Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Deer Hunting

The boys had some success with hunting this season. Clancy and I haven't yet. But the boys filled up the freezer this year so we are ever so thankful.
And proud. The boys were extra careful about safety. And they made clean single shots.
Pictured in order of their take: Leif...


Monday, November 17, 2008

Breeding Season!

I can't resist taking pictures of the rams as soon as the ewes are introduced to the breeding pens. They strike the most ridiculous poses!
Clancy and I finished up the fencing on the second ram pen yesterday around noon. We were working just a few feet from Unicorn and Bombarde's winter pen (the one Uni will use during breeding.) Bombarde was standing on his hind legs nearly the whole time it took us to wire some net type fencing into the metal round pen. He KNEW what day it was. He KNEW he'd be meeting his girls soon and he could hardly wait.
Unicorn had his head buried in his hay flake. I ventured a guess that he was just too big and dumb to notice the annual subtle shift in behavior which signals the breeding season is imminent. Clancy figured it was more a case of Uni considers himself King Ram. "No doubt his harem will be delivered to him shortly."
I laughed at that. Then I realized how likely that was true...Unicorn is a pain to handle because he is so big and hard to catch. Plus he likes to show off for girls and he seems to need more space and indestructible holding pens. We always leave him in the winter pen and bring his ewes to him.
Bombarde, on the other hand, is very easy to catch and leads like a charm. He is clever and good at escaping when the fencing is not up to snuff. But he is a gentleman with his ewes and he does not tend to run them like Unicorn. So I always take him to a different area to meet his girls. He actually has the smaller round pen with 3 ewes rather than 2. And I see signs that he has already bred Rai Min. Bomby is relaxed in smaller spaces-probably because he is not the dominant ram. His personal space is usually decided by someone else.

Back in the non-breeding ewe pen, the '08 lambs are officially weaned now. Oh, the fuss! One might think they were 7 weeks old instead of 7 months old. Where's my MOMMY????!!! Old Rachel is babysitting. She seems to enjoy the extra space at the feeder.
So does bitty Silvy. I'm so proud of her. She has really learned to advocate for herself. Even though she gets pushed out quite a bit, she has learned to push right back to get what she needs. The other ewe lambs cut her some slack now.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hello Winter

And all of a sudden...it's here. Winter arrived in a blasting fury last night. After days of heavy rains, the mists slowly became snowflakes. The winds swooped down and brought with it a wet blanket of white.
Just in time for deer hunting. All three boys will be hunting this year for the first time. They have different concerns than I did at that age. One doesn't want to hunt weekends when other people are in the woods. One says he will only shoot a buck because he can't stand the thought of perhaps separating a doe from her fawn. The youngest wants to hunt birds more but is not going to pass up this chance to carry firearms.
The boys will go out one at a time with Clancy, my dad, or me. To be honest, I would rather shoot one of the deer that keeps eating the clover in my pasture. But the boys will go into the woods to aim at anonymous deer, if they see any.
Yesterday the road sides were swarming with a ridiculous number of deer. Then the storm hit and we haven't seen one since. No matter how many deer seem to be all around, hunting them is usually not just a piece of cake. It takes time, skill, patience, luck...whatever it is that challenges one most. These days, for me it takes will power. Getting frozen to the bone isn't as much fun as it used to be. Especially when putting a lamb in the freezer requires so little from the farmer the day of "harvest". Harvesting deer takes significantly more energy and time.
As strange as it is to say it...hunting is not about my comfort this year. It is about the boys and what I can do to help them have the chance at experiencing what our heritage has to share with them. My dad shared that with me and it's my turn to invest in them. One or more of them may decide they are not interested. My sister and I were both taught how to hunt deer. I was wild about it and Selena decided she liked fishing much better. The point is giving them the introduction to see if they like it. They don't have to. But like the way the fishing has turned out, they may discover they like learning the skills, putting food on the table, and even the excitement of achieving a goal that is not guaranteed.