Snow, Bad Sheep, and the Loch Ness Llama

This winter we set up a long row of six big round bales, surrounded them with feeder panels, and let the sheep and llamas have at it. It’s close enough to the house that I can look out the dining room window and see everything, which I enjoy.

The llamas liked to eat on the far side. Zipper, the dark brown llama, would appear and disappear, looking a great deal like the Loch Ness Monster.

Now you see him…

Now you don’t…

And here he is again, coming up for air…

Here’s a ewe sitting on the hillside, contemplating life, or snow.

After we got all that heavy snow during the holidays, it took me awhile to notice that the llamas were no longer eating on the far side. They were eating on the closer side. Neither of us paid too much attention until it was TOO LATE.

Here’s how sheep are supposed to eat their hay:

Here’s how they were eating the hay today:

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. There are bad, bad sheep standing IN the hay, freely peeing and pooping on perfectly good food. And how much of this peed-on or pooped-on hay do sheep and llamas like to eat? None of it. Can’t really blame them.

The snow blew up against the back of the feeder and became hard-packed and ice-coated. It basically formed a convenient ramp leading right up to the feeders, leaving only two feet between snow and the top of the panels. Two feet is nothing for a sheep to hop.

This snow build-up is probably why the llamas stopped eating from that side—they were standing too high above the hay to reach down comfortably and eat.

So today Melissa and I suited up. It was 5 above, so we were comfortable. We marched down to the feeder armed with a shovel and some seriously sharp and dangerous gouging and chipping tools. For an hour we hacked and shoveled and hacked and shoveled, occasionally using inappropriate language as the gouging tool bent back or the ice wouldn’t yield. Finally we lowered the snow pack to 3 and 1/2 feet below the top of the panel.

One hour later I looked out the window. All was well. Good. All our hard work paid off.

Two hours later I looked out the window to see this:

Heavy, heavy, sigh.

I really don’t know what to say that wouldn’t require me to censor the entire sentence….

Tomorrow we will suit up again, and hack and shovel until we get the snow level low enough to foil the leaping beasts.

(On the happy side, though, YARN sale is still going on…scroll to earlier post.)

5 thoughts on “

  1. Oh those darn critters! I so understand your frustration. Goats are terrible about climbing in the hay, places where you might think is nearly impossible to get into! Even the cattle will manage to climb into their ring.
    We have a homemade balefeeder for the goats that holds the bale about 2 feet off the ground. The bale lies on it’s side, and they will eat out the center. One summer I had two doelings manage to fit between the bars and climb in the hole! Some mange to climb all the way to the very top of the bale, several scary feet in the air. Fortunately none have ever been injured on the trip off the bale.
    Good luck trying to deal with your snow drifts in this lovely cold weather. I’m looking forward to the 20’s coming next week!

  2. Oh I’m so sorry but I had to LOL when I read this. BTW, a handy hay feeder, that is also portable, are those cages that the 275 gallon plastic tanks that liquid chemicals come in. The tubing on the cages varies though and I’ve found that the square tubing rubs the underside of their necks removing all wool. The round tubing doesn’t seem to do that.

  3. Catherine, I raise primarily BFL and Shetland but there are a few other strays mixed in. I’m a spinner/knitter and wannabe weaver but theres that time thing that keeps getting in the way!

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