News Letter: Fall, 1999

It's a cold northwest wind that brings in Fall. It seems its in the nineties one day, then a heavy snow the next, and suddenly the days are much shorter and the night seems to last forever. I would have to say, Fall isn't my favorite time. While it is the breeding season, its hard to maintain that "hopefull expectation of good things to come" for another five months before actual lambing commences.

Focusing on a brighter bit... We do live close enough to the Rocky Mountain National Park to make an early morning trip to see the elk and the aspen. The Fall rut of the elk corresponds with our own flock's cycle and so I always feel as if we really are a part of the larger plan that goes on all around us. So much of what domestic sheep have become is due to human intervention in the gene pool over thousands of years, and yet inspite of that, there is "no fooling Mother Nature".

We started off in September with the usual Fall snow storm, but then what followed was an entire month of November with no precipitation in any form and temperatures in the sixties and seventies...a true "Indian Summer". This made for out of season forest fires (fortunately, not at our house) and extremely dry pastures that have not and will not recover now.

The sheep are not fond of the snow and wind either. They are always dismayed to find that the snow is not only in their pens, but everywhere else as well. The wind is always worse than they think it will be, once they have left the shelter of the barn. The pastures are just not as they remember them yesterday. The noisy discussions sound cranky and disappointed... nobody really wants to go out, once they have seen its like this all over the farm... AND "why don't I fix this!" (Surely I'm in charge and this is all my doing!) ... "We can't be expected to eat all of this snow!"

This time of year the sheep are fed grass hay in the morning and then in the evening. Nobody is made to suffer and in fact,(not unlike myself) tend to put on weight this time of year. It's a time for the sheep to put on condition before Winter really sets in, and lambing begins in the Spring.

The old gummers are put onto additional grain and alfalfa pellets to see if they can make it through another Winter.

I don't want this to sound too much like boasting, but I guess that's what it is. I entered one of my Soumak tapestries in the Fine Arts Competition at the Colorado State Fair, along with our usual fleece entries in the Wool Show.

The tapestry "Mountain and Table Land" won the weaving "Juror's Choice Award": a lovely, big ribbon and a $500.00 dollar prize! I promptly spent the winnings on two new "porta-pig-huts" and fencing so that the rams would have a better place to be... a little further away from the ewes.

The fleeces also did well. Daniel had the Champion Black Ram, Winter the Champion Black Ewe, Molly the Reserve Champion Black Ewe, and Jack the Reserve Champion White Ram Fleece.

In closing, I thought I would leave you with a photo of our Fall sky here on the farm. The days have grown shorter, the nights colder, and the wind seems to never stop now. We need to spend some more time cutting firewood... yet another of our many hobbies.

All too soon Fall gets lost in Winter. That means Christmas and all of its attendant frantic rushing. We want to wish you and yours a peaceful Winter season and a new year full of brightness and joy... from all of us here at the farm.

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