Saturday, November 26, 2011

Autumn Returns

A heavy snow fell the weekend before Thanksgiving and made us all believe that winter had come to stay. The Tech XC trails were groomed and David and Marja went skiing, and I put the plow on my truck to open our driveway. But then the wind began to blow from the south...and by Thanksgiving morning only a thin layer remained.

The turkey fresh out of the oven, baked to a golden-brown perfection....

Actually Marja complained that it was overdone, but that's the way women are - never satisfied with their own cooking.

Part of the Thanksgiving dinner spread...all delicious. Regretably, once we started eating no one thought to take any pictures. Nine of us sat till bordet (at the table for those who inte forstar svenska), including M&D, D&J, G&G, C&C and A special guest from Germany Sebastian. Carl kicked off the annual table hockey season with a win over Sebastian, who was new to the sport, and finished 1-2 for the day. He was unable to prove the controversial theory that reflexes improve with age, something for which I found no supporting evidence in my own pathetic match against Jonathan.

Heini enjoying her special Thanksgiving treat - a deer leg.

The sheep enjoying good hay from their new feeder. Sheep are very wasteful animals. Once they have trodden over hay they consider it impalatable. The feeder has a shelf that catches loose hay and discourages sheep from stepping on it.

Black Friday. Almost all the snow has melted, and Marja harvested the remaining rutabagas from the garden. Most will be fed to the sheep, which now appreciate a little variety in their hay diet.

Saturday dawned gray, foggy and drizzling - an ideal day to burn the brush pile.

City children have to burn down abandoned buildings in order satisfy their innate urge to play with fire. Here in the country we have opportunities to do it safely without causing property damage.

There is something about fire that fascinates us all. When was the last time you saw a burning building that didn't attract a crowd?

Sheep take a more measured approach. They watched it for a little while, but then got back to the business of their lives, eating and chewing their cud. Sheep attend to their own business very well, and are not quick to run to the fence to view every novelty and aberration that comes down the pike. There is very little on television that would interest a sheep.

I started the fire in the middle of the brush pile. The wind was blowing from the north, and a couple of spruce trees stood rather near to the the north end of the pile, just to the left of the photo. I wanted the fire to spread slowly against the wind so that it wouldn't erupt in a tall sheet of wind-driven flame that could possibly ignite those trees. Fire makes a good servant, but a bad master. Ultimately all our technology is an expression of our attempt to harness fire, but our violent world testifies to the fact that we have not truly learned how to control it yet. Our tools, sadly, are much better than we are.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hunting Season

To be a successful deer hunter you should be out at your stand well before this moment. Of course defining "success" is a subjective matter; hunting deer and shooting deer are not necessarily synonymous. (That of course is pure B.S.; anyone telling you so is just a poor hunter.)

The pups enjoy hunting smaller game. A chipmunk under a snow covered rockpile enjoys decided advantages, but the dogs dig and snuff with enthusiasm that would put many a discouraged deer hunter to shame.

Fortunately, David potted a nice spikehorn and saved the family from ignominy of having three hunting licenses and no venison. Johnny and I continue to hunt, but now the pressure is off. If either of us gets another deer, hunting season will officially end, for the freezer will have reached its capacity.

Deer aren't the only animals that go into rut in November. We have had to keep our ewes separate from our ram, but now that the snow has come it was time to take down the electric netting and move the ewes into the winter yard.

Sorry Gunnar. He has to endure one more week of isolation before he can begin charming the ladies. He greeted them with tender kisses though, pledges of his ardor and undying affection. They seemed quite interested and happy to be near him again.

Patience lad, your day is coming. Lately Gunnar has shown an aggressive side we didn't see during the summer. He tried to butt Johnny the other day. I've taken the proactive approach and tap his horns with a heavy stick when I've enter his pen just to remind him not to get any foolish ideas. I've also do not turn my back on him. My sore knees are approaching full recovery, but I have no desire to test their durability against a charging ram.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


November is a month of abrupt changes. An autumn evening...

...can be followed by a winter morning.

De-worming Sigrid. We enticed the ewes into the pen with a fork of hay. The books recommend de-worming sheep right at the beginning of winter since the eggs cannot survive the cold.

Gunnar getting his syringeful of Ivermectin. His horns make good handles.

The first snow has melted. Grandpa making his daily visit with the sheep and dogs.

The apples on this tree are still very firm and quite tart, despite numerous frosts. I suspect they will keep a long time in the basement.

We have begun feeding hay to the sheep. In another week we will put the ewes in the winter pen with Gunnar and let nature take its course.

Much to my pleasant surprise, the sheep eat hay like it was candy. I admire an animal that can live on grass.

Off in pursuit of the fleet-footed hind. I've seen a lot of does so far, but no horns.