March is the month where everything begins to grow again around here. The plum trees are a riot of blossoms, the sheep are somehow weaseling through the fence into my fruit orchard and trying to kill the trees by eating their bark... I've patched two holes already. And last Tuesday half my flock of 29 decided to go walkabout. We live 1/4 mile from a very busy Highway 101, and half a mile north of our little road is a bridge across Floras Creek. My sheep managed to get off my property, get to Highway 101, and cross that bridge, and then head east up Floras Creek Rd. I got a panicked call from my shearer, Wendy, and I quickly left the shop in the capable hands of my most excellent business partner Cindy, and rushed out to see what carnage a mix of 15 terrified sheep and a baker's dozen assorted automobiles and trucks had caused on a narrow bridge. Did I mention the blind curve?
All's well that ends well. I got to my sheep, they were very glad to see me, but so frightened they wouldn't follow, but they bailed off a hillside back onto the highway, my shearer got ahead of them in her truck and after an exhilerating chase back across the bridge (wheeze, wheeze, puff, puff) and the help of some very good samaritan drivers, we got them headed home. They dove into the woods on our neighbor's place, I herded them back onto our 32 acres, got them into the home pasture which resembles a military prison compound. and locked them up. But that was only half the flock.
The other half had decided to breach the defense perimeter to the south of our property, and had gotten onto a 40 acre deserted farm, had their wicked way with the landscape plants around the farmhouse, then trotted out onto Floras Lake Loop. This time, although the traffic is lighter, there are two blind curves. A kind neighbor got them back into the farmhouse yard, we chased them home, and managed to fix that fence breach so it will be September before they can wade through the rapidly drying swamp and attempt to get over there again. Ever build fence knee deep in a swamp? It's an interesting experience.
I'm currently feeding three bummer lambs, their mothers didn't have any milk. Two lambs is easy. Three gets amazingly difficult. The warm damp bottles are slippery, the lambs are butting rather forcefully, but we seem to get it done every 4 hours. It won't be long though before I'll either have to recruit help or shut one up while I feed the other two. They have become friends with the Shetland lamb born 2 weeks ago to four sheep I'm boarding for someone. It's a joy to watch them run around and play with each other.
And best of all, yesterday I shipped off the "excess" sheep to an auction, so now I'm down to my beloved core group of twelve head. I kept the best of the best, and my flock is looking pretty darned black. Except of course for the token white one and the token brown one. Variety is the spice of life, you know!