Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring Sunshine and Showers

I must beg forgiveness for my long absence. So many things have taken place since I last posted, I will touch on several today, then plan to post often until I get caught up. As the weather improves and outdoor work increases, it may become much harder to keep up with the posts, but I promisse to do my best!
Spring has certainly sprung, although the weather has turned off cold again. I took this picture of a daffodil out in the front yard this afternoon, hoping it would show the snowflakes falling down, but none of the snow stuck and the focus didn't allow for the falling flakes. I wasn't able to get outside during the heavy part of the snow flurry, but according to the forecast, I may still have another chance! We have had a chilly spring, but it is very unusual for us to get snow at this time of the year.

The cows returned to the high pasture this week and this calf didn't waste any time rubbing his head on one of the dirt banks. I am not sure why the cows seem to get such a lot of pleasure from beating up the hillsides. I used to think it was to keep the bugs off, but there aren't any flies out yet, so there went that theory. Cattle behavior can be quite interesting. Whenever the cows are in the low pasture which is a large, flat pasture with few hiding places, they tend to take turns babysitting, and seem to be comforatable leaving their calves behind while they go off to feed or water. One cow will stay with a group of calves and I have seen them babysitting up to 10 calves at a time. This behavior occurs much less frequently in the high pasture which is a maze of canyons and plateaus. The cows tend to keep each of their own calves by their sides and are more watchful for dangers when they are amongst these wilder places.

The sheep are anxious to head toward the high pasture every morning also. There is still one ewe left to lamb. I thought she would be one of the first to lamb as Jim was terribly interested in her right after he joined the girls, and she has always been a reliable early lamber, so I am not sure what happened. She was Jordan's first ewe and a bummer lamb, so even if she doesn't lamb, we will keep her, but we will be culling a couple of the ewes this year and replacing them with some of the nice ewe lambs. We actually had a very nice crop of lambs this year and will be keeping most of the ewe lambs in order to increase the flock.

It is fun to watch the woolies climb this hill, but even more of a kick to watch them barrel down it in the evening on the way back to the safety of the sheep pen. I really love watching the lambs jump and frolic and butt each other as they tumble over the hillsides.

The feed is good up here on top. This is a former wheat field left fallow for this year and the volunteer wheat makes for nutritious spring feed. This field has a double track running through it deep enough that all the years of plowing and working the field has not removed the road. It is probably a wagon track and may be an offshoot of the Oregon Trail as the house and barn were built around 1865. It is fun to walk it and imagine what it must have felt like to have followed the Umatilla River up on the dry bluffs for miles and finally be dropping down into a green valley with access to the good, sweet water and plenty of room to make camp.

Until next time, Happy Trails to you and may the spring sun shine warm upon your face.