Sheep death

Sad day Friday – we found the body of one of our sheep, lying in the stream.  It looked like she might have tangled her foot in her fleece and lost her balance, and fell into the water and couldn’t get out; probably on Thursday, a day of heavy rain.

This is our first large-animal death (well, other than being butchered for meat… which is different, somehow).  So it goes.  The unreasonable joy of lambs in the spring is balanced by cold dreary death in winter.

Lambs in happier days

Lambs in their younger, happier days of Spring

Is it spring?

We’ve had some warmer weather the last couple of days, the frogs are making a lot of noise and the grass is starting to grow.  This afternoon I checked on the beehives, and all three hives had bees coming in and out, enjoying some sunshine.  Then this evening when I went out after dark to pick some kale for dinner…. the garden is full of… slugs!  And cutworms and even a few earwigs.  So I did the first slug pick of the year, into a jar to dispose of by duck in the morning.  Not many huge brown slugs, it was mostly the striped ones that don’t get as big, but they were full size, many an inch and some two-inchers. The cutworms were fat and healthy looking.  In Portland the cutworms were a problem, but I saw more cutworms tonight than I’ve seen in the last decade.  But it really seems to early to have to deal with this, it’s January.

For dinner: meatballs made of lamb heart, cooked with onions and garlic and kale and served over spaghetti squash.  That’s the last of our “offal” from the sheep butchering, we ate liver and kidneys over the weekend, I think I’ve figured out how to cook these parts so they are pleasant in texture and flavor. The squashes are starting to go, at least the large ones have some spots, so we have to cut out bits before cooking.  The delicatas in the garage seem to keep better, maybe it’s too cold in the “root cellar”  The onions are keeping well, but the garlic is getting dry, and the kale is at an awkward stage (as well having to inspect for slugs).  The onion and lettuce starts are spending their first night in the greenhouse tonight.  It does seem to be rolling along for spring.

Project No-mow

We have four grass-hungry sheep, some empty spaces between gardens and house where the grass grows raggedly, and one guy who hates weedwhacking. Permaculture has a principle “the problem is the solution”… so, this weekend we rigged up chicken wire with t-posts and rebar, and closed off half the yard, and the sheep attacked the grass like ravenous wild beasts. Assuming that 3′ of dainty mesh keeps them in that area and out of the garden, we’d like to protect the small trees in the rest of the yard, and let the sheep really take over mowing duty.

(The sheep have no business being quite that hungry, by the way. They are fat enough that they jiggle when they run; real sheep people tell us the girls need to be on a strict diet).