Sunday, February 19, 2012

Speculating in the Futures Market

While driving to work Thursday morning it occurred to me that the county might be putting on their seasonal load restrictions for secondary roads soon, so I placed a call with my renewable fuels broker and he delivered  eleven cords of energy futures Saturday morning.  The load restrictions will be going on noon Monday, so exercising my futures option turned out to be a wise decision.

That same day we met with our stock brokers, John and Wendy to accept delivery of three shares of live stock with a futures option of a fourth.  We had lost a third of our ovine portfolio two weeks earlier in a bear (i.e. wolf) market, and wanted to replenish it.

The transaction consisted of a bred ewe, Lolly, that is expected to throw twins, possibly triplets, in April. I paid with a futures check, redeemable on my next payday.

Lolly pulls better than most sled dogs.

Gunnar welcomed the new flock addition with enthusiasm.

And, charming gentleman that he is, pursued her...

Round ...

and round...

and round and round and round.  Wendy had cautioned us that Lolly was a little frowzy looking because she had missed her normal fall shearing,  but she was a "10" in Gunnar's eyes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Sunday

Marja chopped up apples that we had picked from our own trees last summer and made pies from them.  We stored the apples in our basement which is quite cold.  The skins were a bit wrinkled, but the flesh was firm and delicious.  No pesticides on these apps.  No service fees, and free downloads with every slice.

Forty degrees and sunshine brought bees from their hives.  These are euphemistically termed "cleansing flights", as the bees leave their hives in order to relieve themselves. On a very warm afternoon the air will be filled with bees and the snow all around the hives will be yellow.  It's always amazing to see bees flying in winter, and I was encouraged to see activity in all three hives.  Hopefully, they will all make it to spring.

It was a beautiful afternoon to go snowshoeing through the swamp to the old beaver ponds, that are now just open meadows - until a family of beavers returns to rebuild the dam. 

Snowshoes and swamps go together hand in glove.  What in summer is a soggy slog through tangled undergrowth and tall grass becomes an easy stroll during the winter.  Not to mention the fact that there are no bugs during the winter.

Woolen bibs, otherwise known as the Minnesota tuxedo, are the most comfortable pants you can wear in the woods.  Wool is real.  Millions of sheep can't be wrong.

One of the old beaver dams along the creek.

Warm sunshine, hot coffee, a comfortable seat and a good book.  It doesn't get much better than this.

Green branches in sunshine, something you might take for granted if you live in a place where the sun shines year round. You probably can't  appreciate how much a sunny day means to those of us who experience sunlight starvation up here in the northern boondocks, so just take my word for it that we develop a real thirst for color during the cloudy gray times.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Sad Interlude

Friday afternoon  Marja called me and told me to come home right away.  Sigrid was outside the fence and the dogs were after her.  When I pulled into the yard, Marja was waiting on the path with a sad message, “Sigrid is dead.”
 My emotions were shock, grief and anger.  When I saw Kalevi feeding on the dead sheep I lashed out with adrenalin-charged rage.  Hearing Kalevi yelp, our other male dog, Savu, ran over and was immediately attacked by Kalevi.  When I began dragging Kalevi away by his hind legs, Savu kept attacking him.  I hollered and kicked and tried to break it up, but  it seemed like nothing I did had any effect on either one.  They simply wanted to kill each other.

Finally, after the dogs had bloodied themselves up and I had run out of anger, everyone began cooling down.

The day before Gunnar had butted this door and bent the flange somewhat which I had to bend back with a crowbar.  I was planning on putting a wooden crossbar to secure the door, but I didn’t think he would actually bend the dead bolt like he did.  I suspect once he opened the door he may have seen the dogs and stayed back.  The shed and the fence are within the dogs’ radio fence shock zone, so they keep their distance.  Unfortunately, Sigrid, our smaller ewe, decided that this was the day to explore outside the fence.
Marja got to the scene right before the dogs attacked.  She had gotten ahold of Kalevi’s collar, but he broke free.  All three dogs of our huskies attacked the sheep at once and there was nothing that Marja could do.  I feel badly that she had to see it, for it was due to my carelessness.  I should have secured that door better

Most of the blood you see is Kalevi's own.  Savu chewed up his face fairly well as I was dragging him away.  White dogs always look awful after a dogfight.  I know, because I've had six white huskies over the years.

I could have cheerfully shot all of my dogs at the moment I first saw this.  Anger is a powerful emotion, but we need to master it.   Blind rage can do terrible things, our ability to reason is severely hindered. My dogs were just obeying their basic predatory instincts.  I really cared for this sheep.  I was hoping that she would have a lamb in April, but my pets killed her.  Does that make them evil?  No, but it reminds us that animals are animals and we cannot expect them to behave contrary to their nature.  From what I have read, sheep are fascinated by open gates.  Dogs are fascinated by running sheep.  I need to keep my gates closed.

There is a deeper lesson to be drawn however.  We are all imperfect fallible human beings.  We do stupid things, we make dumb mistakes just like sheep.  We cannot undo the past, but we need to forgive ourselves, as we have been forgiven through Christ,  and go on.  We have a perverse habit of beating ourselves with our failures and reliving our mistakes with thoughts such as "If only I had done this, or hadn't done that.  Then this wouldn't have happened."  Has it ever occurred to you that it is just possible that God is greater than your mistakes?  Learn from it, put it behind you, and get on with your life.