While the rest of the sheep and donkeys ate from one feeder, Liam and the twins, Asher and Issachar were feasting together at the other feeder.
Since Zelda died I feel like Liam has become the leader of the flock. Zelda was a natural leader, Liam seems to be a leader by default.
But he has turned out to be gentle wether. I was worried about him as a lamb, he was always getting into trouble and I thought if he wasn’t castrated he probably would have turned out to be an aggressive ram.
Liam has welcomed the young twins and it seems like they look to Liam as Zinnia looks to Bud and Fate to learn the ways of the farm.
Today is rainy, icy and cold, a good day to be inside by the woodstove.
But yesterday morning the sun was shining when I fed the sheep and donkeys. I was filling up the water bucket when I heard something that sounded like the sheep feeder being dragged around the barnyard.
I put down the bucket of water I was carrying and walked back to where the sheep were eating. That’s when I saw our new wether Asher pulling his back legs into the feeder. By the time I got to him, he was lying down in the feeder eating. The rest of the sheep were eating around him as if it was something they did every day.
The feeder is made from slippery plastic and has a rounded bottom, so I’m sure it would have been hard for Asher to stand up in it. I pushed and prodded him, helping him get his footing so he could jump out.
When our shearer Liz dropped the two-year-old wethers off at the farm she said they looked like teenaged boys with their long legs and slight bodies. I thought the same when I saw Asher in the feeder. That he was acting like a teenaged boy, trying to gobble down every piece of food in the refrigerator.
I have never seen one of our sheep do this before. I’m glad I was there to help Asher out. He hasn’t done it again and I hope learned not to from this experience. But I’ll keep an eye and ear on him for the next week or so, just to make sure.
When Izzy first started spending time alone away from the other sheep, I wanted to believe she was just being independent.
But as time passed, I began to see that something else was happening.
She began calling out for the other sheep not seeming to know where they were. And they didn’t answer her or join her as sheep usually do. She became more easily startled and confused.
Izzy was very friendly when we first got her, but in the past six months or so, she wouldn’t let me get close to her.
And since we started feeding the animals hay a few days ago, I saw that she wasn’t eating it. When all the sheep ran to the feeder, Izzy would go out to the pasture and graze alone.
With the recent snow, there is little to eat. She would never survive the winter not eating hay.
I didn’t think much of the strange way she was walking till I read the symptoms of Huntington’s Disease this evening as I was researching dementia in sheep.
That’s what both Jon and I thought might be going on with Izzy. Her behavior was just too unusual for there not to be something wrong with her and dementia seemed probable.
But then I found out that sheep do get Huntington’s Disease. Actually some of the research into the disease is being done on sheep.
The symptoms that I see in Izzy are a lack of coordination, and a jerky “unsteady gait”, problems with mental ability and an inability to eat and dementia. It is mostly a hereditary disease.
This morning Izzy stayed in the pole barn while the other sheep ate their hay. Later Izzy wandered out alone to the far pasture to graze. She was out by herself all day, sometimes calling to the other sheep but never with them.
This morning Jon and I talked about euthanizing Izzy. I wasn’t quite ready to do it, I needed a little more time to get used to the idea. But this evening, after reading about Huntington’s Disease, I have no doubt that it’s best to euthanize Izzy as soon as we can.
Now that I understand what is happening to her, I can only imagine her confusion and fear.
Since she is so skittish now, it won’t be easy to get Izzy into the barn. Maybe because of the cold weather, she’ll stay there again tomorrow morning, as she did today, while the other sheep eat. Then I can close the gates and give her some grain to help keep her calm.
Jon and I decided that it’s best for him to shoot her.
I can’t help but think how Asher and Issachar, our two new wethers, came to us this fall and we are about to lose another sheep. It’s hard for me not to believe that those twins came to take their places.
I thought I’d start something new called News From The Pasture.
When I go out to check on the animals by myself, Jon will ask me “What’s going on out there.” Often it’s the usual, I open or close a gate and the sheep follow me or hang out in the pole barn.
But sometimes, like today, there is news from the pasture.
First Griselle uncharacteristically pushed her way to the front of the line as I took this video. She obviously thought my iPhone was something good to eat!
