Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Solstice and beyond

June 21, last Tuesday, was the summer solstice. Which in more recent years, has always been one of my favorite days of the year, although I'm not even sure why. I think it has something to do with my ties to the land, and the affinity to light and the season of productivity and the abundance of green. And this year, it was a Birth day.

I finished painting the nursery and installing the accompaniments on Monday.

And on Tuesday, the Solstice, little Harper Christena McClure joined the clan, rounding out the extended family to one child each for each of our kids. The table will be just a bit more crowded, but there will always be room. Grandma even has enough high chairs!

We have now marked 2 farmers markets for the season, and are off to a good start. This week we nearly sold out, although the amount was still small, but we had the first cucumbers, and they were the first to go. There are promises of a better selection each week.

We even had some interesting customers. A couple from India, who had to ask about some of the vegetables they were not familiar with. The rhubarb proved a bit hard to explain. They were excited to learn about the market, and enthusiastic about the fresh batch of strawberry jam. I predict they will be back next week.

It's been an unusual summer again this year. Temperature has been up and down to the extremes. Rainfall abundant, but welcome here. (Not so much 40 miles east on the Missouri river, where levees continue to breach, and the farmland is covered) The garden seems almost confused, growing in spurts and then stalling during the cool spells. But overall it is doing well, and there will soon be beans and zucchini to supplement the supper and market tables.

The late lambs have been weaned. Their mothers were dressed when they were sorted off, and presented a seasonal dilemma - we ran out of suits! So a head count was made, sizes estimated, and an order sent off for more. We resisted this far, but finally have given in to the fact that they will just have to be 'changed' sometime in the fall. We're getting smaller ones for the summer. They just walk out of them if their suits are too big, and the temporary alterations we tried last year just didn't work. Sorry Don. (He has to put their feet in, while I hold their heads.)

And the event of the weekend - we had our own private (and unwelcome) 'Trailing of the sheep here last night.

It started off well enough. We had a lovely simple supper of chicken tenders sauteed with new red potatoes and snow peas. After the news, Don headed out to get the sheep in, and put up a temporary fence to divide the pasture. I finished up some business (about sheep suits), and suddenly had that 'sheepy' feeling - that something wasn't right. I went to the front door to see a trail of sheep galloping down the road - headed north.

I headed out down the steps, calling for Don, who was no where in sight. I checked, but didn't see him in the pasture. I called again, getting concerned, as I thought I heard a distant answer over the bellowing sheep. He and the dog were on the road, just out of sight behind the windbreak. I trotted down the driveway, trying to assess what was happening, and to determine if the bark of orders I heard in the distance were for Dolly or me. I finally made them out to be "Bring the truck!". I'm not sure what the neighbors heard.

I turned around and trotted back for the truck, impressing myself that I didn't struggle much with the stick shift feature. As I approached the road, about half the flock passed the driveway, headed south, with Don and Dolly close behind, all of them panting heavily in the heavy humid air. Don jumped into the drivers seat, and I called for Dolly, who by now believed she was in deep trouble, and headed sheepishly to the yard. Luckily, the group didn't go far, and soon were headed back to the yard, where Dolly now lay at her post at the gate. Don and I headed north on an empty road.

They hadn't quite made it to the stop sign, not that we believe they can read. They were split in the ditches. We passed them without incident, and Don jumped out, and they politely turned and headed for home. He followed on the outskirts, and I was glad it was him who was slipping, half running through the waist high corn. Once back up on the road, they slowed, and Don gratefully joined me back in the truck. Panting heavily, they had slowed to a walk by the time they reached the lane, and seemed almost glad to turn in.

Once all safely corralled, Dolly, Don and I stood dripping at the hydrant to catch our breath. When all were breathing normally, I dared ask, 'What happened there?'

'Jumper' was out. He had opened the gate to let her back in, and as he was getting them in, left it open. But then he called for the dog. And she came. But instead of going around the ewes as she usually does, she came straight at him, and the ewes responded. They ran ahead of her, straight out the gate, and headed down the road on the run. (I almost wish I would have caught that part - Don yelling to 'Go around them', with dog and sheep and him all on a dead run. Well, maybe not). "It was my fault," he admitted. "I should have kept the dog with me." Dolly stopped slinking after awhile. We hope she figured out she wasn't being blamed.

We had a good laugh when I told him my version. Fortunately our close neighbors are elderly and don't hear well, although they did have company. But, after all these years, they are probably not alarmed by the bleating, beeping, and barking of a occasional sheep stampede.

So goes the life of the shepherd. Sometimes, they go astray. Would they have come home, if we left them alone? They have before. But last night, I think it may have taken awhile. Life out there in the wild is looking pretty green right now.

I guess its pretty green for all of us.

Happy trails to all. Bask in the light.

1 comment:

  1. You could have just loaded them up in the back of the van to bring them home! ;) HA HA.