Friday, November 06, 2009

Where Have the Sheep Gone?

LinkFor 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?)


Penny said...

{hugs} I'm not upset because of the cycle of life and the need to eat even though i know these coyotes aren't paying as they should and taking money from your family. I'm more upset by how where i grew up (and many other places) housing developments have taken over the farms and the life that was there ... well, it's not been pretty.

sending good thoughts for the electric fence.

Pam S. said...

This sounds like an amazing life. I'm sorry you lost some of your animals. I live in Pawtucket and the coyotes are here, too. I love your designs and it's interesting to see the behind the scenes.

Kat said...

We've got coyotes in JP as well. Saw one a few weeks ago when I was out walking the dog in the wee hours of the morning.

Good to know Eeyore is up to the task.

marit said...

Thanks for the update! I really enjoy hearing about your farmlife(as well as your knitting!).We have fox here that might take newborn lambs, and the raven too. It's part of life, but it sucks!

Beautiful house and photography.

Lyn said...

I love the photos, especially the last one, very atmospheric!

mb. said...

ah, donkeys.

we have an old aussie shepherd mix that has always loved donkeys, even before we got one. & we got one & somehow he does not seem to think she is a dog (also the chihuahua is not a dog, go figure). The other shepherd, the mystery mix, the GSP/PB, even the mini-dachshund: they are dogs & he would love to get his paws...uhm...hooves on them.

Stasia said...

Even though our dogs and donkeys know one another, we keep them separated by a fence at all times, so there is never any "confusion".

We've had tremendous good luck with Premier's eNets - we use solar chargers, and they work well for us even through the late-Fall months, and even into winter if we stamp down the snow (tho' usually we take them out by then since there's no need for rotational grazing). They are easy to move and set up, and the charger works great.

How is Eeyore for his hoof trims? Judging by his back hooves, not good! ;)

We had a great horned owl take some of our pastured poultry this summer (more eNets prevented any terrestrial predators from getting them) and I had to admit, I was thrilled to be visited by such a beautiful being. I was glad to give up some poultry so s/he could raise a family.

Thank you for running the contest with your new book!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin,
I love your book and the designs. I am also so happy Webs is carrying your designs in kits! That was a brilliant move. Lu

Annette Riebe said...

I love your designs! And reading about your farm. Glad Phoebe was ok!

Myriam said...

merci pour ces superbes photos de moutons!

EJ said...

boy would i like to come and live in that house and restore it... (what a dream)

Kristi said...

Yikes! Poor Phoebe. I hope she is okay.

Anonymous said...

Coyotes are adaptive, I see them sometimes even in this Denver, CO suburb. Have you thought about adding to your farm one of the big gorgeous dogs that guard llamas, alpacas and sheep exceptionally well?

Take a look here (NAAY) for great info:


Anonymous said...

Okay, here's a tiny version of the link on 'dogs that guard sheep' as it seems it got cut off:


Jenny Bergvall said...

I just found you blog via Youtube. I went to youtube to learn how to make a flower and found your tutorial.Just wanna say thank U for it and I now have a pic of my first crochet flower in my blog. It's not perfect... but it's a flower ;)

Willow said...

Yes, there is something Wyeth about that last photo. Very nice.

It would be a good thing if more people found out where their food comes from. Sometimes I get students who say, "Ewww, yuck. You mean carrots grow in DIRT?"

Bridal registry said...

The place is really beautiful. It feels like paradise. You have a large number of herd it's wonderful.