Friday, July 26, 2013

Last year.... gone

I recently looked back over past posts, and paused to read over "An Oasis of Green" that was posted one year ago.  I intended to post again on the anniversary date, but am a few days late.

What struck me was picture. None of  'Us' has forgotten the long dry spell of 2012. It is often referenced in thought and speech, even now, and not just by us. But I had forgotten the sight of that golden ground. Not sorry I did.

Its interesting how much color affects us. The colors that surround us are both influencing and telling. The many years spent as a painter made it obvious that you can tell a good deal about someones attitudes and outlook by the colors they choose for their living-in spaces. Likewise, the geographic location influences and is painted with appropriate colors fitting and shaping the environment which we habituate. For Us here in eastern Nebraska, summer is thought to be dominated by green. (No, red is for fall, and football) Green grass, green beans ,green fields. But last year, not so. The spring green quickly paled to an unwelcome gold.

I wanted to repost that picture here. But the demise of my computer earlier this year left the transferred  files of pictures scrambled. It is not to be found.  You will have to go back to the original post - July 18, 2012

Or maybe its not all that bad. Many things in life are best forgotten, or at least the memories dimmed. It was a tough year for everyone, but everything looks a whole lot greener this year.

Now thats better. The roses have been blooming almost continuously since May. The sheep are grazing the front patch for the second time. The garden is a few weeks behind due to the clod wet spring, and the market customers are growing impatient for tomatoes, but I don't mind. It's all green.

Yes, its getting dry.  The grass matured and begin to fade.  We  held off  planting the oats for pasture, the failure of last years planting still fresh in our minds. The cracks in the ground widened, and dust clouds trailing the few passing cars on the road became familiar once more. We watered the garden and waited. And then it rained. Only 3/4 of an inch, but enough to regain a farmers faith. And the oats were planted.

With the hay bales lined up on the edge of the field, and the pasture rotation making a second round, just a few showers will get us by. There are ewes to sell that didn't make the grade. (Wool grade, that is) The Keeper lambs are enjoying 'pasture school', being turned out to the back lot for some grazing on the playground. The Feeder lambs spend their days munching and dozing under the trees.All is pastoral here on the farm. And as for Us?  The first tomatoes and corn and green beans are official under our belts.

Here's wishing you all good Mid-summer night dream.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hay- on the 4th of July

So its already the Fourth of July.  My Mother used to remind us that meant the summer was half over. So yesterday, I took time for a quick look back at the first half.

That is, after taking care of the picking and washing of produce, as we held the Farmers Market in spite of the Holiday. Mid wash, Don announced that if I was ready, he would put up my washing station. So we did. Pictures and more on that later.

Our celebration was pretty common day. We went to Market, and a few customers showed up, so it wasn't a total bust. Then we got a sandwich, and drove around town to check out the activity. There wasn't any. At least outside of a few garage-grilling groups of friends and family. So we resigned ourselves to an ice cream cone treat, and went home. There we watched 2 fireworks shows on TV, (much quieter than live), and then a smaller live show courtesy of several neighbors from the front porch.

The significant entertainment came from the hay. The season of grass this year has been quiet opposite of last, thankfully. The grass was tall from all the timely rains.

Yes, it was 5 foot high and rising. So tall and thick in places it was difficult to mow, and harder to get to dry.

So it was raked into windrows, and some turned once, some twice.

How good it is to see how well it has taken hold, considering the drought of last year.

In the early afternoon, we walked out to check on the drying windrows.

It was, indeed, heavy and still slightly wet underneath, especially in the sheltered spots. We rolled some of it over, glancing again at the sky. We escaped the serious rain of earlier this week, and were not looking to welcome more.

While Don continued rolling over the grass, I was checking out the Mulberries.  There are several trees along the north fork of the creek, but the winds have not been kind to the 'berry lover. There were some left, and of course I sampled them all, but found none good enough to inspire me to retrieve the buckets and stained sheets.  Sigh. Maybe next year.

Today, the baler came back, and now 12 more rolls dot the hillside.

With 8 from the smaller field, and the 20 bought en ones in the yard, and a possible 2 yet to dry, that makes a total of 42, plus the 100 small squares of alfalfa in the barn, even the prospect of an early frost doesn't seem threatening.

