Spring is here. It is a study in contrasts. Blooming flowers and grey vegetation. Soon it will be all green. But for now, it is both.
A Border collie that is happy to be outside all day, yet appears to stick his tongue out at you.
Sheep that are curious, yet try to hide behind trees.
And a guard llama that appears to be interested in you, until you approach him.
Then he is all attitude and aloofness.
Yes, Spring is like that -- presenting one thing while another thing lies close, underneath the surface.
Soon it will be Summer and just one thing - hot. So we are enjoying each and every day of Spring. Hope you are too.
It's a really busy time at the farm. March has arrived and it has put me in a panic.
Spring is only 18 days away. How the heck did that happen??
We're up to our eyeballs in planting schedules, seed orders and assorted other things.
But there is always time to play with PhotoShop.
I thought you'd like to see a picture of our sheep as they would have appeared during the depression.
Don't they look stoic and tough. Hardscrapple.
But wait, add the color back in and they just look like sheep. Curious. And a little timid.
Do you think the people in all those pictures from the 1930s and 1940s really weren't as hard and tough-as-nails as they appeared? Who knows how we would have thought of those by-gone years if we had the wonders of PhotoShop.
I didn't have the heart to "depression-ize" Joey and the goats.
They are just too full of life and goat antics. Raphael finds it necessary to stand on his stump each and every time I get the camera out. He's such a ham.
And finally, I know I told you I'd show you no rug before its time, but I lied. A touch of insomnia found me up way too early so I thought I'd work on the Sheep in Sunflowers rug.
One sheep - done. Five sunflowers - done. Assorted leaves and stems -- done and done. All that is left to do is hook the background.
I figure one or two more nights of not sleeping and I will have a completed rug.
Some days are perfect sheep days.
Today was one of them. A nice cool temperature -- not too hot, not too cold. No rain. A bit of snow. Not a lot of wind.
Today, we had very happy sheep.
Happy, and perhaps a bit pensive.
We picked up our new sheep yesterday.
Over the course of the two and a half years of starting this farm, we've picked up dozens of animals dozens of times before. It should be fairly routine, just another "chore for the day" type of thing.
But it wasn't. Yesterday . . . well . . . yesterday was a whole lot of fun. Really. It just shouldn't be this fun to load animals into a trailer and then unload them into a pasture. But it was.
It was late afternoon when we came back with our four handsome Romeldale/CVM sheep. Getting them into the trailer was an experience -- similiar to playing tackle football on the frozen tundra, but that's another story. It's the unloading that is the REALLY fun part, and watching the reaction of their fellow That'll Do Farm animals.
Several of the alpacas found it necessary to come running out of the barn to see just who had arrived. Usually that trailer pulling in means somebody new is coming into their alpaca world -- perhaps a handsome male? -- and they wanted to see.
Quintessa wanted to show the newbies her pearly whites. It's always nice to be welcomed to a new place with an engaging smile.
But, alas, they were disappointed. The sheep are going into pastures on the other side of the farm and will not be hanging out with the fetching Quintessa. She said that's the last time she'll give herself a new stick-up hair-do, complete with a hay barrette, for nothing!
So we pulled the trailer up as close as possible to the west pasture gate. The problem was that "close as possible" wasn't very close at all. With our mild winter, the ground isn't frozen and we were afraid the truck and trailer would sink into our water-holding, tire-sucking, Ohio clay. And not come out until Spring.
This is a LONG walk with a 200 pound sheep that has no idea where he is, who we are and has hever had a halter or lead rope on before.
Plus, we had to do it without dogs as the sheep have never been worked with dogs before and we didn't want to scare them. We would lure them the old fashioned way -- with food.
So farmer Mike grabbed some hay and carted it off into their new pasture.
And the sheep wrangling began.
Milo was the first one out of the trailer, and the most most stubborn.
It took four humans pulling, pushing and guiding to get him into the pasture.
But once there, Milo was a model citizen.
His buddies, Dash, Zipper and Spice soon followed and all were happy in their pasture.
Then the fun and games really began.
Joey the llama came over to see what was going on.
Next, the goats came over, mostly behind the protection of their big buddy Joey.
Except for Fred. Fred decided to take the lead on this exploration mission. Which is quite funny since Fred is the most timid of the goats. But not this day. Nope. He was high goat on the totem pole yesterday. Brave, fierce and daring.
Soon we opened the gate to let the goats and llama meet the sheep up close and personal.
The sheep made the first move, slowly walking towards the goats.
The goats, who we thought would be big and tough because of their horns, took about one second to think about it and turned to give way to the sheep.
And then they ran. They couldn't get out of there fast enough. And you'll notice their fierce protector Joey is nowhere to be seen. That's because he was the first guy outta there!
That's right Joey. I'm talkin' about you. Standing over there, about as far away from the sheep as you can get. And using two innocent little goats for protection. Shame, Joey, shame.
Fred stands alone in his bravery.
Joey, seeing how much fortitute and spunk Fred exhibited, decided to get a little closer himself.
That and the fact that Mike had a scoop full of grain and Joey loves his grain.
So closer and closer he came, never turning his back on the sheep . . .
. . . until he was mere feet away.
And then came his posse, at lightning fast speed.
And Joey was able to eat his grain, in relative comfort, with his back to the sheep.
Then dear, sweet Fred, with his lion heart, decided to meet the sheep.
He discussed his findings with Raphael, who, up until yesterday, we thought was leader of the pack.
Raphie discussed it with the others and Donatello took the news to Joey.
The goats have decided the sheep can stay. However, they have warned Joey that he needs to step up his whole guardian of the flock act and take the lead on these matters.
They would hate to have to replace him with a guardian donkey.
We're so excited here at the farm, we could just burst! But since that would be awfully messy, we'll keep it together long enough to tell you the good news: five Romeldale/CVM sheep will call That'll Do Farm home starting this coming weekend.
Here they are -- the men. These big, beautiful guys have been happily living at somebody else's farm for the past four or five years. But their human family is moving to a new home without a barn or pastures, so a new sheep home was in order for these fellows.
All you hand spinners and knitters, get yourselves ready. These are Romeldale/CVMs, with dense, soft fiber in a variety of natural colors.
To quote from the excellent Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, this breed's "wool is consistently soft, long stapled, and uniform as to fiber quality within a single fleece and it does felt. These wools are good selections for next-to-the-skin garments and for knitters who want soft, lofty yarns. They provide a good introduction to fine wools for spinners who may be tentative about working with fine fibers."
Plus, these are nice boys, with winning personalities that enjoy hanging out with their humans.
We'll spend this week getting their home ready for their arrival. We'll tell the goats they will have five new friends. We'll tell Joey the llama his guardian workload just increased by five. We'll check the hay to see if we need to order more. We'll check the fences to make sure they are secure and sheep-proof.
If you're in the area next week, stop on by to say hello to the new sheep on the block. And starting thinking about your next knitting project.