Just as the death of a cherished ewe causes sorrow, the birth of new lambs are the bright spot of the year. Generally, for the breed of sheep we raise, this occurs primarily in February and March, which is generally when the weather starts to improve. This lambing season has begun well for us, so far three ewe lambs and only one ram lamb. More importantly, the mother ewes have been among our strongest and youngest animals, which give the lambs the best shot of a problem free “lambhood”. This is also of tremendous value for the shepherd as it relieves the necessity of close monitoring and hand feeding, which often accompanies the birth of a lamb to an older ewe.
Rarely does the death of a sheep cause more than distraction
during the day, sadness for the lost life, but mostly due to the loss of a
productive animal and a nuisance having to bury the animal. We generally place
a higher value to the life and well being of our ewes, they are not only our
greatest resource, lambs, but they are generally tamer and friendlier, less of
a burden to maintain and care for. Over the years that we have raised sheep,
there have been a few that have stood out, while I am very familiar with all of
them, knowing their personalities and habits, a few have found a special place
within the herd. One such animal was a ewe that we have owned for over 11
years, a very productive animal, and mother of several other productive ewes. She
came to us early in our ranching, one of four ewes we bought from a couple
outside of Flagstaff.
She was a spooky little lady for the first few years, but shortly after we
started to shear our own sheep she came to be a little more trusting, knowing
that we didn’t have any desire to harm her. We think it is important that you
shear your own animals if at all possible, while they do not like it, it does
help building trust between and animal and a shepard. If you hire out the work
it is far more difficult to develop a relationship with an animal. Simply put,
sheep are not stupid, they are often incredibly intelligent, – I have found
them more intelligent than many people I deal with… while they are suspicious
of any human presence, the more contact you have with them lessens the fear
they have, at least if you are deliberate in your dealings with them. One
stupid act can undo a week of kindness, but over time, once trust is created,
they can be very tame and friendly. At least it is possible with most ewes, –
some are impossible to reach and this is surely because of past mistakes in
your behavior as a shepard (sheep do not forget or forgive easily).
Our Recent Experience with Portable Propane Heaters
Whether you live in a city or remotely, there is often a time where a reliable space heater comes in handy, – arguably, when its cold enough and your main heat source is not enough or not working, it becomes a device that can make an unpleasant day bearable. When you live in the wilderness and a long way from a hardware or department store, it is a good idea to have a space heater before you need one, because when you live remote, your options are more limited and supply is often exhausted when a storm approaches, – not to mention, if you live as far out as we do, you have dirt roads that easily become impassable or at least unpleasant during snow and rain storms.
Due to some recent experiences with new space heaters, I thought our experiences with two brands may be worth examining. We had a Mr. Heater Big Buddy that we bought last February (2018), mostly on a whim due to a clearance sale at our local Wal-Mart, we used it a few times and found it a little finicky, sometimes difficult to start, but generally pretty reliable. It being so late in the season, we didn’t have much time to evaluate it last year.
This season, which began in late October 2018, we promptly learned that what began as fussiness and a tendency to be difficult to light became a tedious challenge to light and keep it lit. I am not sure what the problem was, but I tend to think it was the carbon monoxide safety switch or valve, perhaps set too sensitive. After a month long series of exchanges with Mr. Heater customer service, who were always pleasant enough (if you could get them on the phone), we sent our “Big Buddy” back and once it arrived at their address, they promptly sent a replacement. The current replacement works flawlessly for the last two months, very reliable and pretty darn handy with our rather harsh winter this year. So far we have zero complaints with the replacement (same model).