Just to be sure, I checked last Julys posts before I started this one. How bleak it seemed, compared to now.  Still rain chances for the days ahead. But, then, the garden has begun to beg for water. Only time will tell. The days of July and August have proved to be cruel.

But other things are progressing. The older ewes have been sorted off, and may soon be looking for a new home, and possibly a few more productive years in other folds. Today, we sorted the lambs, now divided into Keepers and Feeders. I winced when I counted the Keepers. Can we really support that many sheep?  Well, we'll figure it out as we go. We made it through the last year.

The old timers had a saying they used to apply to the aged, weak, or run down livestock during the cold last of winter. "Gotta be tough, and hang in there. You'll be ok if you can make it to grass."

It's been a tough year on all of us. But here in the hollow surrounded by fields of corn ever taller, I hold on to the hope that we've made it to grass.

Keep thinking green everyone. And make hay while the sun shines - even on the Fourth of July.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Entertainment: Farm style

I admit I should be working on something. Well, I guess I really am, because I just put a bowl in the micro to dye. 'Flower' is the color; a mix of orange and reds. And I should start some supper soon, as we are both hungry after our adventurous day out.  Where?  A few may wonder, and appropriately so, since that this the subject and purpose of this post.

We went to a farm sale.

Yeah, for most, it doesn't sound like much for entertainment. But it did have a number of things going for it. Foremost that its predecessor of a few weeks ago was a positive experience. (We made a really good haul at that one.) Plus, its June 1. No heat for sure. In fact, both of us left feeling a little over dressed for the season, but certainly not the weather. The cold wind out of the northwest and occasional drizzle made the heavy jackets and hats welcome gear. Still, there was no snow on the ground either.

Scheduled to begin at 10:00, the sheep got sent to pasture early, and shorted for time a bit, and still the auctioneers cry was heard from down the road by the time we arrived. We trudged up the road toward the buildings and sound with a few other straggling late comers, and were a little surprised at the possibly sparse crowd huddled in the farm yard.

A side note here.  Farm sales have always been perceived as almost a right of passage to those growing up in farm country. Akin, and often connected to funerals, they long have served as a gathering place for family, friends and neighbors to share memories and memorabilia collected throughout the life of the residents. In keeping with the frugality of farmers, little is passed up form being offered to those in attendance. Actual value or usefulness is a judgment left to the buyer.

The neatly kept house was old and never considered more than modestly adequate. The sale bill had stated it clearly - the couple had both passed, and the family had decided it was time to disperse the belongings. I however, noticed a few details. The carefully placed benches outside the yard gate. (Of course the yard was fenced.) The scattered rose bushes, most in full bloom, waving greetings from beyond to whomever would take time to notice. I did. They were red, and pink, and one glorious yellow. Yes, they are lovely this year, Mrs. Divis.

Don was getting a number while I watched. We surveyed the lines of equipment. A couple tractors, including one shop-made tractor. They said it was made by one of the sons, and won first place at the 1966 State Fair.  Hay rakes, trailers, mowers (I counted 5), elevators, assorted field equipment, and piles of used tires and lumber circled the farmyard. We made our way to the primary objective of the day - the fencing. The panels were not exciting. The rolls of wire held a little more promise.

The long line of tables heaped with the expected not- so-goods from the household sparked my interest. A box of ladies hats. Unused quilt bats, and wool at that. A few interesting pictures and/or frames. Wool cards.  (That was unexpected). I claimed the buyers number, and joined the few standing close to the auctioneer. Don joined the group hovering around the hay rack where the hand tools were twice the age of their  new owners.

I was just in time. A box of trinkets and macrame hangers got no bids, so another box was added. Then another. Oh no - they added the glassware I had my eye on. I hate when they do that. I bid anyway, and for $2.00 the 5 boxes were mine. A lady swooped in behind me as I shoved them further down the table.

"What were you after?" she boldly asked. "All I really wanted was the glassware," I replied. "Is there something you'd like?"

"Give you $2.00 for one of those wind chimes."  "Sold."  Actually, I let her have 2. The macrrame plant hangers 'accidentally' got moved over into the growing pile of a fellow buyer.

