Good news and bad news:
Best and wonderful news for me is that my sister, Dr. Wendy Barker, is coming to do a reading for her new book, Nothing Between Us, this Thursday night at UW. (Come one come all!) Her book has not a darn thing to do with dogs, but it’s pure and simply brilliant and I can’t wait for her reading. (For those of you who are interested in a novel in “prose/poetry” form about a multi-racial affair and life in the 60’s in Berkeley, California, the talk is in Helen C. White, Room 66191, 7 pm, Thursday the 29th). Full disclosure: Yup, she is my sister and so my objectivity might be a tad, uh, challenged? But I’m not the only one raving about this book… everyone I know who has read it loves it…
Sad news is about the farm. It might sound strange, but I have to have my silo taken down this Friday, and I’m grieving the loss. It’s stands as a wonderful bridge to the past, and as a structure that adds complexity and depth to the farm. I’ve let ivy grow up it and in summer it’s quite the picture. However, it has to go. The huge storm we had a few weeks ago undermined it’s foundation, and either it comes down in a controlled way, or it comes down sometime in the future on its own. It could land on the barn, on the sheep or on Willie. None of those things are likely, but then, how much of life actually turns out to be? In addition, there is now about 2-3 feet of air, instead of ground, on one side, the side that all of us walk by several times a day. If an animal fell in, they’d slide down to the bottom of the empty silo, about 15-12 feet, and it would end up one of those feature stories on the local news, in which 3 fire departments spend all day rescuing a trapped dog/cat/raccoon while the owner stands in the background wringing her hands. We have the hole covered with plywood and straw bales right now (in back of the silo, out of sight in this photo) . . . but still. Stuff happens. Here how it looked this morning after taking the sheep up the hill . . .
Here’s a good addition to the farm: The fence in the foreground in the photo below is a new portable, electric fence. It will allow us to make much better use of the pasture, by doing controlled grazing and forcing the sheep to eat in the areas that they tend to avoid. Right now they are in an area that they usually avoid because although it has great grass, it’s in a dip between the woods and a slight hill to the right. That makes them less able to spot danger from a distance, and even on little farms they are predisposed to spend their time where it is safest. Also, they like to graze uphill (less work on their necks) and because of that they always end up overgrazing the top of the hill and wasting good grass in other areas. With 9 adults and 19 lambs, I need all the pasture I can get this year.
Of course, electric fences like this have their disadvantages: If they turn off an animal can get a head stuck and, worst case, die, they are labor intensive and they don’t work as well if it’s super dry and hard to get the stakes and the ground rod into the ground. My biggest worry isn’t any of the above though: it’s that Willie gets hit by the fence when he’s close to me, and associates it with me, or with working sheep. At some point he’s just going to have to learn, but I have to think about how to set it up so that it happens without him making the wrong association. Meanwhile, all is peaceful now!