Archive for We have sheep.

It’s a sheep vacation!

We were down to about seven bales of hay when we got the call from some local friends.  Our pasture was slowly rebounding from drought but not yet ready for the stampede of hooves or the voracious palates that accompanied them.  Anxiety was ever-present, the nagging problem of how we were going to feed those thirteen ungulate mouths hung overhead like the diesel stench of a dump truck idling in front of you at a stoplight.  “We have two acres of overgrowth in our back yard – we were trying to figure out how to mow it.  Full of poison ivy.  Would you be interested in putting your sheep back there?” The call from the friends was received in much the same way one would receive news of winning big.  “YES!” we said, without a moment’s hesitation, and I imagine now that it would have been completely appropriate to have clicked our heels mid-air, in a leprechaun-style leap of glee.  Were we slightly more nimble, we might have done just that.

So we packed them up and drove them down the road a piece and sent them to an All-You-Can-Eat Fat Camp.  They didn’t even register our leaving as they began gorging themselves on greens the likes of which they hadn’t known for months.  They’re there right now, feasting contentedly while simultaneously clearing out the overgrowth that had made the parcel impassable for our friends.  The jury’s out though, on the poison ivy.  There seems to be no reason why they can’t eat it but they choose to do so sparingly, clipping the random plants interspersed with the good stuff but ignoring the big patches of it.  Goats, I hear, are great for clearing out poison ivy but we are blessedly short on goats.

The lines between old and new paddock really are that delineated.  The sheep do good work.

There’s an eery quiet here now that’s taken some getting used to.  We have no sheep here, have no sheep in our day save for the scheduled visits/paddock moving every two days.  There’s no lack of attention for them, though.  Our friends seem to be enjoying the company, letting them out to explore the yard proper or hanging with just Munson.  I suspect it might be hardest to get him back home when the clearing-out is done – that guy makes fast friends with all he meets.

I miss my flock, though, ecstatic as I am that they are getting 3+ squares a day.  Don’t we all come to appreciate our kids more when they’re gone away at camp?

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Shearing Day

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Unplanned Pregnancy

Bet that got your attention.  To be clear, the pregnancy is not mine, thank goodness, but Garnet’s.  Seems she’s quite the Fertile Myrtle.  My highly-advanced shepherdess ciphering indicates she conceived these little sweeties just a month after her ram lamb was born.  Wowee.  She’s due for a nice, long, breeding-free vacation.  But neither she nor we would wish away these delightful twin lambs.  Sophia is the freckle-nosed ewe; her brother Shall Not Be Named.

I was utterly and blissfully unaware that Garnet was laboring.  I had suspected she was near her due date, but was currently being steamrolled by a combination Chicken Butchering / Death in the Family punch in the face.  Had I known she was in labor and felt the slightest inclination to drop everything and help her…I’d be writing this post from the padded confines of the Deep End, where I surely would have plummeted.  That said, once the lambs were discovered (Isadora: Mom! You’re never going to believe this, but Garnet has had twins!) little Sophia seemed a bit lethargic.  I couldn’t quite tell if she was eating well enough.  Then I realized she was too weak to stand and I kicked into Sheep Midwife gear and gave her some warmed colostrum from the freezer via a rubber tube that I carefully guided down her throat.  Then I worried. A lot.

But she bounced back, quite literally, and has stolen our hearts.

OH! I just remembered that I promised you a recap of shearing.  I think that should be possible before the week is through.

fighting over the one teat that’s exposed

With Munson, for reference.


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Mister Munson

Munson-in-film exists only at arm’s length or closer; there shall exist no shots of him from any real distance from the camera because once your presence is detected, he’s at your side in a flash.  Steady, true Munson.  He’s a dear.  95% of his time is spent as a sheep, with the sheep on pasture, learning to graze.  In the slim 5% margin left, he’s at our side – drinking from the bottle, assisting Daddio in his garage workshop, climbing the trailers with the kids, or poking through the garden with Momma.  We’re so glad he’s here, despite his sad entry into our home. But now that he is, we’ve integrated him nicely into the workings of the farm, and we’ve discovered some interesting possibilities as well.  We’re a 4-H family now, gleefully, and we’ve just received our book of entry possibilities for the summer fair.  One entry in particular has gotten our attention:  The Class U Sheep Costume Class, which involves adorning a sheep in a costume.  I know I haven’t properly represented our collective love for creative costumes in this blog space, save for our yearly cowboy/square dance attire at the Sugar Maple Music Fest, so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say that we get into making costumes in a big way.  That we can apply that creativity to a sheep and then parade it around the show ring at the county fair?  Oh. Can’t tell you how it’s begun to capture our imagination.  Can’t even begin.  Stay tuned to this one, folks.  The outcome is quite promising.

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Pasture reclamation



one… blast off!

The purging power of fire has reduced a mountain of junk wood to ash.  Never fear – I didn’t want to waste a single useful piece either.  I spent hours one day sorting out the useful bits from the soft, punky, crumbling-in-place bits and set those aside before the flames hit.  What I wouldn’t give for a pack of worker bees to swoop in and clear out the ash, top with mulch, and sow some pasture seeds! Barring that option, we turn our attention briefly to other tasks while our muscles regroup.  Meanwhile, the sheep grow nervous while the pasture is eaten faster than the rains replenish it.

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Sorry to have left you munsoned.

Hello friends.  I’ve missed you.  I’ve missed this space, missed the shining window of time that I used to take to ruminate on whatever was top-most on my mind.  I hope to take that back very soon.  You see, I’ve met my limits.  Face on.  And had them blow up all over the place, leaving me as a deer in the headlights, shaken and not knowing where to begin to start digging out of the mess.