Moveing on down the line, I passed on a few things I really didn't need. Then the picture. It was an old print of a farmstead. The color was still good, and the frame was nice. What! They were already making a pile, and it was on top. Oh well, I could use the two little shelves. But stop already!  I bid. I got it. I added the lot to my pile. Don was watching. I knew he was taking deep breaths.

I stopped the auctioneer short when he added the wool cards to an old radio. "I'll bid on the cards alone!"  But others did too. But I won. I carried them back proudly to show my fellow shepherd.

"Did you buy that last lot for the shelving?"  It was the rival bidder on the cards.  "No, I only wanted the picture."  She picked it up. "This one?" I nodded. "Would you sell me the little shelves?"  I gazed at them thoughtfully.  "I'll give you $25.00."  "Well.... ok," I replied, trying not to appear too eager. She only had $23.00 cash. Close enough I said, before she could back out. But there were two men close behind.

"I wanted the magazines," one exclaimed. "Me too" said the other. I looked expectantly at both in turn.  "I'll give you $5.00" the right one said, and I looked to the left. "Six".  He won the bid.

Don shook his head, and returned to the equipment line.

And the fun continued. Then there was a lull in the action while they sold items of now interest to us. The fence panels brought way too much for interest. Don did get some rolls of wire, one old but still in the roll. Toward the last, our concern turned to what items would still fit in the van. I ended the bidding with an $8.00 purchase of two metal cabinets. Problem. But, I knew the guy who had bid against me. Yup. I sold him one for $4.00. The better white one slipped in over the wire, and the van door closed.

At home, I helped unpack my goods. Don got over $200. worth of wire (new price), for less than $50.00. He did well.

I got:  several glass pans and bowls for dyeing: with that purchase was:  a nice old set of salt and pepper shakers - with the red lids, but the fancy kind; an old egg timer like my Mother had, that still works; 2 old candy thermometers; a nice little nick-nack cabinet; a very nice cake plate, and possibly more.  I got a large 'original oil painting'. - well the frame was worth the dollar. A nice framed mirror with etched glass; 7 oak frames from Olan Mills, still in the boxes; and a couple other large picture frames. The wool cards, AND two wool quilt batts. Plus, a small white metal cabinet, and $35.00 in cash.

Farm sales used to be work. With Don working, finding time just to go was a major chore. Suddenly, its different. Interesting that this sale so closely follows the last couple weeks of sorting off junk and cast offs, filling the dumpster that occupied the driveway. It was intended to clear room for the construction of the cool room, but we found ourselves saying "we'll do this now, to spare the kids later." No. I won't let it become an obsession. But it was fun.

Maybe this retirement job has a few unexpected rewards along the way.

But now its back to business. The Sheep and Wool Festival is next weekend. I have goods to package, fleeces to select. Classes to plan for, and materials to gather. The sheep (as yet unselected, but I voted for the smaller lambs this year. Enough with the rams.) are to pay their visit to the vet for health papers Tues. Much to be done.

But, the rain has been good. The grass keeps growing. The peas grow by inches each day. Summer begins. And out by my own yard gate, the roses are about to bloom. I think they will be lovely this year.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

No Excuses

No excuses. I could make a list of what all we have been up to - as an excuse for my not getting to the blog page for so long. And really, they are all valid, good ones. Impossible, or at least not practical to even make an attempt when all you have to type on is a tablet, would be the foremost. But never mind. I still don't have that much time to waste.

Today we marked shearing as finished for the year. The last 2 of the yearling rams got slicked down for the summer - which despite its long in coming, according to the weather reports is due to arrive. Tomorrow will be spring, and the next will be summer. Not what any of us had in mind.

Back to the subject I left hanging  in my last post.

Breeding colored sheep is still relatively new to us, at least in terms of generations of records of matches and results as statistics. But being on the 2nd and 3rd generations this year, we thought we were getting a handle on it. Not true.

Thousands of years of selective breeding by humankind, and 45 or so by McClures would lead us to expect a new family to look something like this.

White mother, white offspring who look much like her. (Triplets, at that!)

Only problem - their father was black. But hey - thats still ok, considering the white gene is supposed to be dominant.

