For the past month or so, the sheep have been grazing our neighbor's fields. They got rid of their dairy cows a few winters ago (you can read about that here if you are new to the blog). They hay many of the fields, but sometimes the hay doesn't get taken off and winter comes. If the fields don't get mowed, small trees, shrubs, and all kinds of plants will grow up quickly. It doesn't take long for a beautiful green pasture to become scrub land.
When The Farmer asked them if he could put the sheep on their land, they relished the chance of having the sheep mow and fertilize the fields. Every day, The Farmer heads way up the hill to check to see that the sheep made it through the night and that no incidences occurred. Incidences around here mean sheep jumping the fence, coyotes getting over or under the electronet fence. About a month back, we lost one adult sheep and two lambs to the coyotes. It is never an easy day when one of the sheep is killed.
Try as you may, this kind of stuff happens on a farm. I don't write about it too much because it seems to upset people quite a bit. I have had to get used to the death and destruction while living here close to nature. To tell you the truth, I can't believe how used to it I have gotten. I grew up a suburban girl but I can surely say now that I've become a country girl. When I got involved in farming over 25 years ago, I was really upset everytime a coyote killed a lamb. I didn't see the sense in it. But as I listened to The Farmer who has always lived with nature (and who happens to be the Voice of Reason in this household), I began to understand that every being has to eat. And when you raise sheep, they are sometimes food for the local coyotes, hawks, and bears - or whatever else eats our sheep and chickens. I'm telling you, sometimes I think I am living my life on "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" or a "National Geographic Wildlife Special."
So back to the sheep..... Disgusted as The Farmer was, and always trying to keep the wildlife out and sheep safe, he has now invested in a super high voltage charger for the electronet fencing. The snafu with this is he has to have a source of electricity to charge this high voltage system (or as he says "it will knock you down on your behind if you touch it Kristin"). Right now he is using an outlet in our neighbor's abandoned milkroom. The electric wire is strung a really long way. It crosses a wood road and he has it marked with some red cotton yarn of mine, hoping noone will drive a truck through it (shotgun deer hunting season starts next week). It's all a bit cobbed together but it is working for the most part and we haven't lost a sheep or lamb since he purchased this charger. The downfall to this thing is he always has to have a source of power. Previously, he used marine batteries to power the fence and although they are effective, they didn't throw enough current to keep the coyotes out.
I'm sure the coyotes will get in again and have a tasty dinner but for the time being, things are working. Eeyore, our guard donkey, does his job somewhat although stuff still happens. I got a first hand lesson in Eeyore's coyote techniques the other night when I was taking these photos. Julia and I were just about to leave the field. The sun was really going down quickly. We had to walk a wood road and get back to the truck. Wildlife starts coming out when the sun goes down. I know there has been a big bear in the vicinity and I really didn't want to run into him in the dark. I had the two dogs with me so I felt pretty safe.
As we were climbing over the fence, I turned around and Eeyore was stamping on Phoebe, our older Border Collie. He was then trying to pick her up with his teeth and throw her on the ground. Luckily I was able to call him off by screaming madly and rushing towards him but I was pretty scared for Phoebe. I know he is only doing his job and this is what he does to the coyotes. I suppose he thought she was fair game because she is a canine.
So there's a little farm update for you all. It is all in a day's work.
Thanks to everyone who came out to Webs. What a great bunch of people you all are. It was fun to meet everyone and show you all the projects from both Kristin Knits and Color by Kristin. The comment I liked best was - "Wow, the projects look so beautiful in the book but they are so much prettier and more amazing in person." And yes, I do agree with that, everything is always better in person! Being on this hill the other night taking photos of the sunset and the sheep - it was all even prettier and amazing in person.
Have a good weekend everyone.
(The house in the photos is a long ago abandoned house which is slowly decaying into the ground. I love to take photos of it - it has such a Andrew Wyeth quality to it, doesn't it?)