Trying to take on too many things at once is predominantly a Spring disease, I think.  Gosh – I hope it’s limited to Spring.  Starting seeds, getting and raising chicks, lambing, business management, tilling and planting the new-and-improved-garden, building a website from scratch, returning phone calls and emails, brushing hair and teeth…it all becomes quite overwhelming if attempted at the same time.  For me, at least.  I know you understand how this blog, any blog, can only represent a miniscule sliver of the whole of the life it describes.  I know you understand that when I post about some domestic achievement, you can’t necessarily see the pile of dirty laundry, frozen pizzas, hot school lunches that lift up that achievement and make it possible.  I know, too, that you understand that I work hard to not only portray the happy-shiny aspects of this day-to-day, but that I try hard to keep it real and also highlight areas where I haven’t gotten it quite right.  My goal, however, is balance.  All of the posts I’ve mentally written in the last, oh, 17 days have been about the particular challenges that have been bogging me down.  It seemed like all of that brash honesty would have taken this blog down a weighty negative path.  For this reason, and for the sheer fact that I’ve been in a tailspin, not knowing which end was up, I decided to shut up.

But I do miss you, I miss the community we’ve created here and the insights we’ve shared.  So I’m popping my head in for a brief moment to say so and also to introduce you to the newest member of the Acres.  His story is a sad one, folks, as he is an orphan.  His mom was sweet Violet – a brave, lovely little ewe who went through pure hell to birth him and in the days after his arrival.  We lost her to complications of lambing.  Despite his unfortunate start, he’s a bright strong ram lamb – a bottle lamb now, splitting his time between the house, where he fits in like another pug, and the pasture, where he’s desperately trying to find his place in the complicated social hierarchy.  His name, I concede officially, is Munson, a reference from the movie Kingpin.  Captain Daddio penned the name, of course, and it was swiftly adopted by coercion.  It is fitting, of course, but still I have reservations and concede only because I’m grossly outnumbered.  Such is farm democracy, no?  That he is a ram lamb even getting a name should speak to his fate.

Without further ado, I present Munson.

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The Vicarious Farmer: Salad Fever

It’s looking to be quite the farmy week, folks.  Join me vicariously, won’t you?


Welcome back to The Vicarious Farmer.  It’s a bite-size serving of farmdom, featuring a fresh photo from the Acres and a pocket full of words to ruminate on.

The Vicarious Farmer is you.  Imagine yourself perched on my shoulder for a snapshot of the day-to-day goings-on of this little farmette –  the idyllic and the banal.

About this time of year, the lifeless bales of hay begin to take on the same tedious feel as the last bunch of root vegetables in the people-larder.  After a winter of eating nothing but pale, dried grass (or an endless parade of squash) any blade of green poking through the mat of last year’s growth is nibbled up in a heartbeat.  If you’re an ungulate, right about now is when you’ve reached your limit of boring dried hay, and right about now, any new grass peeking through is inhaled much faster than it’s able to grow.  Enough.  You’ll do anything to get at that lush greenery just outside of your confined area.  Now’s a good time to find a breach in the fence and bust outta there.  The yahoo shepherdess in charge will likely reward you with some dried corn, too, just to lure you back in.  Seems like the perfect way to spend the better part of a Sunday.  And Sunday night.  And Monday morning.

Maybe you vicarious farmers will more quickly see the urgency of moving the flock to fresh greens, and thus save yourself the hassle of rounding up the marauding flock again and again. It’s the route I’d recommend.

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This yarn, born from these very Acres, is mouth-wateringly delicious.  Knitting with it, as I work up a swatch for a pattern design, is pure visceral joy.  How nice it is to have this option at the ready for times when I’m too restless to spin – nice to still be able to commune with these fibers and regain my grounding.

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It’s shaping up to be a monumental year.

I celebrated my birthday yesterday by lounging around in floppy clothes and knitting nearly nonstop.  I shared and loved this cake, made by my three sweeties.  It was a good day.

Some things that might make this thirty-fourth year stand out from those previous:

+ My days of changing diapers are through.  That Boy is wearing Big Boy Underwear!  This is the same Boy who prefaces every new clothing acquisition with “did you make this for me?”  No, dear Boy, I did not make those underwear for you – we bought them at the store last night, remember?  “Oh yeah – that really made my heart smile when you got me more Big Boy Underwear.”

+ My Girl is sometimes so engrossed in reading that I have to repeat questions addressed to her.  Her nightstand is at this moment overflowing with an eclectic mix of Beatrix Potter, The Magic Treehouse, and various other chapter books.  She enjoys reading to herself at night, until her “eyebrows get heavy.”

+ I’m doggedly spinning my way through the delicious 2011 vintage of wool – born, shorn and dyed on these very Acres. I can’t wait to get them on the market and into your hands – they’re so lovely and soft.

+ I’m over-the-moon-relieved to have sent Sam the Sham (above) and Stan the Goat to greener pastures.  Sam’s services were no longer required; Stan required more than I could give, a problem compounded by his status as Non-Contributing Inventory.  A heaving sigh was heard across the land as the trailer left the driveway, carting them both to new adventures.

+ I’m hard at work on a complete redesign of the virtual Five Green Acres.  As you might imagine, this involves some sewing and cutting and digital magic.  Stay tuned.

+ Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. At least a page a day, just like I promised.

It’s good to be alive.

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Woolen Spider

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