Meanwhile, in the pen next door is this family.

That's right. Black mother, 2 white babies.

White gene dominant?  Hmm. Maybe not. These babies had both a black mother and father.                

Pen number 3 - just across the fence, on the same day.

Yep.  White mother, 2 black lambs.  Okay, so at least their father was black.

Things just didn't go as predicted this year. And no, no mistakes were made in pairing mothers and babies.

So, I turned across the isle, and got a shot of just one more set.

That's more like it.  White mom, black dad, and babies - one of each.

There are a few people out there who claim to have the whole color probability thing figured out. I'm not so sure. It's obvious to us at least, that it's a lot more complicated than a simple dominant gene. It's likely that the next time I hear of someone who 'knows', I'll just smile, and bite my tongue.

Meanwhile, the ewes and lambs are out to grass (and rye). The rams are sheared and recoated, and thoughts are turning to who will be the chosen to take to the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival in June. (sooner than we would like)

Today is Mothers Day. To celebrate (if thats what you want to call it), we sheared 2 sheep, began pondering which fleeces to show, and while Don tilled the garden, I worked on my entry for the Black Sheep Gathering Show. Then we put out the pathetic spindly plants, ready or not, and added some seed for good measure. The potatoes, onions, lettuce, peas, and a few other rows are at least visible now. The first offering of rhubarb and asparagus have been consumed.

And to end the day, we're quitting a bit early. The evening promises home made pizza, salad, and a personal sized portion of carrot cake left by the daughter in exchange for a 3 year old's haircut yesterday. (and maybe Mothers day). Then an appointment with, of all things, the TV.  Doc Martin, Call the Midwife, and the season finale of Revenge. Hm. almost sounds appropriate for the day.

Not exciting, but satisfying in a strange sort of way.

Now I'm done here for the day too.

But, there will be more.  Another day.

Happy Mothers day to all of you, from all the Ewes, and Us too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Seasonal visitors to the farm

So, the lamb count is lost somewhere.  I stopped asking after it hit somewhere around 115, and the lamb drop slowed considerably. About 15 ewes left, including some of the ewe lambs that are pregnant. Been averaging one or two a day. The excitement has dwindled, and is edging into boredom, and the urge to just get it over with and move on.

The recent visitors were still excited by the babies though. First were the girl scouts, who came a couple of Saturday mornings for the Artventure Project. 

 They made felt, dyed it with kool aid, and made flowers.

And of course they had to meet some lambs.

Some even had shown lambs in 4-H, but few had ever seen true black ones.

 I made the green felt for the leaves, and the blue 'vase'.

The completed bouquet  will be sold at the upcoming fundraising event for the ArtVenture program.

Nice work girls.

And the title -  "Thanks o lot, and maybe next year we'll make Samoa."
 Then on Easter, the grandkids all got to meet some of the new members of the flock.  The older ones were only mildly impressed. Its not like they've never seen a lamb before.

But Max hadn't!  He was mesmerized. Or maybe he was attracted to the similar ears.  What a jolly little bunny with lamb.

More news soon. I even have pictures taken. But in the meantime, things are popping up all over.  The garden planting has begun, even if spring is very late.
No signs of potato green yet. The grass, however, with the help of the recent cold rain (yuck) is visibly taller each day.  The fruit trees are pruned. Almost ready for real spring.

Doing our best to get ready for the big event - the first spring  "Flock to the Farm".  Shearing, wool handling, spinning and more. Baby Lambs everywhere!  Garden preview, sustainable and intensive grazing practices. For families, fiber folks, and any wanting a day on the farm.  All welcome if you can get here.  There will be a report after the event of course.

Visitors are always welcome.
Hope your spring is as 'Hoppy' where you are.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lambs are 'Marching' onward

The first lambs arrived just over 2 weeks ago. Now are more than half done, and I can't keep up with the count, but last I checked the score was 73 lambs on 52 ewes. Or something like that. It's been amazing to us how doubling the size of the flock somehow more than doubles the amount of work. But, like every other year, the sight of all those happy babies hopping and playing in the sunshine makes it all seem worth it.

