It looks like my turkey wire is holding up. Yesterday I found Fanny snacking on the apple tree logs instead of the gate in the barn. Someone wrote to me that the donkeys must have hard teeth to chew on apple tree limbs.
You can hear the crunch and scrape of Fanny’s teeth in the video.
Every day the valley got a little lower, the mountains a little higher. That’s how I saw the 1×6, the middle rail, of the gate on the pole barn as the donkeys slowly ate it away.
They started chewing on it when the snow came and stayed. Even though I put three branches from the apple tree in the barn for them to munch on, that old pine on the gate is soft and easy to nibble.
Every day when I mucked out the barn, I told myself that tomorrow I’d do something about it, but didn’t. Then, this morning I knew, if I didn’t put more chicken wire on the gate right then, the valleys and mountains would vanish and what would be two pieces of wood where once there was one.
I got lucky, it was warmer this morning than it has been. So I pulled some turkey wire out of the barn and got my wire clippers, staple gun, and staples. I stapled the turkey wire to the gate where the older chicken wire had worn away.
I covered both sides, then stapled more wire on the gate leading into the barn which also had some new chew marks.
I don’t doubt that when I got back to the barn, the donkeys will have found something else to chew on. This time I won’t take as long to cover it up with turkey wire.
This time of year, I think of the birds as winter’s flowers.
They bring color and life to the often black-and-white landscape. And even if I don’t specifically sit and watch them at the feeder as I’m working in my studio, just knowing they are there, seeing movement out of the corner of my eye, makes these gray days sing.
Liam follows me into the pole barn. He’s looking for grain even though there is the freshest, greenest second-cut hay in the feeders. There have been days when Liam skips a meal. I’m not sure why, but he is getting old and sometimes he separates himself from the rest of the flock.
Yesterday I made sure he and the older sheep got some grain. The younger sheep aren’t as interested in it. They’d just as quickly eat the hay.
This morning after I finished mucking out the pole barn Liam stayed behind. I filled up the water bucket, fed the hens, and filled up the bird feeder. When I came back, Liam was still in the barn.
He looks stiff like maybe his legs hurt. He’s a big wether. Most male sheep, if they’re not kept for breeding are sent to market as lambs. They don’t get to live as long as my wethers.
When Jon and I lambed about ten years ago, my plan was to send some of the lambs back with the farmer who lent us the breeding Ram (his name was Ted). But once the lambs were born I knew I was no farmer. I couldn’t imagine sending them away.
Liam is the last of the sheep born from that lambing. All the others have already died. So it may be that Liam will not be with us for much longer.
Before I left the barnyard this morning, I brought Liam some hay in the barn. I watched as he pushed it around with his nose, making a little round nest of it. Then he started to nibble, one strand at a time.