Oct. 20, 2011
Liam, our escape-artist Maine Coon cat slipped out last evening when Dirk went to feed the sheep, and returned after a night out in wind and rain, at about 10 a.m., dry and well-groomed. He certainly has found some good hide-outs in his rambles!
Two nights ago in a downpour, a poor possum was rapidly going up and down the deck railing looking, no doubt, for a dry pile of sunflower seeds to eat. Nothing was dry that night. He covered the whole feeding area where I find heaps of droppings every morning, in about 30 seconds, rain running off his soaking fur, shaking his head to keep the water out of his eyes, then he disappeared into the rose bush, his nose poking out toward the sunflower seed he could reach somewhat sheltered from the rain.
Liam had the advantage to have a full stomach before he slipped out into the dark. Possum was hungry and desperate, so instead of holing up wherever they take shelter, he was seeking supper. After the rain let up, I put seed out, and by morning he and his family had returned, most of the seed had been eaten, and I had to scrape the gray residue of their excrement off the railing before I put down the morning’s seed for the birds. I don’t have chickens, so they cause no harm here. My friends who do have quite opposite opinions, since possums eat their eggs and the chickens, if they can catch them. Their rows of sharp teeth are very impressive, and if they’re hungry, they’ll kill, especially the baby chicks.
My asthma has kicked up since I spent two hours with my scythe, cutting off dog fennel taller than I am in Kelly’s sheep pasture. Her sheep finally have an enclosed fence again in that area, but since April’s tornado, that pasture has been growing weeds un-munched by hungry sheep. Now that the fence is secure against coyotes, the sheep are back, but they can only reach leaves about four feet up the tall stalks, and the base of those weeds is like a small tree. I thought since I was working in a breeze, the pollen would blow away and not bother me. Two days later I was in the urgent care in considerable discomfort. Two weeks later I’m still not over it, and have kicked myself several times for not wearing a mask when I have one dangling on the steering wheel for any dusty activity, like putting a few bales of hay in the back of the van to tide us over.
So I’m now going to visit the clinic today instead of spinning at the fleece sheep competition at the NC State Fair, my annual pleasure. The sheep are so beautiful, the wool is lovely, and many of my friends have their Shetlands, Jacobs, Romneys, Corriedales and other types of sheep that grow wool for hand spinning there for the competition. Sheep for meat production usually have stiff wool, or are a hair-sheep breed that needs no shearing–they shed like a dog. The wool they produce can be used for rugs, or upholstery, but would be very itchy if used in a sweater.
IF I’d remembered to put on the mask I’d probably not be in this condition. However, also since I had the stamina to spend two solid hours in vigorous activity two weeks ago, this too shall pass, and when I’m back to my usual, I’ll be more thoughtful. about cherishing my lungs!
While I snuggle under my wool afghan, I realize my fingers are stroking a silky, fluffy red patch made from Becky’s fur, and my eyes fill with tears. There it is–a rectangle of Red Merle Aussie undercoat I brushed from Becky many months ago, carded it into yarn and knitted it up into this patchwork of swatches I’d made over years as I adapted my handspun to various patterns. I’m thankful for all the years we had with Becky, and thankful that I can spun the fur of our pets and make little memorials of their cast-off undercoat which will last a very long time. I’ll include a picture here of my patchwork afghan I made with fur from Siobhan and Emily, our Great Pyrenees dogs, Becky, and from Liam and Licorice, the two cats. Two of these animals have now crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but I can still stroke their soft fur and cherish their memory.