Once they got through the gate our new wether(castrated male sheep) Issachar started humping Suzy who was doing a lot of butt wiggling and I have no doubt is in heat. As this was going on, Kim my Karakul ewe, head-butted Issachar from the rear, chasing him off Suzy.
We have two wethers, Liam who is Suzy’s lamb and Pumpkin who is Socks’ lamb and I’ve never seen them hump any of the other sheep, which is kind of unusual now that I think of it.
But then, maybe that’s because Kim taught them, early on, not to.
For the weeks before I have my sheep shorn and I bring their wool to the mill to be made into yarn, I’m anxious about it.
I’ve been doing this for about five or six years and I am much more knowledgable about the process than I was when I first started, but I still always feel like I don’t know enough. And I always worry that I’m going to be asking too many questions or that what I want done with my wool is too complicated.
It’s an old issue for me, afraid to ask for what I want, not wanting to be too much of a bother.
But the thing I don’t remember when I’m waking up at night worried about my wool is that when I actually get to the Vermont Fiber Mill with the forms already filled out and yellow post-it’s on each batch with my questions for Deb, is that it’s actually fun.
Deb, who owns the mill with her husband Ed is always willing to spend the time answering my question, going over colors and catching up on news about our animals or where Deb and her husband are vacationing this year.
This time I was concerned that I would have too much wool.
For weeks I was coming up with alternatives if Deb couldn’t process it all. But, as I learned today, the wool off the sheep weighs more than the wool once it’s cleaned and not heavy with lanolin. And that’s the weight that matters.
And if there was too much wool, I would just get some back a little later.
Now I’m wondering what I’m going to find to be anxious about when I bring the next batch of wool to the mill in the spring. I’m hoping I can remember that I’m actually pretty good at figuring out how to best process the wool, ask the right questions and get the help I need. And that I really do learn something new each time I do this.
Also, if I do make a mistake or things don’t go the way I wanted, I want to be able to trust myself to know that I’ll be able to figure that out too.
I chose this golden yellow for Liam and Rosemary’s wool and am having some of it made into roving too.
I combined Socks and Izzy’s wool and will dye half of it this maroon and the other half I’m leaving it’s natural gray and will twist it with Kim’s white wool making a Barber Pole yarn.
Suzy, Pumpkin and Biddy’s wool will be combined. A third of it will be teal, a third orange, and a third natural. I’ll be dying over a light gray, so I chose the colors knowing that they’ll come out darker than the samples. Although it’s impossible to know exactly how they’ll turn out, I have a good feeling about them.
As always, I chose colors thinking about how they would look together and with the natural grays. I’ll get the yarn back in the spring around shearing time.
You can see how the sheep already have a thin layer of wool on their bodies. More than enough to keep them warm. Jon and I are about to leave to drop off their wool to the Vermont Fiber Mill. It’s an hour and a half away, we’ll get breakfast on at the Tin Soldier Diner on the way.
Our plan was to try and sell a couple of Suzy’s shawls on my blog and she’d take the rest of them to an Art Fair near her. But the shawls I posted on my blog sold so quickly and then she sold another that I didn’t even get a chance to post.
Suzy has two more shawls that she just finished so we decided, since so many people want them, that it made sense to sell the last two shawls in my Etsy Shop.
The wool Suzy hand spins and hand knits with comes mostly from her own mohair goats, Lucy, Alice, April, Ruth and Larry, and then she suppliments it with wool from other fiber artists.
Suzy’s Turquoise and Black Shawl is 51″ long and 15″ from top center to bottom point. It’s Sold $138 including shipping and you can buy it here.
Susan, who bought two of Suzy’s shawls, wrote this about them…
“Simply gorgeous. I have two from prior Open Houses. They are truly scrumptious. I loved seeing Suzy spinning and those sweet goats. That natural color wool shawl is so intriguing with the curly locks and the vivid colors of the other is just beautifully complex and equally wonderful.”
All of Suzy’s shawls are as soft as they look. The other one for sale is her Red and Gray Shawl.
Suzy’s Red and Gray Shawl is 53″ long and 18″ from top center to bottom point. It’s Sold $138 including shipping. You can buy it here.