A bit of storm bounty

Since all of our sheep are currently in and around our shelters — eating hay until the 23rd or 24th, in the final step of our parasite elimination plan — they daily look longingly at our overgrown fields, hoping for a windfall. I can see it in their faces: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we woke up tomorrow and the gates were open? Wouldn’t it be grand if some of that fresh green stuff just dropped from the sky into our paddocks? Wow, that would be the day! And sometimes wishes do come true.

Because of our very hot and humid weather, we have the occasional storm pass through toward the end of the hottest days. Just last Saturday, an incredibly windy storm came through, bending our young trees nearly to the ground and shaking many of the birds’ nests loose from their branches. Once the storm had passed, I made the rounds of our groups of sheep, looking for damage or injury. As I came to the adult ewes around the Storage Barn, I noticed that the storm had broken off a largish branch from one of our younger maples along the lower paddock. The branch was caught in the other branches, and I made a mental note to get the saw out when I had time. I needn’t have bothered.

Just after my check of the area, Orbit (the llama with the adult ewes) found the hanging branch and began to help himself to the fresh leaves at the very tip, which was within his reach. Crowding around Orbit and carefully watching his work, the flock of adult ewes — some standing on hind legs, hoping to grab a bite — eagerly egged on his efforts. All of that tugging and shaking did its job, and soon the limb was down from the tree and into the paddock where the ewes enthusiastically waited.

When the branch came down, the ewes swarmed the fresh greens that had, quite literally, dropped from the sky and into their paddock. After a few moments, the sheep returned to their hay in the barn, leaving behind only a bare branch — a shadow of the lush green limb that it had once been. Even the bark and the cambium (the growth layer) underneath had been stripped. There was little left but the low-nutrition pale inner wood that our sheep consider inedible. Yes, sometimes dreams do come true! Little do they know that in just over a week, they’ll once again have more green than they can now imagine, since they will once again be back out on pasture. That will be a joyous day indeed!

When the sheep left and returned to their hay, all that was left of the once-lush branch was this stripped stick — the ewes had happily eaten all that they could!

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