Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Lately it has felt as though The Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was written as my personal soundtrack.  Summer is always hectic for me and this summer has been absolutely slammed so far.  I have had a lovely little trip this month to Idaho for a wedding.  Here are some photos:

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I finally learned how to take panoramic shots.

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Yes I am wearing a fascinator.  I bought it in England when I lived there.  I have long thought that this was one of the more charming traditions that the British keep alive so I wore it to the wedding.  Also, you don’t have to do as much to your hair this way….

Part of the reason that I am so busy is that I am having to move the sheep far more often than I am used to since there are so many more little mouths to feed.  I also cannot get away with smaller enclosures anymore for the same reason, so it means that I am taking-down and setting-up way more square feet of electro-netting than I ever have been.  We’ve also been abnormally hot here in Iowa for most of the spring and summer, so it’s been miserable to do all this fence moving. 

I have also been spending a lot of time training Mikey.  I was correct that in the short-term getting a working dog was going to make my life a lot more difficult as all of my spare time is now taken-up with working with him.  If I am not moving sheep after work I am working with him at the breeders farm.  I sometimes get how soccer moms feel as I am constantly driving either to or from practice these days.

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He came home for the weekend last weekend to see how things went.  He seemed to like his kennel, he liked hanging-out and seeing all that was going on on the farm.  He was scared of the cats, which was pretty hilarious as they were frightened of him too.  There was a lot of mutual flattening of bodies to the ground and giving wide berth to each other.   He liked the other dogs and wanted to play with them.  Malcolm gave him a little of his time but the two little ones weren’t interested in playing with him at this point.  He was also afraid of my nieces but I had been careful to have him on a short leash when I brought him over so we quickly separated them.  No-one, neither dog nor child, was hurt.  He hasn’t ever been around small children or cats before, so these were all new experiences for him and I am sure that he will get used to them with time.

I decided to give him a little job to do of rounding up the lambs that were out.  He was doing pretty well at it until Alanis spotted me.  She came running towards me and Mikey got in front of her like he was supposed to.  Well, Miss Alanis was very annoyed that this animal was blocking her way.  She kept bah-ing at me in a very indignant manner, not backing down from Mikey at all.  Imagine, a fifteen pound lamb staring down a forty-five pound collie giving her the patented collie stare.  All I could think of was the photos of protesters putting flowers in the muzzles of riot police guns.  After a few seconds of this, getting impatient, Alanis starts to stomp her little foot in her most intimidating manner.   Mikey looks back at me like, “Dude, what do I do now?  This was not covered in the book!”  Alanis takes this chance to deftly dart around Mike and wedges herself between my legs from behind, now facing Mike’s back end.  Mike is now completely flabbergasted and doesn’t really know what the heck to do so once I get done laughing I instruct him to continue with the other lambs and that I have this one and I pick Alanis up to make my point.  He composed himself and then cornered the remaining lambs for me, but he kept giving Alanis dirty looks.  The two of them will have to come to an understanding eventually, but not right now when he’s still being trained and she’s so little as it would be easy for him to injure her by accident.

One job that is now off my to-do list is bottle-feeding Alanis.  She had her last ba-ba (bottle) on Monday.  I weaned her gradually, first going from twice a day to only in the mornings.  Then I gradually decreased the amount that she was getting.  She still wants her ba-ba and comes running to me, but now she just gets chin scratches and a little love.  She’s doing fine, but will often complain to me about her lack of ba-ba by grumbling at me, often with a full mouth.

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Alanis’ last ba-ba.

I took two wether lambs to their new home last weekend.  One of them was Izzy, the lamb that was silent auctioned off at the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival.  The other one wasn’t yet named, so their new owner gets the honor of that.  She didn’t have any other sheep so decided to buy another little guy to go with Izzy.  I think that they will do well in their new home.  They have plenty of space…

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It is also hay season.  This year I have purchased about two hundred small squares in addition to a greater amount of large square bales.  I need to divide the pen this autumn as the lambs and yearlings are getting pushed out of the food too often.  As a result, they were thinner than I would have liked them to be after their first winter.  Hence the small bales.  I’m not sure that I am going to be able to get to the area of the pen where they are being kept with the all-terrain fork-lift so I need to be able to carry the bales to them.  Anyway, these bales are being kept in the grainery as it’s got a good roof on it and it’s only got a human doorway so it can’t be used for the larger bales anyway.  I have used it in the past to keep the sheep in there after shearing, so there was some bedding and dried-up manure on the floor that needed to be scooped out.  I had planned on doing that Sunday afternoon after I got done with work, but then I got word that I needed to have the trailer unloaded that night too.  So, I scooped out the grainery enough that I could get several pallets down to put the hay on.

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Just so that you are able to get a good idea of how big that pile is, it was about as tall as I am.

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Then I unloaded over one hundred bales of hay into the grainery by myself.  Between working a nine hour day, plus scooping, plus unloading, I was exhausted.  Honestly, I felt like I should have leveled-up or received a badge or something when I got done with that.  I still need to stack some of the bales, but that will have to wait until I have some help as the stacked bales were already well above my head and I would have had to have used a ladder to get them up there.  And I had no where anywhere close to that kind of energy remaining.  Or daylight for that matter.

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There is another trailer of equal bale number awaiting unloading still.  I need to get the unstacked bales stacked and the rest of the grainery cleaned-out before I can begin tackling that mass.

The large bales are faster to move.  They have to be loaded and unloaded by machine as each weigh somewhere in the ballpark of eight-hundred pounds.  We have several pieces of equipment that can carry them, so it’s not usually a big deal.  They can also be broken-up and carried by hand, but I end-up with a LOT of hay in my bra somehow that way.

I keep hoping that one of these days, things are going to slow down just a little so that I can enjoy summer a bit.  Maybe go swimming with my nieces or even try kayaking!  However, I think that I must be the only person in the Northern Hemisphere that is honestly happy that the days are getting shorter and that Autumn is just a couple of months away.

One thought on “Like a Bumblebee

  1. nancywalter41@yahoo.com says:

    You look very pretty in your fascinator. So glad you wrote about mike and Alanis. Such a cute story. You have a healthy life with all that cardio and weight lifting!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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