Monday, May 01, 2006

Good times, bad times

Today's post is brought to you by the fine folks at Maxflex. No, not really, but it might as well be, because we are thrilled to bits with our portable electric mesh fence. And Cordele and Ila, although somewhat baffled by the Unknown Thing That Keeps Shocking Them, are glad to have the freedom and the fresh grass.

We really like having the sheep around. They're beautiful creatures with nice personalities. They're very scaredy--think Watership Down on hooves--but on the other hand, they've started associating my presence with food, which makes them much more affectionate than they were at first.

The sheep have an appointment Thursday morning with a large-animal veterinarian, partly just for a checkup and partly because they're being harrassed by flies that might be nose bots (okay, here's a link, but when you find out what they are, you'll want to scrub your brain to get the information back out). The vet is the same one who works with Green #8's flock. Sheep are pretty much unknown around here, but this vet seems to be eager to work with more of them and increase his knowledge.

Our Pakistani neighbor who has a large flock of goats came to visit. He brought his stepson. He and the s.o. talked about electric fences and ruminants for quite a while, and our neighbor won the "first human to be zapped by our electric fence" prize. It was pretty funny. I consider it a rite of passage, sort of like breaking a bottle on the front of a ship.

We do have some very bad news. Last night the s.o. checked the beehives, and there is not nearly as much progress as we thought there would be. There's no brood yet. And since bees have a lifespan of about 40 days, the clock is ticking. We have a feeling that the colonies may be doomed and we'll have to start all over again. Worst of all, I think it may be my stupid fault for not feeding them enough. The bees emptied the quart-jar feeders really quickly every time I put them out. I tried to keep up, but I couldn't always. I should have gotten some hive-top feeders and poured in gallons at a time. But I just didn't know, and now there are consequences.

This led to a lot of glumness (the s.o.) and tears (me) last night. Now I am just disgusted with myself. It's a big confidence killer--I keep thinking, if I've screwed this up, what about all the other animals that will be depending on me? But I need to stay rational and just keep doing the best I can. In the meantime, our beekeeper friend is coming to visit on Wednesday. Maybe there is still something we can do.

Anyway, I am feeling very delicate about the bee situation and would rather not rehash it. So can we talk about sheep instead? Thanks.