Spring, as we know it, has not been kind to anyone this year.
At first, we had some nice, warm weeks but then the weather turned on us. Snow, sun, hailstorms, rain plus minus degrees during the nights. The poor birds that migrated here must not have known what to make of it all.
In the middle of all this ten little chicks arrived. Ten very surprised small birds that bob about in their mother's wake, thinking that they should have stayed in their warm cocoons just a tad longer. They started visiting their friendly neighbours the sheep as soon as their little wings carried their small, plump bodies, just for some extra warmth. The radiator is a popular spot for small gatherings, too.
Our four sheep were sheared very early this year, already at the beginning of May. This was for practical reasons, as our friendly sheep farmers had time to come out and help us. The other reason is, that with this odd weather we are forced to keep the stable warm and snug for the hens which can get too warm for the sheep. Their woolly jumpers are thick and probably slightly itchy after a long winter, so the "spring look" arrived early and they love it. So now everyone is ready for summer to arrive and we have minus four degrees in the nights.
This is not a normal springtime for plants, either. We have perennials growing in the flower beds that look like they have been kept in the refrigerator. They have slimy, limp leaves and seem to have stopped growing all together. They have not frozen their roots but from an esthetic point of view they have looked better. It took the grass forever to start growing but now there is enough greenery outside for the sheep to have got the spring back into their little, older legs. Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are ready to burst through the door, each morning, for some fresh, cold breakfast and they don't seem to mind the Arctic conditions at all. It must also feel so nice, being all light and bouncy after all that wool.
We decided that the shearing should be done from the ground, this time. No more climbing up on the shearing table and then secured. It was mostly me saying this as I don't like the impact the jumping down does to their knees. Or the fact that when they start messing about, they can seriously injure someone by knocking them over.
As I don't actually do much during the whole shearing process, it felt a bit wrong to change things, but it went well. The poor farmer had to spend a lot of the time kneeling on a cold stable floor but our dear sheep were as good as gold and very calm. I guess they felt safer on the ground and just stood enjoying it all. You really have to look hard, to find nicer animals than these four sheep. And, for that matter, funnier looking ones with their round tummies and large heads on top of spindly legs.
This was the year that we were supposed to look over the number of hens in the stable. The winter is long and with quite a few hens to feed and clean up after, it takes up a fair amount of time, each morning. All good intentions and all that. We now have eleven grown up hens, ten small chicks and Monty the cockerel, running around in the stable. That's a lot of feathery friends to look after, but what can we do? Monty still bobs about with a startled look on his little face, not knowing what's going on. Our dear sheep are happy though, "the more, the merrier" seems to be their motto, when it comes to hens. They stand stock still when they have tiny chicks visiting with a smile on their proud, beautiful faces which I find makes up for a lot of the cleaning.
Gardening will have to wait a bit but with everything else going on, it's fine by us. Ebba the dog finds that a brisk morning walk is even nicer in cool weather. She is also helping dear husband to build. Ebba's little house for her play pen is currently on the agenda. It will have a flat roof so that she can sit up there and keep a look out for bandits. The fact that she is such a buzzy bee, never in one place for very long, is neither here nor there. When the summer gets on its way, it will be nice for Ebba to have her little house to retreat into for a little nap and some shade. The flat roof is for comfort as I never have understood how Snoopy can cope - and yes I know he is a cartoon character. The building team will make a lovely addition to all small and larger shelters already scattered around the place. Thank goodness that dear husband makes such charming wood work that they are a pleasure to have around.
We have a sun and rain shelter for the sheep, where the hares ate their hay, during the cold months. Our dear sheep never ever go near it as they might miss some of the goings on, in the yard. We have a playhouse for the chicks, where the oldest hens lay their eggs. We have small wooden houses for the new hen families to sleep in. They are now egg laying places as the new families live nomad lives. The funny thing is that if we removed any of these constructions, the complaints would be heard far and wide. So, we know how this new project will turn out. Some extremely rare bird will find Ebba's new house to be the only place to nest in and our kind dog will have to do her own production of "The fiddler on the roof." At least the roof is flat.
Thank you for charming name suggestions-next week we will introduce the full list and character features of the fluffy team. Some boy's names would be helpful as we are being realistic.
Have a lovely Mother's Day, where it's celebrated today and just a lovely week in general. All the best, beep, beep.
A blog about a small holding in Southern Finland. Each original story is accompanied by a stunning watercolour illustration or resplendent photographs.