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December 2013

Angus McCluskie is the latest arrival on the farm. Oh, perhaps Cordelia, lamb  without a last name came even later. However, Angus’ presence has been felt more strongly than Cordelia’s. For he is a puppy. A Border Collie pup, sold to me over the phone as red and white but in fact is a kind of cocoa colored pup with a perfect white ruff around his neck, and classic marking. I’ve been needing him. Interesting how a new dog can be termed quite easily to be a necessity but a new lamb isn’t. Or usually isn’t. She, however, is. She gave me a lightened heart about this winters lambing, the first arrival and, furthermore, the first lamb ever born in November. She is very pretty. Her mother is the daughter of Brunhilda’s daughter, Horned Dorset formidable. She may be inclined to be antisocial. Her mother has kept a very close watch on her and I haven’t seen them out of the barn. I have finally acquiesced to selling Brunhilda. She is the dominant sheep on the farm. Impossible to get into the barn at night. The trainer of younger sheep in the art of escape. A scaler of stone walls. Frequent visitor at my front porch. Insistent besieger of my front door. The last straw was reached the day before yesterday. I discovered large yellow apples on a tree in the south pasture that has never borne fruit of any consequence before. They were untouched by frost and gave the impression that they would be good keepers. I picked what I could reach and then brought out the apple picker and filled a box with some of the rest. Stacking wood has suddenly become of interest to me, and so before bringing the box into the house I stopped and refined the wood pile for awhile. I have enjoyed the work in the past. A sense of order accompanies the neatly organized process that pleases me. I became so engrossed with the wood that I went into the house with an armful rather than with the box of apples. Welling little Angus first thing in the morning or what seems to be the crack of dawn brought me around woodpile. And there in front of me was the empty box that had held the apples. I had been so delighted with them. Full of anticipation at the thought that they’d be keepers. Gone. All gone. Perhaps there was a touch of merry in the picking when I chose to stop for the evening, leaving some on the tree. And perhaps, just perhaps I will get the remaining ones tomorrow. But one thing has become apparent. Brunhilda must go. One of her attractions has been her offspring. Always singles. A reason some shepherds cull sheep. Usually males. But the argument has been presented to me that in the five years or so that she has been with me a number of her off-spring has enhanced my gene pool. Her ram lambs are the growthiest I have ever seen as lambs, not as adults. Her son Podkins is my replacement from this year’s flock and Doby Fitzgorman is now two and a very Dorsety looking young man. Her daughter, of no permanently affixed name, is the mother of little Cordelia. My shepherd friend is right. She shall go. As soon as possible. If not sooner. And Cordelia, amazingly enough is already sold to a man who is starting a flock. He wanted five lambs this winter. I’d keep them until spring or until they are at least two months old. But Cordelia, although I’m reluctant to sell her, shall be included. Hay money. The hay. The hay. The hay.
            The barn is being readied for winter. With dispatch. Today the miracle worker skid steered for several hours the part that two men dug out from the jugs, the hay chute, and the edges of the walls. It looks so nice in the mow. I’ll take a shovel and scrape it down a little more. Then the miracle worker and I will winterize the place. I like to stuff wool to act as insulation in between the two layer walls. Some cracks in said walls need to be covered over and the hay chutes have to have some kind of sliding doors placed over them that can be moved. Oh, I’ve had them before. However, people who have stacked hay or shoveled manure have moved things around sometimes for the life of me, I didn’t really know where they are. It feels so good to have things started here. Two ewes seem to be bagging. A number seem very fat. That doesn’t promise anything, however, it has put my interest back in the proper place. I’ll take a branch of pine with the needles still on it and sweep the rafters free of cobwebs. One of my favorite tasks.
Have to go. Until the next time.

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