(5/13/17) The News at BFF

May 13th, 2017

My dear Readers...three months have passed, and I have to tell you that every time I thought about writing, I would remember my last post about Mikey...I just couldn't face seeing that again. I still cry sometimes when I think about him, but I know my heart is healing somewhat - I can at least talk about him without my voice breaking, and I can rejoice when I see reminders of him in his siblings...last night I was petting Black Velvet, and there is a look she gives me that is just so Mikey-esque, and I am beyond grateful for that.  I am so thankful for all of my sheep - their quirky personalities, and the love and trust they have in me.

Because it has been three months, there is some news to share - I no longer have four sheep...I have six! The Fab Four has become the Stunning Sextet with the addition of two Finnsheep to the flock - meet Ruby and Garnet!

Ruby is a four-year-old ewe (front) and Garnet is her two-year-old wethered son (peeking over his mama's head). They were owned by a lady who had to rehome them immediately, and when Lee heard about them, she e-mailed me the information. I saw "wether" and my heart lurched a bit...I was still hurting so badly over Mikey, but I didn't want to "replace" him.  There will never be any sheep who can replace Mikey - or any of the sheep, for that matter. But I do want to be able to help sheep in need, and these sweethearts needed a home. So as soon as the weather allowed, my daughter and I drove south about 2-1/2 hours to pick them up. When we got there, I was shocked at how wild they were - part of me said, "Don't do this, Jennifer - you're not going to be able to handle them." But I couldn't turn away from them - their wool was so matted, and I felt like they were desperate for a good home with people who had time to spend with them. I understand that not everybody handles their sheep the same way I do - and I'm certainly not saying that my way is the only correct way. The experiences this past winter humbled me to the point of feeling like I don't know squat about what I'm doing. But the one thing I do know is that if I'm going to have sheep, then they are going to be handled and they are going to be  loved. And my heart told me that that was what Ruby and Garnet needed.

The Finns rode home in the back of our van - they did great, despite being quite scared - and when we got them home, my son was there to help us get them into their pasture. We did the same thing we've done in the past with introducing new sheep - they are installed in the upper barn (which I have now christened The Prancing Pony Inn), while the current flock is kept to the lower barn (now known as Bag End...are you seeing a theme here yet, dear Readers?)! Because the pastures are adjacent to each other, the sheep can safely become acquainted through the fence. And this time I decided to keep them separated for a good long while...Ruby and Garnet had never been vaccinated or wormed, so I wanted to make sure they were healthy before having them in close contact with the Fab Four. I did give them Ivomec (deworming) before loading them into the van, but I didn't have the BoSe (selenium/Vitamin E to prevent white muscle disease) and Covexin-8 (vaccine that prevents 8 different diseases) that Lee gives them at shearing, so it was best to keep everyone separated until then. We picked them up on St. Patrick's Day, and with shearing scheduled for April 15th, it was a great opportunity for everyone to get used to one another for almost a month before putting them together.

The time passed quickly as we waited for Lee's Shearing Bee - and I was lucky enough to have a wonderful friend volunteer to haul my sheep to Lee's place in her horse trailer! I was so used to being able to cart around the small sheep in my Toyota Sienna that I was really having a hard time figuring out what to do with Daisy and Cupcake - and I am now in the process of purchasing my own small horse trailer for future shearings! But this time around we were blessed by the kindness of a friend, so everyone was safely transported to shearing in a very large, accommodating horse trailer!

(Top, l-r - The Woolly bunch awaits their turn; my son and our friend, Willie, comfort Daisy; Cupcake has much to say about all of this.)

(Middle, l-r - Our amazing shearer, Martin, takes care of Cupcake, Ruby, then Panda Bear.)

(Bottom, l-r - A very nekkid Garnet; the crew from WSU does hoof trimming, deworming, and vaccinating; nekked sheep being loaded back into the horse trailer.)

Once everyone was sheared and back home, we let them loose in the yard together.  Of course, there was some scuffling, but for the  most part, they were so interested in the grass they hadn't been able to eat yet that they really didn't care too much about what the other members of the flock were up to! And over the last several weeks, I've watched these flocks of four and two truly become a flock of six. As I've been working on this post, the weather has been predictably unpredictable - typical for Moscow this time of year - and the beautiful sunshine suddenly turned into a hailstorm.  I quickly went out to make sure everyone had come up from the east pasture into the barn - saw the Fab Four in there, so shut the gate on their pasture. When Ruby and Garnet came up, I tried calling them into their pasture, assuming they would still want to run up and be in The Prancing Pony...nope.  They wanted to be with THEIR flock in Bag End. So I opened that gate and in they ran - Garnet laid down while Ruby started eating from the hay feeder alongside Panda Bear. Daisy and Black Velvet were just happy that I was there, reassuring them about the noisy hail on their roof and providing plenty of pets in the process.

When I return (and I promise it won't be another three months!) I will tell you the rest of my news. You noticed the Tolkien references, I presume? I'm in a bit of a Tolkien state of mind these days - as I mentioned in a previuos post, this year is the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, so my Blaine Fleece and Fiber group on Ravelry is doing some really fun things to celebrate! And it just wouldn't be a celebration without a Fellowship of some sort...perhaps even a Fellowsheep!

See you soon and thank you for reading!

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