Our neighbors are wonderful people. I do not know what we would do without them. And isn’t that what community is all about? We all need each other. The vision for Peaceful Heart Village is people working together to build a dream and their individual dreams.
At the present time my husband and I are being extremely creative in our farming. As mentioned in our previous post, we both still work jobs six hours away from the farm. How do we do this and still run the farm? Well, there are several factors. First of all, we chose Katahdin sheep because they are so self sufficient. Next we added a donkey for protection. She foaled and now we have a second donkey. Last fall we added 3 cows. All of these animals are quite capable of foraging for themselves 5 days a week. But the challege is addressing issues that arise Monday through Friday.
The largest contribution to our success is our wonderful neighbors that love the animals. We couldn’t do this without them. On their daily exercise walks they keep an eye out for problems. Stress relief is another reason that they love to visit the flock. “After a tough day it’s so soothing to visit the animals,” said one. The animals now recognize them and respond to their attentions. Even some of the sheep will approach them unafraid. Sweet Pea is the donkey foal. She is an attention hog because of the generous support from the neighbors. Both donkeys love the carrots and apples they receive.
It is lambing season at the farm. We get reports every day or two from one or another of our neighbors. They report both the good and the bad. It looked like we were off to a really good start this year 8 lambs in one week and then 2 more lambs this past week. Then we got a report that a ewe had died. She had twin lambs just two days earllier. This report came to us on Friday and Scott was already on his way to the farm and only 3 hours away. (I was on my way to Oklahoma. More on that in a later post.)
Scott had two days to try and get these lambs attached to another ewe. Well, that didn’t happen – and we knew that it was unlikely when he started. It can take 2weeks of steady working at it to get a ewe to accept a lamb that she did not birth. And even then there is no guarantee that the ewe will ever accept another lamb. When he called me in Oklahoma and gave me an update we discussed what to do next. Should he continue the attempt to get them attached to the ewe and perhaps the neighbors could let the ewes loose when that was accomplished? That seemed a lot to ask to me. Especially if it did not work. Then what would we do? The alternative was the lambs could be bottle fed. So how could we accomplisht that?
Farmer Scott is one of the most creative people I know. I suggested that we use the cage that we had built for transporting sheep before we had the livestock trailer to bring them to the job site with us. It fits in the back of the truck. Well, Mr. Creativity ran with that. He quickly built what looks like a small shed simlar to that other cage and loaded it up on the truck. This one can be unloaded in pieces and assembled to stay at another location. They would be protected from the wind during the trip. He packed it with hay and loaded the lambs in the back.
We are feeding them four to five times per day and they are getting stronger. Folks on the job are enjoying them as well. They are quite a novelty out there in the parking lot. When we return to the farm on Friday they will be glad to get out and run around. I just got a report from a co-worker who took a walk to the parking lot. They are “bouncing” and “jumping”. I hope to include a video of lambs jumping at some point. It is one of the cutest things you will ever see. They jump straight up in the air.
Let me refocus on the purpose of the post. Yesterday we got three lamb update calls. The first call informed us that we had a set of triplets. The second report was the triplets plus twins plus a single – Six new lambs. The last call reported that we have seven new lambs.
We appreciate our neighbors very much but also know that we are responsible for these animals. So far only one incident but we know there can be others. We are at the point where we must take time off in the spring for lambing. Scott will stay at the farm this week and I will stay at the farm the following week. Once we get past lambing season they will again become self-sufficient with basic maintenance care accomplished on the weekends.
Though the peaceful relief from stress is a great benefit, I continually muse over what I can give back to my neighbors who are so generous with their time, love and attention. Please post comments with suggestions.