Monday, April 19, 2010

hello you

I have been overrun by sheep.

I happened upon a strange mix of delightful new experiences this week that I just have to share.  Living in the heart of farmlands amid the small-town quiet-life, where simple pioneering life is still in style...there is wild adventure (chaos) happening just on the other side of that barnyard fence.  For real. 

I am a people person and a photojournalist so I am naturally drawn to individuals with character and stories to tell, and I happened upon just that...Lambing. 

For a city girl, it is rather intense. So I will warn you now~ if you are a bit timid of farm animals, thinking that lambs *just appear* in pretty green meadows in springtime or if you get a little woozy when there is a bit of blood or alfalfa covered away now. 
I shared last week some photos and thoughts about the sweet goodness of the sheep farm. I have learned there is much more to it, and it is fascinating:

I fell in love with a farm just down the road, the B's farm.  Farmer B has been tending sheep for 30+ years, a hobby farmer at first, with a family of sheep that just grew larger (and larger) as he retired from High School teaching.  Now he owns and cares for 800+ sheep (& up by more than 25 a day right now).  He brings them into this small sheep farm for lambing season, but typically they are winter-grazing on the open desert or they are taken up the mountain (think Heidi...with those open fields of wildflowers). Obviously with 800 head of sheep, the month of lambing is laborious and exhausting.  Hence, the willingness to have me be involved ~ besides I think they are all a little loco from being in the sun too long?

I hope to share my experiences with you this week...but first you must meet the sheep dogs.

"Gringa" I think is what they call her (white girl).  I call her: "Oh, you sweetest thing".  A four month old great Pyrenees, the only survivor of her litter, born here on the coldest night in all the nation. 

She is the real sheep lover in the camp, she thinks she is a sheep. Farmer told me that it isn't good for her to be around the sheep camp so much ~ sometimes they will like it too much and their job really is to stay in the fields with the sheep.  But I was lucky enough to spend a day with her, here in the stalls, and I am undone by her sheep-loving-heart.  
After moving the day old lambs out into the lamby-playground behind the stalls (I am sure farmer has a different name for it), Gringa came into the stalls and walked up and down the long stall-path.  She noticed the ewe in the stall that had had a terrible delivery (prolapsed uterus) and was in distress.  She stopped, she layed down, and quietly pawed at the ewe through the wood barrier.  She licked her nose and stayed with her for a least an hour.   
 I hope to get more of her in action and on the open field this week, she is tending the week-old lambs and their mums.  She is a treasure.

Meet the Mom-dog.  I got a bit too close to her liking, probably because I was sneaking up on the sheep and getting down low in the hay for the shot. She obviously thought I needed a bit of rebuking (a fat slobber-kiss).  I think she thinks she's tending me?

I have too many photos and stories to tell right now,
I will be back soon!
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