September has arrived and, although the daytime temperatures still border on abysmal, the mornings and evenings feel, dare I say it, pleasant. While I was in Colorado with my mother pretending to be Scottish, the first hint of fall fell over the valley. During morning farm chores, cool air washes over me, causes me to pause and stare and once again appreciate my surroundings. Like carnival Ring-the-Bell Strikers, when the hammer/temperature goes down, the bell rings/my mood lightens. The promise of autumn is a happy one. Leave the awful summer behind, look toward outdoor pursuits; re-familiarize myself with the farm animals. Oh, and make some tough decisions.
As I said in my last post, we have a dozen Shetland Sheep, Leroy, Charlotte, Darby, Finnegan, Fiona, Seamus, Cookie, Madeline, Sean, Katie, Carmela, and Mick. I love every one of them like my own children; I’m weird that way (well in many ways but for now let’s focus on just this one). Put an animal in front of me and, within five minutes, I’m typically ready to bring it home. When lambs are born right in front of me, I’m smitten for life.
Then reality steps in and bites me squarely on the ass. Hay costs a lot of money, in fact 30% more than it did when we first began our farmy pursuits. Add the occasional vet visits, such as the ram lambs’ recent visits to Dr. Samuelson for castration, and this little hobby, our wee Rancho Laurena becomes expensive. Pretend farms are not run with pretend money (too bad because we have at least three Monopoly games that rarely get played) and our bank account is showing the strain of it all.
Steeling my emotions and doing my best to staunch my bleeding heart, I decided it was time to get rid of some sheep. Leroy at the least would have to go. Though now castrated and no longer emulating his title (ram), he never offered us anything but his fleece, no affectionate rubs, no cute personality, no nothing. Yup, we’ll get rid of Leroy; we’ll call it culling like the real farmers do. Sure, that’s what we’ll do.
And then Leroy decided to do this. It was like he read my mind and wanted to prove his worth to me.
Just like Maddy and Charlotte and the rest of the cuddlers, I can be a love. Let me show you. Every time you walk outside.
Who else? Charlotte? Don't even think about it. Darby? No, I went elbow-deep in a uterus for him. Fiona? No, she is Seamus’ mother and has fleece to die for. And Seamus is a huge no way, he’s a non-fading black and he’s polled. Plus, he has the sweetest face and disposition.
Let’s look at Cookie’s line. Not Cookie herself of course, along with Charlotte, she was one of the original two. We can’t get rid of the dynamic duo. Shall we consider her offspring? Her first born was Madeline, arguably the sweetest, most affectionate sheep to walk the Earth. She’s not going anywhere. This year, Cookie gave birth to Sean and Katie who both inherited their mother and big sister’s loving disposition. I don’t want them to leave and neither does HH.
Who does that leave? Mick and Finnegan. If we get rid of Mick, I’m reasonably sure Carmela would have a nervous breakdown. Even though he is five months old and mostly weaned, Carmela still stomps her rear hooves whenever anyone approaches him and he, in turn, is Momma’s boy. They love each other. Plus, he’s damned good looking with wide-set horns, a handsome face, and a fleece of deep mahogany that shows no signs of fading.
So that leaves Finnegan of the strange horn. He cracked it one day and ever since it has grown like a corkscrew. His other horn is in danger of growing into his head and Dr. Samuelson did in fact trim it at the same time he castrated him. His fleece is soft and nice, a medium brown which, at close inspection is not fading as of yet, it has the look of fleeces that eventually becoming an oatmeal color, still pretty but unexciting. By all measures of sheep quality, he’s the one we should get rid of but it seems kind of silly to eliminate just one. We have a nice even dozen after all.
Perhaps a job hunt is in order. After all, I have nothing else to do with my time other than caring for a family of six plus a farm of 37 animals, four dogs, and two cats. There’s cooking, cleaning, writing, and living out my fantasy of beating the Guinness World Record for most laundry done in a lifetime.
Do you think “Will Work for Hay” is a compelling cardboard sign?