While tossing the last of the windfall apples into the sheep field on Thursday, I had to smile. My ewes now know to line up when I start scouring the ground under the apple trees that are outside their field. They shuffle each other out of the way, grunting and throwing mini sheep-tantrums (they literally jump right up into the air and then STOMP as hard as they can on the ground - all four feet - it's omgSOcute). I can run my eyes across them and gauge their condition (OH they are fat). I can watch the way they interact to know who is the boss today (it changes daily!) and I can spot a runny nose from across the yard.
I have spent the last year learning many things about Icelandic sheep. A lot of these lessons have been hard. I lost poor Ingrid to "grass tetany" or magnesium deficiency in spring. Her darling little lamb, Brighid, bounced back quickly and after a few bottles of warm local goat milk she had decided to wean herself. Brighid grew very close to my other ewe, Gertrude, after her mother's death.
Unfortunately this fall, after a very long, hot summer, Gertrude succumbed to all sorts of complications of white muscle disease (WMD). She hung on for so long and tried so long and taught me so much in the time that she was ill. I have never had to learn so quickly about animal supplements, shots, treatments... and I've never seen an animal fight so hard to live. She was incredibly inspiring.
After that, Brighid was introduced to her two new sisters, Blaire and Nance, who were a little rough with her at first but these days Brighid and Blaire are totally inseparable.
Of course, there have been fantastic moments as well. When Gertrude was around, my heart would leap every time she ran up to me for treats. She was a special sheep with a great personality. There was also Brighid's birth, which I actually got to see! Little itty bitty Brighid nose, poking out... aww... I remember running to the house to get Jeremy and by the time I got back to the barn, Brighy was standing and bleating her first little bleats... Of course, I cried a little from relief. :)
So here I am, a year later, with entirely different ewes and all the mileage and lessons of a year tucked neatly, albeit slightly emotionally, behind me. What better way to celebrate? Playing with fiber!
You can find my wet felting tutorial over at Not Dabbling in Normal!
Do you have any awesome fibery ideas? To celebrate, I have 4 ounces of fuzzy warm Icelandic fleece looking for a new home! (Forgive me, this is my first giveaway!)
Update: We have a winner! Our winner is #6 - Kelly H, who said "I'm a knitter, and wannabe spinner, so I'd be using your lovely wool to learn how. I'd also use some to needle-felt fix a small hole in my favouritest sweater that a moth found last year. We're going to be educating ourselves on sheep farming this winter, with big dreams in mind. What made you decide on Icelandics?"
Congratulations! Be sure to check back for additional giveaways this winter. I've got at least three, maybe four lined up and they're all going to be awesome! (I may do a few more fiber giveaways as I destash some of the bags of fuzz I have amassing in my house!)