Saturday, November 21, 2015

Settling in...

The past weeks have been more than hectic enough; including chestnut and hickory-pecan harvests made possible by the sheep (and horses) - and getting our Icelandics separated for the breeding season into 3 groups; 2 breeding rams, Cable, and Buster; and the non-breeding ram pen.

The flock had never been separated like this before, and the process took on the characteristics of a rodeo, with Brandon as the chief sheep-tackle.  Thank goodness.  More exciting than either sheep or people really needed; but we all calmed down dramatically once the process was complete.

With a few days to catch our breath - the world has now moved on - it's Winter.

I saw this out the house window, while inside warming up.  When I got outside with the camera- it was gone.  The sun had moved just a bit, and the one that caught my eye was now shaded by a tree trunk.  But.  Several that had been shaded, were now illuminated.

Stained glass windows, and Christmas tree ornaments, I thought.  Blackberry leaves; snow; and sunlight.

Incomparable wealth.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


We had the most gorgeous pumpkins for jack-o-lanters this year that we've ever had, in all my 40 years of growing pumpkins.

And yes; we had them because the sheep planted them.  And fertilized them.  With no help from us humans.  Really!
That one's a bit fuzzy, because it was hand held for a full second.  The artists; left to right, Eleanor Rutter, Mark Hamann, Philip, Meg.

Pumpkins are in fact excellent fall / winter feed for the Icelandics; we've fed them every year.  Last October 30 or so, Meg came back home from volunteering at the school with the back of the van full of surplus pumpkins.  They obviously had good jack-o-lantern genetics; good color, good size, and very strong "handles".  We fed them to the sheep in various paddocks; but most of them went to the non-breeding rams; held in a smaller pen where they needed us to feed them.  

I'm not sure if the seed went through the sheep, or they just missed a few- but this spring we wound up with about 8 volunteer pumpkin vines- growing in the corner of the ram pen they'd chosen for the primary "deposits".  Enough sheep poo there that all the grass was buried, and killed- meaning no weeding for us in the early growing - and truly fabulous fertility.  Boy those were healthy vines.  And boy did we get gorgeous pumpkins.

Top view of mine; notice how thick the walls are-the deck boards are 6 inches wide.
 Their genetics all came through; color, size, handle- but ours are all better than their parents, I would bet entirely due to the sheep fertilizer.  The biggest difference- the sheep pumpkins are heavy- and it's not water; its the thickness of the walls.  Which is where the food is.

I love these pumpkins.  We aren't going to count on the same lucky phenomenon this coming season, though if it happens, we'll be delighted.  We're also saving seed, and we'll get some planted on our own.  Maybe we'll run a competition with the rams.