When the sun finally shines that is.  Spring has been slow to arrive, and the cloudy cold days, seemingly continuous flurries, and furious north winds was hard on the newborns. Cramped for space this year, the new families were pushed out of the nursery in short order to make room for the even newer additions. A brief outbreak of scours was fortunately stopped with magic pink medicine and timely warming sun. Everybody is looking better now.

 The girls scouts came again this year for some fiber art fun (more on that in a later blog). They got to visit some of the first babies.  I was impressed - out of 7 girls, one had showed lambs in 4-H, and one had a mother who spins.  Still happy to do what we can to keep spreading the word about sheep and wool.

 Last Monday, I went out to take pictures for the blog, but it was a terrible day for lambs. But I did find these 4 in a row.

And a little wooly pinwheel. Or is it a shamrock?

The next day was better. The singles and their mothers were hanging out together in the sun.

And there are encouraging signs of spring. Once again, we are awakened by singing birds at dawn. And the chorus of hungry ewes at chore time are now joined by dozens of higher voices of the lambs. True music to a shepherds ears.

And meanwhile, seeds are sprouting. Firewood has been replaced by the table of green basking in the 24 hour faintly pink glow of the grow light. (In the sun room, of course)  The break in the weather broke dormancy of the gardener, and onion plants now reside in soil. As I type, the potatoes are placed in the adjoining rows.

So yes, it really turning out to be a good Friday, on Good Friday. Easter has long marked the beginning of spring in its celebration.

Hope you all have a good one too.

Happy Easter from all of us........ make that 75 lambs on 53 ewes.... at Ewe And Us.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Shearing day delight

As promised, a report on shearing day (s) 2013.

Well, so we really aren't done yet. The ewe lambs are still in full fleece, but with lambing beginning very soon, not for long. They get put down the list since they will lamb a little later.

 In full fleece, the girls filled the west half of the barn. And yes, it was time for shearing. As evidenced here, many of the covers were getting a bit too small.

I try to document things as they occur, and especially things like shearing day, since they only happen once a year. I got a couple of 'before' shots, and then got distracted with my duties as wool handler.

Don does the shearing. The bellies and tags are thrown into a separate pile at the beginning. Once sheared, I weigh and record the fleece, and throw out on a grated skirting table. I prefer to do out side up first, and pull off the really dirty edges, legs, and back of the neck - whatever was not protected by the cover. Character comments, staple, and other notes are put down, and the fleece is bagged tagged and  re-weighed for clean weight.  Uncovered fleeces are 'tanked' -  in this case meaning they are dumped into the lined 'tank' to be later bagged for commercial sale.

The experience of handling the still warm fleeces is always moving, especially as a spinner/wool enthusiast. Often, as recorded in past years blog report, its because of the warmth. This year, I sensed right away that there was something more. I noticed that after the few first fleeces that were uncovered, and thus 'tanked', and the first  lovely white warm clean fleece spread over the table. I judged. I took notes. And as each fleece passed through my hands and critique, it became my favorite. No, this one. Then this one. They are all different in minor ways - some dense with fine crimp, the next pencil locks with bold. One long and lustrous, the next incredibly soft. Like a mother of many children, in the end, I could name no favorite.

 After day 3 ( Admission of age - neither Don nor I were up to shearing all of them at once.) We cleaned off the shelves in the garage to make room for the new crop. (The last of the 2012 fleece was offered at bargain prices, and very little remains.)
 We loaded the truck with the bagged fleece for the trip to the garage. They didn't all fit.

We had noted that some very nice '12 fleeces got 'lost' on the shelves. This year, we tried a new system. The numbered fleece bags also have weight and a grade (my standards). They were they placed on the shelf according to their grade. Hopefully, I will be better able to locate them as they are called for according to use. I was pleased when Don kept running out of room for the 'A's' and A-'s.
 Meanwhile, back in the barn, the 'skirtings' pile was impressive. It always hurts to throw that much wool into the 'discard' pile, but the end product is well worth it. I will admit to my wool buyers that I found myself cheating just a little this year. Looking back at the fleeces as I list them for sale, I realize I didn't skirt as hard as I usually do. I just couldn't throw out all that wool that just needs a little more attention before processing. I will adjust price accordingly instead, and attribute it to being more sustainable.

