Viola is one of our first sheep, which means she is about nine years old now. Viola is a Jacob. We got her from Cold Valley Farm, originally. She has been a very good producer for us, both of wool and lambs. I only want to sell her because she had a bad case of poison parsnip on her head last year, and I would like to sell her to a farm that does not have a lot of poison parsnip. Sadly, we really have a lot of that terrible weed!
Right now, Viola has a ram lamb that is four days old, the product of Viola and a Ram who was half Jacob, Half Corriedale. The ram was black and had four horns and very thick, black wool. This little ram will very likely have big horns and very thick, long, soft wool.
She has a sweet temperament and is more approachable than most Jacobs I have known. Her offspring have inherited that temperament. Her two grown ram lambs let me pet their noses through the fence sometimes.
Her wool is just lovely.
Asking $250 for the pair. Located in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
I’ve been waking up at the crack of dawn to feed the little bottle lamb in the barn. Then the puppy, Mike Vivaldi, always wants to go for a walk. I took him along this morning to check and see if any lambs were born in the night.
Not quite… But Mimi was on the ground, moaning. Mike and I went into the pen and I could see a little mouth and a big red tongue sticking out of her lady sheep parts (technical language). As we approached, Mimi got up and ran! She obviously needed help, but she was going to be difficult about it.
I tied up Mike to a fence post, because he is not yet skilled in the arts of shepherding and lamb doulaing (though I expect great things from him, someday). After some awkward running and dodging other sheep, I caught her in a catch pen, stuck my hands up in her, grabbed those slippery slimy lamb legs and pulled out a most enormous ram lamb. She yelled. Pretty sure it didn’t feel that great! Then she just stood there and stared at that slimy, bloody ram on the ground with no recognition, like, “What the hell is that?”
And then I walked Mike Vivaldi back and drove my daughter to band practice. All before breakfast!
I left them penned up together for three hours, went back, and he was all fluffy. Mimi had cleaned him up. She was bonded to him, except when I put a lamb sweater on him, she didn’t seem to know who he was, suddenly, so I took the sweater off again. Fashion be damned. It’s supposed to rain tonight, but honestly, he looks pretty hearty.
I have been accepted to show my lovely wool sculptures next Friday, May 3 at the Jackie Macaulay Gallery, The Social Justice Center, 1202 Williamson Street, Madison. The opening is 5-9, though I’m not sure I will be there the entire time. This is Gallery night, where basically every place in Madison becomes an art gallery. It’s a good time for all.
If you’ve never been to the Social Justice Center, look for the big seventies-style mural of the social justice struggle on the side of the building.
I am mainly just showing my fun Wooly Heads of Whimsy. A few new ones will be unveiled on Friday night. Then, the pieces will stay up for the month of May.
I hope to see you there!
Jackie Macaulay Gallery, The Social Justice Center, 1202 Williamson Street, Madison
The new Birds in Beards, number 3: Weird Beards (Beards as Birds) is now available both as a paper book AND digitally!
You can run, but you can’t hide from the men with beards! They are everywhere you would normally see birds. Are you going crazy? Or are you just coloring the latest Birds in Beards Coloring Book by Shoshanah Marohn? Probably both.
I just finished the book, Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover. I was completely blown away by this story.
As a child, Westover was not permitted to go to school by her father, who would prefer her to work in his junkyard instead. Her parents did not believe in education or in modern medicine, but they believed strongly in the power of God. As a result, Westover and her six (I think?) siblings were were constantly exposed to terribly dangerous situations (God would protect them), and when they got injured, they were not taken to a doctor.
On top of all of that, one of Tara’s siblings became more and more violent towards her as they grew up. And her dad was constantly convinced that the end of the world was very, very near. They lived on a mountain in Idaho, where he probably still has stashes of food and gasoline underground.
I guess it’s not really a spoiler alert to say that Tara escaped all of this and became highly educated, eventually earning a PhD. But the story of how she got to that point is amazing. I recommend this book without reservation to everyone.
It’s time for another Birds in Beards Coloring Book! Weird Beards: Beards as Birds shows you what happens when every bird you see in your daily life turns into a bearded man. Kinda creepy, kinda pretty, always fun, this book was the brainchild of Patreon member Marilyn Reading. Thank you, Marilyn, for your wonderful ideas!
As you may or may not know, if you subscribe to my Patreon at the $25/ month level, you have the opportunity to contribute your ideas as to which book I should create next. So far, the ideas from the first three patrons have been extraordinary! The first, by patron Professor Batty, was Postcards from Joshua Tree, a book I would never have even considered writing. The second patron was Marilyn, who came up with every drawing in this new book, Weird Beards: Beards as Birds. She really has some crazy ideas! You should look! And the third patron, Heather, suggested the next book, which has yet to be written, but it will involve the inner emotional workings of Krampus, that famous Christmas Anti-Santa. I can’t wait to get started on it.
Do you have ideas that have lingered? Sign up for the Patreon. It’s a good thing.
We’ve had some weather here lately. Worried about the sheep last week, especially the ram lambs, who had no shelter, I tried to get them to go into the barn. But they would not go! I put treats in. I tried everything. So, that was frustrating.
So I drove the truck up the hill and go some straw bales from Gary, (“You think they might nibble on it?” he asked. “They might,” I said. “Yep. They might nibble on it some,” he said.) I trudged out into the ram pasture with my straw bales and my tarps (they don’t co-ed anymore, not after last year’s big surprises!) and I set up a quick shelter for our little rams, out of tarps and straw bales. It was already sub-zero when I did it, so the quality left something to be desired. But, it was good enough. It worked! Everyone survived the 2-3 days of -30 degrees. Huzzah!
(Incidentally, the temperature went up fifty degrees on Friday, and it was still below freezing! I thought that was funny.)
Afterwards, the shelter I had built looked pretty shabby. The sheep had started to eat the straw supports in the center of the lean-to. I climbed in and adjusted things. I added some ropes and tie downs. Yesterday, though, I deemed it unsuitable and decided that today I would dismantle it.
a snow storm.
I went out to see the sheep today. Many of them had not bothered to take shelter from the snowstorm, as was evident by their snowy fleeces.
I counted five dumb little rams, which made my heart pound quickly, as I’m supposed to have nine dumb little rams.
I thought perhaps the ram shelter had collapsed on some of them.
I ran (sort of, as best I could) down to the shelter that had been looking iffy, and sure enough, it was collapsed. Were the missing sheep inside, trapped?
I could see, through a little window in the shelter, something move. I couldn’t make out what. Kind of looked like a horn, though.
I dug and dug and pulled tarp away. It was covered with three inches of ice and a foot of snow on top of that. When I finally got it dug out- and cut away some ropes that were supposed to hold things up, but ended up getting in the way- I pulled the tarp back and discovered four healthy, annoyed little ram lambs.
That little wood wall on the left, which was supposed to make a good wind block, also served to completely trap the four little sheep inside when the roof partially collapsed. But they did have a “window,” a.k.a. a hole in the wall- so suffocation was never a danger. Look in the upper right part of the photo, and you can see the tarp caving in because it’s so full of snow. It was a soft cave-in. I just had ropes and straw bales holding things up. Part of the problem, I think, was that those silly lambs were munching on the supports (which were made of straw)(Gary warned me).
I know. I should have read The Three Little Pigs. Never make houses out of straw, right? But my options were limited. The ground was frozen.
I fixed it all up so this won’t happen again. Tomorrow, a different adventure will come, I’m sure.