Counting Sheep

I confess, I’m a “counter”. I take the dogs out and go “1-2-3,” or I will say, “black, brown, blonde, good, I have them all”. It was easier with the kids, since I only had two, it was more a matter of making sure they were still WITH me – Gus, I’m referring to you!! 🙂

I count the pupae as I separated them from the meal worms and the beetles that “hatch” every day as I put them in their drawers and get super excited when I get NINE new beetles in one day!! I know- it’s ridiculous. In the afternoon, prior to the “killing hour” (the hour before dusk when fox, raccoons and other predators are out looking for an easy meal) I round my chickens up and lock them into their coop for the night. And of course I count! I have to make sure I have all 8 of them as one of them, Eagle, has a tendency to wander off by herself. I’m resigned to the fact that I eventually might lose someone to a hawk or predator, but it won’t be for the lack of trying. My hens are all moving targets and not always easy to count- I do go in after closing their door from the outside and “re-count” from inside the garage to make absolutely sure.

Having converted the coal shed that was attached to the garage into the chicken coop has some great advantages! Especially in wet or cold weather. Putting some corn or other treats in their feeder makes them stay temporarily in place for an accurate count.

I am blessed with a view down into the sheep’s pasture from my kitchen and bedroom windows, as well as from my deck and I do the same thing. I count them. A few weeks ago as I routinely glanced out, I found myself counting 1,2,3,4….5,6,7..WHAT??? But I only have 4 sheep?! I recounted.. same number. The silly thoughts that go through your brain in lightning speed.. “Did someone actually drop 3 sheep off into my pasture?” “Did they clone themselves?” “Have mature babies?” LOL. I ran out onto the deck for a clearer view and soon realized that although they were moving around I did not miscount, there were indeed 7 blond woolly four-legged creatures in the pasture.

My pigs- the Mangalitsas who are often called “the pig that look like a sheep and act like a dog” had torn down just enough of the wall between them in their “shig shack” and were having a grand time in the sheep pasture!

The agility and speed and the joy with which a pig moves always astounds me- and it makes me sad since it seems the pig “experts” have missed this fact. While researching the amount of space a pig needs, I turned to the AG extension office where it was written that pigs are pretty docile and don’t need much more that 8 sq feet. Excuse me?? Yes, you can put a child in a crib and keep them there, but they won’t do very well if they never get out. Pigs are smart and sensitive and JUST like a two year old. They farrow (have babies) well together and nurse each other’s piglets. They form bonds with each other and help each other out mothering. The big commercial pig breeders try to make us believe it’s in the pigs best interest to live their life separated by bars from their piglets, with no room to turn around. Living their life standing on slanting concrete slabs that gives them arthritis. They separate mother and piglets after three weeks so that they can breed mom back as soon as possible. They live in a stench that is so bad the pigs need constant antibiotics to stay “healthy”. Not the kind of pork chops I want to eat. And what’s worse- these are NOT happy pigs. If you want to see happy pigs… go to a farm that raises them out in a pasture. THOSE are happy pigs. -Ok- I’m climbing off my soap box now.

In all the commotion dealing with the break out king and queens the sheep who didn’t miss a trick loudly complained about being the only ones not getting an extra treat, so of course they got some extra TLC as well!

The shig-shack has now become just the pig shack and we separated Otto and the girls. The wall between them has been properly reinforced so Otto can’t get in to the girls- no teenage moms here if we can prevent it! The sheep got their own run in- now complete with a lambing jug in time for our pending births.

After all this- I still count sheep. Now eagerly waiting to actually be adding the 5,6 and 7 once the new lambs arrive!!

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