After 'haircuts', the girls bask in the sunshine.  The colored ewes and a few other 'special' ones got covered right back up. They will probably go naked for a few weeks while their lambs are little - for safety - but no longer than necessary. Even Don is a believer in those covers, despite the frustration of keeping them on for months at a time.
 Then the commercial sale wool got bagged.

Yep, its a big bag.  Thats an 8 ft ladder.

 For those not experienced in the trade, this is how you get more than a hundred pounds of fluffy wool packed into the bag.

You stomp it in.

Dolly was trying to help.

She brought us a bottle of water.

We declined, and went to the house for our drinks.

Thus ends the storyboard of shearing day. There are already several spaces on the shelves where fleeces have been sold. And a few have future owners names on them. And I sometimes wonder if I'm a fool for selling the best instead of keeping it for myself.  But that's the business. And I don't mind using the  lesser stuff - because its still quite nice.

So now we've moved on to the days ahead.  The lambing barn is partially set up. Today Don is off to fetch some better hay for the new mothers. The produce has been good, but not enough for both mother and lamb to supplement the poor hay. At least we found some, so we are trying to ignore the pain of a 5 digit purchase.

Now I need to go finish some plans for the girl scout class that will be here next weekend. They will be making felt dyed flowers for a group arrangement. Sure to be fun, and I hear they are excited to come see the baby lambs too.

The seed order came yesterday too. Maybe a project for the predicted (and sort of hoped for) rainy weekend.

And, yes, there are still the ewe lambs to shear.

Its spring on the farm.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Progress and produce in a frosty season

So it is now Feb 24th.  So much for Don's retirement.  In the past 3 weeks, much has happened. progress to be sure, but not so good for Don's plan for naps.

We attended the Agri-tourism Conference. Made some new friends, lots of contacts, answered a few questions, and shored up some confidence in our plans for the farm. Since then, there have been numerous meetings, and sign out papers. Still waiting on word about health insurance, but that's still a topic for another day.

Sheep got sheared, and all or near all are pregnant. That, too, is for another day.

Taxes are done, filed, and put away. That's a happy thought. so while we are on pleasantries, I will fill in the details of the produce story.

We have a rather unique local business that specializes in overstock, damaged, and other odd lots of various merchandise. We have been long time fans of the establishment, as it has provided many 'finds' over the years, varying from gallon cans of carrots, curtains, pet supplies, plastic kitchen ware, and so much more. Included is fresh produce retrieved from the distribution center. I have always tried to take advantage of the bargain prices, and happily changed the evening menu at the last minute to adjust for the daily deal at the Warehouse.

One day in mid January, amid a discussion of the current status of hay quality and nutritional needs, the Warehouse was mentioned. A short time later, the discussion came to mind as I placed my produce find of the day on the counter to pay. I looked behind me, and in a rare moment, there was no one. So I posed a question to the owner/cashier -  "What do you do with the leftover spoiled produce?"

The result - said produce is now consumed at Ewe And Us.

The first few hauls were crates of green beans.  A little moldy perhaps, but the girls didn't care.

 What a treat to have green goods in the bunk on a cold January day.
 Then one day, a special treat came in.  Watermelon! and cilantro, and collard and turnip greens. And berries, and bananas, apples and more.
 No, thats not a scene from a horror movie, its just watermelon lips on ewe.
 Here is a view of our 'produce' wagon while Don cuts the melons. Notice the waiting line behind him.
And then came the salad greens - cilantro.

Since then, we have lost track of how many hundreds of pounds of produce we have hauled home to the sheep. Last week it was potatoes. 1200 lbs of potatoes. Had to make 2 trips. They may not be in the form of fries, but it matters not. At 100 plus lbs/day, we still have some left.

I checked back in with the owner, to be sure they were aware and on board with the exchange. It's all good, for everyone. The crew doesnt need to haul everything back down the street. They don't have to pay to have it hauled away. It doesn't get put in the landfill. Its put to use - even if it's just sheep feed. And our pregnant ewes are getting an extra shot of nutrition.

