoulder so that I could open gates. I realized what his problem was - he had gotten separated from his regular group of little friends. I carried him through two gates until I got into the backyard where Bart had now wandered to. As soon as Leo saw Bart, he began to squirm in my arms. I set him down, they touched noses & then casually wandered over to the round bale to eat. Mind you, there was a lovely round bale in Leo's other pasture. He just didn't have his regular eating buddy with him. Little pitiful Leo & big crippled Bart are happily reunited so I can get on with my day.

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