Friday, November 5, 2010

Class distinction

We got all the free-range sheep into the yards ready for shearing tomorrow, and it will be just in the nick of time. The late spring has saved them from getting too hot in their woolly jumpers this year, but every day the sun shines brighter. So do the lambs. They are really curious now and investigate everything including the garden-under-the-fence, all the plum tree leaves they can reach and the fish in the bottom of the troughs. They were confined to quarters in the sheep shed overnight to keep them and their mothers separate from the general mob but this snobbery on our part didn't worry them. They'll meet and greet any new animal, sometimes several times.

The sheep for their part were delighted to meet their new neices and nephews despite their inability to mix. We had kept the two crowds separate to make putting them all back neatly in the right places simple the day after shearing. All the sheep took turns introducing themselves to the new little ones and catching up with their ewe cousins through the fox-proof prison mesh. Old friends reunited Several exchanges were had through the wire, escape plans were hatched and offers of smuggling files in hay were made. The lambs however were only annoyed at the restriction in play area until they all fell asleep, expecting to be let out for breakfast tomorrow just like any other morning...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A hive of activity

We briefly checked on the progress or otherwise of the new bee hives in the hay loft today. It was a flying visit... heh... to make sure they had taken to their new boxes. We found one pile of them mourning for their old box and still lumped where it used to be. Or bee.

What this really meant was that the queen was probably somewhere in that lump. Her pheromones were anyway. Two of the three boxes seemed to contain working swarms, although one was slighly less abuzz than the other. The lump of bees were gently scooped into that one. Instantly they stampeded to get in where SO had flipped them over the edge. Eventually they might stop trying to take the lid off and find the actual door.

Clearly they liked the box now anyway. Not so the small nucleus box. Their interest in that went as far as robbing the last of the honey and possibly some wax out of it and then taking it back to one of the other two larger boxes. It was duly emptied of straggler bees and taken away, along with the original hive in the form of the whelping box (now completely cleared out of anything useful by the workers) and the car floor mat used as a temporary lid on one of the hives. This was replaced by an actual lid with ventilators which the bees will appreciate now that the weather is really warming up. Bees having no trade union and no industrial employment laws we do need to look after them a little bit, even if it's just assisting with the airconditioning. Although they even do that themselves. They are pretty self-sufficient really and with their brilliant teamwork they've achieved a lot in a very short time. In places this also includes sticking frames together, building comb up to the roof and very successfully hiding their queen completely so that we're not even really sure that they have one, but those problems will have to wait until after shearing, fire danger clearing and other pressing engagements.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The longest wait

There is a certain time of evening when the humans disappear into the Dog Free Zone in the kitchen and certain sounds are heard. The chink of china bowls. The fridge door opening. Sometimes the slice of knife on chopping board, sometimes the sound of tins being cut open. Always a delicious aroma. Hard to wait patiently for any of it to come out and make it to floor level. Still, wait the dogs must. Snowy thinks staring very hard at the miniscule gap under the door might make it widen, but Georgie knows that the door handle turns and that's the trick.

Being nearly blind, however, means Georgie sometimes gets disoriented and stares hopefully at the wall instead.
And if there's movement! Dogs must get to it, scrabble hard and try to help it happen faster.

But movement doesn't always mean food being served. Sometimes it's a very long wait.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quietly gleaming

The horses love to go halfway up the valley to a flat spot among our current crop of thistles and just mooch about. The weather gods have been playing with their yo-yos this spring but today was one of the sunny, warm days. Gem and Princess got in a spot of show practice, standing perfectly square and side by side for well over half an hour. It's highly unlikely these two retirees will ever be shown again, but they like us to know that they've still got it. Kalara, the oldest and most show-experienced was playing judge and scrutinising them from all angles.

Princess demonstrated how to be pretty and golden, but Gem showed everyone how to just ooze gloss. Kalara was clearly impressed when it came time to call the numbers.

There were no rosettes as this was only practice. Although they could have used the purple thistle heads.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The lambs are slowly growing into their ears. They run in groups at dawn and in the twilight, some in pogo-lamb bounces and some just leaping wildly, but so far none have actually managed to take off.