Okay, so we have had a few days of grumbling. It does take time to empty all those berry containers, sort through the foul smelling bags of potatoes, and untie the bundles of greens and cilantro. The slimy cucumbers in shrink wrap were the worst for soaking through gloves and numbing fingers. Not to mention the loss of garage square footage to use as a walk in cooler. (an issue to be addressed before it warms too much).  But it seems to be worth it.

There is no predicting what or how much we will get. We just respond to 'the call'. But we do take notice when advised to 'bring a truck'.

And, for those of you may wonder, NO, even the food bank couldn't use this stuff. It's already been rejected once, maybe twice. But it does spark a little feeling of satisfaction that its one more item on our list of  'sustainable practices.'

So the next time you make some vegetable soup, you can raise a spoon,  think of Us, and say "Here's to Ewe".  Just don't use those rotten potatoes.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Its a new dawn.... Don...?

How embarrassing. I just missed an entire 3 months of blogging. So sorry readers.

Its not that nothing has been happening out here on the land. Quite the opposite. So if I may be permitted to claim and excuse for not keeping up, that would be it. Sometimes the actual living gets in the way of the documentation.

Nether have I not had intention. Nor ideas. Many posts have crossed my mind, and are tucked away in a brain crevasse, keeping company with the other 'could of's' and a number of 'should ofs'.

Some of the 'Could ofs' would include:

Breeding season ended on a positive note. The clean up ram didn't seem to find much to finish up. And now further verification of that by the observation that a number of the ewes are starting to bag up.

A very mild early winter was easy on the wood pile, but the lack of moisture in the warm temps was not so easy on the grass. Not to mention that the temporary fall pasture never got enough growth to graze.

After a good deal of frustration, the new automatic water-er got installed and in use before the hard freeze set in. The rams are sharing a tub with a heater, and the big bunch of ewes have the tank at the hydrant. No more draining hose every night. May not seem like much, but progress is progress.

The fall/Christmas season meant 3 art shows, classes at the Lux, and seasonal sales. Hmm. Maybe thats what I was doing.

Thanks to my daughters directive, I now have an inventory of yarn, wool, and needle felting supplies with the pleasant folks at 'Yarn Charm', a new yarn store in north Lincoln. Oh - and teaching classes there too.

Should 'ofs include:

The arrival of Maxwell Simon McClure on Oct 2.  (I can't believe I missed that one - I must have intended to make it a special one)  Our fourth grandchild, second grandson, and first male child to carry on the McClure name for the generation. Not to mention a happy boy who is a born charmer.

And now for the big one - Today is Don's last day at work.  Yup, he actually did it.  Really, I'm not sure either of us is fully prepared. The paperwork and questions are still in the works. There are actually several blogs worth of material involved. Like the frustrations of my finding health insurance. How do we handle the retirement account. The usual things. The sure one being- things are going to change.

The truth is, I feel like I'm 18 again. Or 21. Or about to welcome a member to the household.  - Oh. I guess I am. Its another stage of life. I have taken in 3 babies, watching them grow,  then releasing them first off to school, then college. My house was full, and seldom silent until the last one left for good. And I confess to have easily grown to appreciate the time alone. Well, most of the time. For sometimes alone IS lonely. That was 11 years ago. Now, starting tomorrow, there will be another human in the house. That seems strange.......Exciting!.....comforting.......scary.....   all at the same time.  But this is a farm. Things change. Seasons come and go.  Spring will soon be here, the season when all awakes to  the call to grow. And, in order to grow, all things must change.

The shepherd is coming home. Just in time for shearing - a preparation of spring and the new crop of lambs which will soon begin to appear. 

I don't think either of us (heh- 'US') see any endings here. Only beginnings. Of what, we're not quite certain yet. Time will tell. The seeds of opportunity are already being sown. With the ground still frozen, it may be a while before we recognize which ones have taken root.

The sunrise this morning was spectacular.  I watched with hot coffee and cold feet as the first light emerged on the eastern horizon. A line of dark gray clouds reached up from the south, as if trying to veil the thin yellow glow. But the pink prevailed. It's power penetrated the gray and in moments only a pale orchid softness remained.  I took it as a sign, and despite the temperature outside and in, I felt strangely warmed.

Its a new day.  Bring on the Don.

And, I'll try to do better with the blog.