Sunday, January 29, 2012

January - Where did it go?

So its January 29, 2012. But you would never know it here. It's a little hard to comprehend on several levels.

The most obvious would be the weather. It's been crazy here in the midwest. Today its supposed to top out in the 40's. The talk is about January thaws, and whether the lack of snow is indication of the drought moving northward in the coming year. For me its a little unsettling. Not because its extreme - I've seen it like this before. And while it could be a harbinger of global warming, my more immediate fear is that winter will get real about 2 weeks from now. That after our bodies have almost adjusted to average winter temperatures of a more southern state, one day we will wake up to a more normal winter clime. That day, indicated by past experience, would most likely be the annual chosen day to shear.

No, I'm not wringing hands over the potential shivers from the newly naked flock. They have managed fine before, and with a roof overhead and a bed of straw below, will so again. No, it's me. I long ago accepted the fact that the stars align along with the jet stream, the highs and lows of atmospheric pressure, Don's work schedule, and whatever other factors may enter in, and the coldest day of the year will fall along with the mercury on shearing day.

There is cold, and then there is barn cold. That same cutting cold of an unoccupied house, that feels colder than it really is. The kind of cold that numbs toes and fingers despite the added insulating layers - wool of course. Of course, the shearer soon sheds his outerwear, and offers no consolation to one who appears to be merely standing by. Which of course, I am not. For with the toss of the first fleece onto the sorting table, there is skirting and weighing and tagging and bagging. But none of that warms toes. Although, I learned years ago of the magical feeling of thrusting icy cold fingers into a freshly sheared fleece still warm and alive. It may be a part of the true appreciation for wool. An experience I still look forward to, as it serves as a reminder of another of the essential links in this cycle we call the shepherds life.

So regardless of the weather, the shearing will take place. Hopefully (for me) a little slower this year. With so many more wooly bodies, there will likely be more than one shearing day. Several perhaps, for the sake of both shearer and skirter. Sorting later on the garage floor is not any more fun.

Other seasonal subjects have been in discussion. The seed catalogs have arrived. Plots of melons and sweet corn already dance in our heads. And there is talk of new fields for all.

And as a personal achievement, I finished little Harper's nursery quilt. In keeping with the meadow theme of the nursery, (see previous blog for pictures) the back of the quilt is 'strip farmed'. See above picure - they are not cooperating today.

Another bird showed up at Christmas. Attached to a slinky, if you pull the cord it 'flies'!

And the quilt top. A variation of an uneven block pattern, I named it "Harper's Field."

So now its almost February. And the calendar is already filling. Conventions and presentation, art projects to finish (and start), planning and hopes for a productive year ahead.

I'll get at that. And try to keep you posted as it develops.

And of course, we will be shearing, regardless the weather.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Braydon visits the farm, and another year begins

So Christmas has come and gone. Without a lot of fuss around here. Since it was an 'inlaw' year, Christmas day was pretty quiet. Don at work, Dolly and Stalky and I hung out, enjoying the wonders of real Christmas music via Pandora, enjoying the fire and twinkly lights. Not bad, all in all. But we did venture off for supper with the Fujans, where I recieved the unwanted gift of the Christmas virus.

Fortunately, it didn't kick in for a few days. Because Braydon came for a visit. 48 hours of boy toddler. No time for sneezing. Since the weather was so nice, we got to spend some time outside. Braydon is finally old enough to do some serious exploring.

Of course we had to help with chores. Braydon directed the munching ewes with his new found toy.

The only snow left was a heap from the driveway clearing.

"Silly Dolly Dog," you could almost hear him mutter. "Daddy told me you don't eat snow."

The drifts of leaves were great fun though, because they rustle when you walk.

Braydon is learning new words every day. Being a boy on the farm, this one came easily.

"Stick!" he proclaimed without prompting. Then proceeded to 'write' in the dirt.

And discovered it makes a happy clattering sound when you beat it against the panels.

"What da ya mean, Grandma don't allow no sticks in the house?'

And while 'helping' Grandpa do chores, they stopped for a 'ride' on the old gray tractor. "Tractor' was also a new word. And possibly how 'Grandpa Tractor' got a new name.

After the 'ride' Braydon and Grandpa had a serious discussion of safety on the farm, and the high price of tires.

2 nights and 2 days, Cinnamon apple pancakes, books read, and much fun. Old toys played with by other little boys long ago were dusted off and drove once more. And the old Fisher Price doll house garage door goes up and down, up and down, and the front door bell still rings.

Then when the allotted time ran out, Grandma Fujan came for Braydon. It was their turn for a couple days of Braydon fun.

And the next day, the Virus took hold. And held through New Years, which was really Christmas. By then, I was really stuffed up and confused. But it was a good time with the kids and grandkids all home for supper at the farm.

So its now Jan, and we are well off the blocks in another year. Many exciting new plans are already beginning to unfold. There will soon be sheep to shear, and lambs to be born. Here's hoping for a truly Happy New Year for all.

Happy New Year Everyone.

Oh. And I am grateful to Dr. M, who gave me antibiotics even if I didn't have strep throat. I'm feeling much better now.