Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dolly is a Mother

I ventured out to the barn after sleeping scandalously late for a shepherd - almost to 8 o'clock. I didn't do it purposely. My internal alarm clock that I can usually rely on, didn't go off. Maybe it was the whiskey and egg nog, maybe it was the turkey, maybe it was the fact that I was up at 3 am, I don't know. I have to get the dogs out to pee before I can go out to the outer barn. The rain washed away enough of the ice that I can step from patch of green to patch of mud without slipping when they pull me. I keep telling myself that I don't need dogs who run away, but when they do run away I miss them so much that I put up with walking them on leashes. I put them away in the apartment and went into the sheep area and listened. I heard the sounds of a mother, muttering and gently baaing to a baby, with the tiny baby trilling baas answering her. There they were, Dolly and a fine ewe lamb, standing up and poking around underneath for a teat - always a good sign to a shepherd. They were under the rabbit cages, not too far from a pen. I got Dolly from a petting zoo in Bainbridge, Frog Pond Farm, where my student talked me into coming to buy some pigs. He was determined to sell me a sheep, too, and I wanted him to feel successful. The last thing I needed was a sheep from a petting zoo, where no one could tell me anything about her - no age, no origin. Somebody dropped her off with other random unwanted animals. When I saw Dolly I changed my mind. She's a big, handsome, friendly Romney/Corriedale cross, my shearer, Jim Baldwin, thinks. The chickens like to ride around on her big, wide back to keep their feet warm. Dolly is a good case for tail docking, as she has a long, thick, gooey tail. I am thankful she gave birth when there are no flies, as I would have to watch her carefully for fly strike. Dolly followed me with her lamb into the pen and let me milk her out. Sigh of relief, she has milk. Dolly is earning her keep, not only with her lovely, fine wool, but with this gorgeous little ewe lamb. Happy Post Christmas Sunday morning, everyone.

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