Saturday, June 19, 2010

Everything is under control here

I spent the day doing farm chores. My sheep are currently grazing on the town field surrounding the "little red schoolhouse". This is a historical one room school maintained by the Tyngsboro Dunstable historical society, a lovely setting used for a variety of town functions. On the edge of this land is the town pound, a small pen with 5 foot high stone walls and a narrow gate. This is where loose animals were put in colonial times to wait till they were retreived by their owner. The pound fills with brush and poison ivy, so each year I put my sheep in there for a day to clean it out. Today was the day. I got up there at 7AM, made a small pen with temporary net fence so I could catch Boogaloo the llama. This llama is not very trusting of people and quite difficult to catch. It takes patience and a small pen. Once I caught him I put him in my trailer, then took the sheep out of the fencing and called the police to come stop traffic for me. The gate to the pound is 2 feet from very busy Route 113 so I need traffic stopped to move the animals in and out. Once traffic was stopped I moved the sheep into the pound, then brought the llama in as well. All went smooth as silk. After a couple hours mowing, moving the temporary fence, and setting up the next grazing area for the sheep I checked the progress of the sheep in the pound. Not good, they really were not eating down the brush quickly. I decided to add the yearlings, who were pastured a couple miles away. I still had the trailer hitched so I picked them up and brought them to the pound around noon. Song moved them in neatly despite the three new sheep being a bit wild and not sticking with the flock. Again, the police stopped traffic so I could move the stock on the road safely.

I went to get the sheep out around 8 this evening. I had their next paddock all ready for them, fenced, nice full water tub, full salt mineral feeder, and deep clover to dine on. My plan was to wait till the police arrived, then go catch the llama and lead him out while the dog brought the sheep. I had left Boogaloo's halter on which makes catching him easier. Hah! At moments like this you realize that this is not simply a llama, but rather a f#$*%*ing llama! I was not going to spend 20 minutes trying to clip a rope on the llama while the policeman was waiting. I decided the brute would follow the sheep anyway, so I gave up on catching him and sent Song in to gather the sheep out. I backed into the road, ready to lead the sheep to their next graze. There were quite a few animals in the pound, and the gate is very narrow with a drop to the road. It took a bit for Song to get them all out. While she was in the back pushing them out, the front sheep were out the gate and turning up the road in the wrong direction. There was not much I could do with the dog still behind 20 or so sheep in the high walled pen. By the time Song emerged from the pen after the last sheep the front sheep were high tailing it up the middle of the road for the next town. The llama was running with them. They veered into a retail yard for a business that sells stone, weaving in and out of the pallets and piles of various rocks. They were putting on quite a show for the line of stopped traffic.

As soon as Song got out of the pound I sent her fast for the breaking sheep. The ewes and lambs had spread about in the stone yard, and it took some work to get them back out. The sheep were darting this way and that and Song was rather enjoying herself working too close and too fast, which was not helping. I got Song settled and she quickly had the group back together and marching in my direction. The llama (the f#$*%*ing llama) was nowhere to be seen. I calmly commanded my dog, bringing the sheep back along 113 towards the opening to the school house, pretending I had a plan. My mind was racing. No llama, no llama, no llama... This is a llama I can barely catch in a small pen. No way he'd be caught loose. If he did not show up I'd need to bring the sheep back up the road to try to get him to join up. Cars were already backed up quite a ways in the short time since the policeman stopped traffic.

Just as the last couple sheep turned into the the school house drive, the llama came racing out from behind the wall for the stone yard. He was looking about wildly for his sheep, whimpering and humming as upset llamas do. Fortunately he saw the last couple wooly butts disappear into the school house drive. He galloped down 113 after his sheep like Derby contender, skidding on the pavement as he turned into the drive right in front of the cruiser. If my llama runs into a police cruiser do I have to pay for the damage?

Fortunately the llama decided that the minute or so his sheep were out of sight was more than enough separation. He stuck right with the flock as I moved them into their waiting paddock. Once everything was under control I did admit to the officer that the process had been a bit more exciting than I had planned!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Empty Chairs

The latest NEBCA News is out. It has a piece on my dog Cato, who I lost in January. The piece included a photo of Cato, laying in my double folding chair at a trial. Beside that chair was the very empty chair of my very dear friend Darlene Hutchins, who died of pancreatic cancer in September, leaving us with only memories of her infectious laughter.

I sent the link to a couple other friends who were close to Darlene, but not likely to see the NEBCA News. Both were hit as hard as I was by the image of that familiar chair, without the familiar face and smile that go with it.

Brenda Buja commented...
"Empty chairs...someday ours will be empty too! Enjoy what you can, eh??"

It is a sentiment to remember. Enjoy your life. Enjoy and cherish your friends, your family, your dogs. Darlene met life with humor and a grin. She blessed herself and those around her with joy. Her chair is empty. Our hearts are full.