Sunday, 11 December 2016

Mice and sheep

It's early morning and while I'm writing this, my outdoor clothes are running past me, one by one. This is not the most normal way to start the day but then again nothing much is normal anymore, since Ebba the dog moved in.

From lazy, laid back mornings with our old friend Mr. Chip, we now have full on action at 6am. Ebba finds everything that's not nailed down and brings it to my bed or hides it in the sofa. It's quite funny to watch; her running style is beautiful and her determination is impressive. I do tell her to stop and for a while it works and then she is off again. She would probably end her collecting frenzy completely if we raised our voices about it but somehow it feels that we are not in that place yet. Maybe we will get there, we'll see.

Ebba is a young dog and she is still finding living with us to be a bit wonderful. The morning show is pure joy on her part and eventually she calms down and starts dancing with all her toys instead. By then all my woolly clothes are once again slightly damp and in need of a wash.... (I found some bread; all wrapped up and tidy, under my pillow the other evening. I burst out laughing, to Ebba's great surprise, but it is nice to know that she is looking out for us - if I had felt peck’ish in the night...).

It's so very dark in the mornings right now and as everything is covered with ice, we have to wait a little bit for the morning walk - hence the Ebba-show. She still gets out into the forest at 8am so she is not doing that badly, I think.

Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My are stepping out very gingerly in the mornings. Dark and slippery is not what sheep of a certain age crave for but needs must. They only stay outside long enough for me to clean the stable. Then they are back, knee deep in hay and bedding.

Monty, Ullrick and Matti - the cockerel trio, have started to irritate our hens immensely. Matti is chasing hens around the stable and pulling at their tail feathers. This makes them yell rude things and I have taken up my mitten throwing once again. Matti lets go of the hen when a mitten lands on his head but he then stands around complaining loudly, for ages. He has also figured out that it's me throwing the mitten so he now gives me the evil eye, when we meet. I tell him about being nice to the fellow man or packing and so the days go by....

Monty has offended his former flock by leaving them for our visiting hens, so he is also in the doghouse. This leaves us with little Ullrick, the sweet, tiny washing up brush of a cockerel. He is so confused as the hens actually speak to him now and he jumps high up in the air when one comes too close. He still sleeps next to his mother and has no interest in the ladies of the house. We have discussions about the hardship of life, Ullrick and me... (Now he is chasing hens as well so I should not have tempted faith...).

Winter days involve a lot about checking that everyone is warm and safe, that Ebba gets enough exercise and that the hay barn is well stocked up. With so many hens it also means constant cleaning and I do that now completely on autopilot. The outside birds are eating plenty and our squirrel population seems to be growing in numbers. We have one very brave squirrel that sits just out of reach, runs just a bit quicker then us and seems to do it on purpose.  Ebba told me that she could sort this one out and I believe that she could. We are trying to avoid that morning catastrophe but we do wonder why the little joker keeps taking such risks. It sits very close by when I stock up on birdseeds and I don't think it is feeling poorly. It has a glossy, thick coat and a happy disposition. And a slightly odd sense of humour, it seems.

There is a family of mice living in the little outside sheep shelter. The little house looks like a sturdy bus shelter and was built to keep our dear sheep out of the rain in the summertime. The sheep use anything but that to stay dry when it rains so now family Mouse have moved in. (Our greedy sheep still pop in to help out with their dinner...).
It looks really cozy and warm for them, in there. They have hay and some seeds to keep them happy and content and they stand up on their little hind legs when you pass the house with the torch lighting up their home. There is no longer any signs of mice in the hay barn so maybe they prefer to watch the stars at night to living in a dark barn.

The shelter looks a bit like a little stable at Christmas time so maybe they are setting up the nativity play. It can also be that the mice stay up late in order to meet up with the tiny Christmas elves that are hard at work, with less than three weeks to go. The mice are safe from the hens for the moment but as soon as the weather gets warmer, they better watch out.....

When a mouse stands on its hind legs the people in the know call it “tripoding.” Makes sense, I guess. They do use their tail for support. I also read that next year will be "The year of the rooster", according to the Chinese zodiac. I know of dear friends that will be so chuffed about this and I have a sneaky feeling that all our cockerels will take it personally. Oh joy!

Be well and eat a lot of Christmas goodies. We do....

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