Tuesday, June 30, 2009


They're finally here. Last Friday, as you probably know, I set out for Southern Missouri to pick up my five babydoll sheep. We had been having a pretty severe heat wave and the temperature where I was headed was expected to be over 100 degrees by Friday afternoon and at least that hot on Saturday. I'd considered a few alternatives including getting up super early on Saturday and driving down there, and turning around and coming right back. That seemed like a bad idea. Then, I figured I'd leave in the early afternoon, and just stay in a hotel close to my destination. Kristin, the woman who raises the sheep offered to let me spend the night with them on Friday so I could get an early start back on Saturday. This worked out the best because I would be driving in relatively cooler weather for much of the trip, and I'd get back to Iowa early enough in the day to spend the afternoon with the sheep, helping them get settled in.

I took off around noon on Friday and before I'd even gotten out of Monroe County, the Check Engine light came on in the truck. This has been happening intermittently and we can't seem to figure out why. I considered turning around for about a tenth of a second, and then decided to keep going. It stayed on the entire time. Just to be safe, I figured I would go easy on the truck, not go over 60 and not run the air. Yes, you heard me. I did not run the air the entire trip. By 4:00 on Friday, I was just outside of Jefferson City, Missouri and the thermometer on my rear view mirror indicated that it was 98 degrees. I reached Kristin's farm, just outside of Springfield by 6:45. She and her family had rounded up the sheep already, the entire flock, and separated out the five that were going home with me. She gave me a quick lesson on trimming their hooves, giving them their annual vaccine injections, and worming them. I then got a quick tour of their vineyard and we headed inside, out of the heat, and spent some time talking grapes, wine, various viticulture practices, the merits of organic certification and so forth. I was asleep by 10:00 and up by 5:15.

We loaded the sheep into the box and I latched the door, and was back on the road by 6:30. I had gassed up the truck the night before so I wouldn't have to stop more than once, and I headed back toward home. The trip down was 340 miles so I knew if I fueled up after about 150 miles I could check on the sheep, refill their water bucket, and do all of this before it got too hot. I calculated that I'd be able to drive the rest of the way straight through without having to stop again. I figured that would be the easiest on the sheep because as long as we were moving, the breeze would help, even if it got back into the upper 90s again.

I had originally planned to bring home three lambs but Kristin had a yearling wether and an infertile ewe that she offered me a great deal on, so I took them too. It's probably going to work out better than the original plan because these lambs are very skittish and take their cues from the adult sheep. The ewe, "Jill" is very sweet and warmed up to me pretty quickly, with the help of some grain. The little yearling wether (a neutered male) is pretty comfortable eating out of my hand and letting me scratch his chin, but thus far the lambs are not quite sure about us. It will take a little time I guess.

I got home around 1:00 and Greg had been working all day on the fence, and setting up a temporary pen for them. We used a piece of plywood and some 2 x 4s to make a ramp, and after much coaxing, the sheep ran/slid one at a time down the ramp and into the pen. They settled in quickly and started munching the grass in the pen. Greg and I spent the rest of the afternoon making a larger enclosure for them within their big pasture so they would have a safe place at night until the dog gets here. That should be sometime this week.

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