Several weeks ago this black snake crossed my path.
Black snakes are omens of good fortune. Like most good fortune, they are inconspicuous and rare. So, when a specimen presents itself, it behooves one to take notice. I was able to capture the last half of this mysterious and dignified being, as it undulated into reaches unknown. The perplexing question left behind was, what is the beneficial news it portends?
Well, it didn't take long to find the answer. Several days later, nephew Lawson asked whether he might stop by the farm with dear-friend Josie, for a day, on May 31. That happened to be the day we sort and ear-tag lambs, and "band" the boys. Doing so requires a good bit of bending over in warm temperatures and handling of frisky lambs. After several hours, in one's later years, one is rather expended. So, the prospect of a helping hand at this precise moment felt indeed like fortune found. And it was, not only because of two additional strong backs, but because of two exceptional souls of character, with whom the privileges of good work and good company were shared.
Here we were this morning: Kathy and Josie loading eartaggers and banders, while Lawson and I gathered lambs for eartagging and banding. With two extra willing hands, we finished in an hour and a half - 108 lambs from 95 ewes. This is a slightly lower yield than last year, but we had 25 yearling ewes in the flock, who are not as experienced at mothering as their compatriots. Pasture-lambing is a delicate process, which requires attentiveness. New mothers are not always as attentive as some, stranding newborns to precarious fate. They will do better in years ahead.
After a hearty lunch of shortrib burgers, we headed to the fields to prepare the ewes' and lambs' first paddock, now that birthing is formally completed. Preparing the paddock entailed breaking out our new Wright mower and mowing beneath woven-wire fences installed over the winter, to contain the flock. We mow beneath to keep fencelines clear and a low-lying hot-wire hot. This is an experiment for containing sheep, which will no doubt meet with only partial success. Below Lawson and Josie are plugging unruly depressions in the ground with sections of hog-panels, to deter opportunistic sheep from sneaking underneath - their preferred method of annoying the shepherd.
Shortrib Burgers below make for perhaps the best burger one can savor.
May the black snake cross your path, bringing fortune to you by visitation from two beautiful souls, as it did to us today.