Friday, July 30, 2010

Proof of Concept

Honey comes to say hi
I am a pretty mediocre farmer. I tend to have bursts of energy and then hope that Nature will do the rest. And more often than not, she comes through, like this spring, with 7 lambs... way more than we would know what to do with, even if we weren't going to live in Barcelona for a year (in less than 3 weeks!). Yesterday, I sold all the lambs and one of the ewes to a friend, and last night, I listened as the remaining ewes plaintively called for their babies. Real farmers don't feel guilty, I fear.

But I was also worried that they'd be bursting with milk. Mastitis is no joke, so when I went out to check them this morning, I tried milking them. Icelandic sheep are considered a "triple-purpose" breed because they are often raised for meat, for their beautiful lustrous wool, and for their rich milk. I had half-heartedly tried milking one of the more docile ones last year, but time and other projects got the better of me. This time, since it seemed more of a necessity, I tried harder.

And it was easy! Well, at least with Honey, who is amazingly calm and easy-going. It didn't hurt that she was in seventh heaven with the bit of grain that I gave her. I had been enviously watching DH go off to milk the cow all summer, and it was fun being the one doing the milking. Since they were already out in the field, I did have to get DH to come help hold them steady, especially Fleur who is the most skittish of the group.

And though I didn't quite get a whole quart, it felt like a proof of concept. It would be better in the barn, with a stanchion, doing all four ewes, with a regular schedule, and I'm sure a couple of improvements more, but it really does work. Now I'm going to go sample some good Manchego, and when we come home, maybe I'll make some of my own.

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