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.

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