Thursday, May 31, 2007

Surprise Newborn Chicks Again!

It's 94 in the shade on my milk room porch. May 31 in Upstate New York? Hmmmmm. Everybody seems fine...the flies are back in force. Have to get some sticky tapes, and more eucalyptus oil to spray around the trailer. The flies slept on the ceiling above me last night, good thing they hang on okay. I pulled the cot out too far before I made the bed and it collapsed under me and the dogs when I got in bed. I was too tired to make them get up, strip the bed and fix it. What a night, sleeping in the V slant. Tanner managed to pull the blankets off, and it was actually cold! Then this heat wave today? The farmers are out in force getting hay in. Every field I passed had a tractor going on it today. Smart people! It's supposed to rain all next week. I worried about everybody having enough water today while I was at work. Have to get floaters that fill the tanks back up when they go down. That would also prevent me from flooding the barn every time I go to check my email while I'm filling up the tank! While I was walking to the other end of the barn I heard a peep-peep-peep around the same spot where I found the mother nesting in the ceiling a few weeks ago. Low and behold there was a little newborn chick on the hay. Glad I didn't step on it. When I stood on tip toes there was another mother hatching eggs in the same spot under the ceiling! Have to figure out a way to secure that nest so the chicks don't fall out and (perish the thought) the cats don't get them. I don't want to move the eggs while there are more to hatch. Might upset the whole business. I love newborn chicks, and the skill of the hens in raising them is astonishing and inspirational. If I buy chicks from the hatchery I have to use all kinds of equipment to keep them warm, fed, watered, contained, etc. The hens do all that so easily, and relish every moment. I think chickens made America what it is today! Eggs, meat (not me), beauty and entertainment galore. AND they eat the little bugs in the grass so you never have to put chemicals on your lawn. Not that I ever did anyway. When I lived in a fancy development in Morristown, neighbors constantly had trucks coming in to spray lethal stuff on their lawns. Mine was au natural and just as pretty, especially when I didn't mow it and all the pretty flowers sprouted!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Eric!

Once there was a little boy who loved Tonka trucks, Corgi toys, and Big Wheels - as a matter of fact, he loved anything with wheels. He saw his uncle changing some tires once and decided all the wheels had to come off his toys. It became a problem because the wheels would get lost and he couldn't make his toys go. He was the first grandchild in our family and was loved and adored. Eric was a happy child and was always smiling. People loved this happy, happy boy. Eric got so many presents for Christmas he had to be shaken awake to open more presents. His mother was a real peace-nik and wouldn't let Eric have any guns...but his Pop-Pop was a pistol champion in the Army and let Eric play with his guns. Eric joined the Boy Scouts and worked very hard to become an Eagle Scout. As soon as Eric grew up he joined the Army without telling his mother. She almost fainted when the recruiter came to the door and told her Eric had joined the Army at the age of 17, and would she please sign these papers. You see Eric's father had been drafted and gone to Vietnam to do his patriotic duty and was almost ready to come home when he was shot, in a face to face shoot out with a NVA soldier. This made everyone very sad, and nobody was anxious for the same thing to happen to Eric. But Eric had joined the Army and finally he could play with all the guns he wanted. Eric went to the Virginia Military Institute and graduated with honors. The Army sent him to Combat Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood and Eric played little boy games, only for real. He built bridges and blowed them up, and had lots of fun with things like that. The Army sent Eric to Fort Knox in Kentucky, where he met Annie when she waited on him in a restaurant. He had just arrived in Louisville, and walked into the restaurant in his Army uniform. Eric looked like a cross between Brad Pitt and James Dean and Leonardo DiCaprio, so no wonder Annie wanted to wait on his table. She even offered to put him up in her apartment. When he told me he was moving in with Annie, I said, "Don't move in with her unless you are going to marry her," and guess what? He married her! And now they have Hannah and Luke, the cutest kids in the whole wide world! And they all are living happily ever after! Happy, happy birthday, Eric Alexander!

A Mother's Love

Where could be more safe and cozy than under a mother hen's wings? Wish there was room for me!

Guess Who's Not Going Out to Graze

I took them out to graze last night, gorgeous night, almost full moon, it was lovely...until it was dark and time to go back into the safety of the barnyard. I got the corn bucket out and rang the bell but only half of them came in. Quiet panic set in as I realized they were totally ignoring me. If I opened the gate to get the refusniks in, the sheep I already captured would get out - in fact, they were waiting to go back out. I needed another person to keep them in while I went out and chased the others in. I thought maybe I can get them in the barn and shut them in. Ran to get more grain and put it out in bowls in the barn - rang the bell and they came...but when I tried to run back to the door to put up the gate, they ran out again, carrying me along in the wave. Half my flock, with all the lambs, and the llamas were outside. What to do, what to do...I decide to scare the inside sheep to the back fence, run outside and try to scare the outsiders in. I was running around like a crazy woman, waving my staff, yelling and trying to chase them in. The field around the pen is filled with rabbit and groundhog holes, and holes the dogs have dug to hide their bones. Great, I thought, another fracture. I have already broken my left leg and foot in freaky accidents - don't need to be laid up now. Luckily I got some of them in, chased the inside crew way back in, opened the gate and got more in, chased them all back in. Took three times. Llamas are still out, and you know what? They can stay out. Fell in my bed at 11 PM and I'm still tired after work today. The sheep can eat the round bales. They are yelling over the fence to get out as I write this, but too bad. I'm not letting them out until I have another person here to help get them in, or until proper fencing is up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Coming Soon...

This is my new house, under construction. I will have the full afternoon sun to light the apartment and my sewing room, the first work room I have had to myself in my entire life. I have always sewed in the worst places - on a crowded kitchen table, in the laundry room, or a back bedroom squeezed in next to a bed, pinning the sheets with the fabric every time I cut something out. When I get tired of working I can wander through the rest of the barn, or take a walk up the hill and play with the sheep. It can't happen fast enough. I do have to get up there and straighten out that chimney!

Big Barn Doors

I love these barn doors. They were built in the 1930's and open to the inside. I can just imagine a horse drawn wagon being backed up the ramp to unload hay with the big hook and ropes still hanging in the barn. There is a giant flat board I can put on the inside of the door to barricade myself in, like when the aliens landed in my favorite movie, "Signs." I hope to have this part of the barn filled with hay by the end of the summer.

Finn and Knut

I brought home new bones for Finn and Knut today. They are in heaven with these "all natural smoked leg bones." I used to pay twice as much for the same bones in New Jersey. They last forever and are great for the doggie's teeth. It also gives them something to do while they are living under the big pine tree next to the field. I hate keeping them tied up but for now, it has to be this way. When I get them fixed and we get sturdy fencing up I will let them go. Thor is the only one who is loose and does "close guarding" Maremma style. They all have Great Pyrennees in them, also known as "Disappear." Have you ever seen a big dog climb straight up and over a fence? They can do it! They can also turn themselves into noodles and squeeze through a small space. You have to see it to believe it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Doggie Friends

While we were out grazing today I got some good pix of the doggies. Jackie even climbed the hill to join us in our Chinese Memorial Day picnic. Gee, some of us are getting gray...including the humans in our family. Matt is heading back to NJ tonight. Hate to lose my second pair of hands (and arms, legs, feet, etc.) Matt doesn't care for the hands-on part of raising critters. He will drive anywhere, haul anything, do all the heavy lifting, etc., but when it comes to catching and holding them while I work on them - well, let's say he would rather be doing other things. The doggies are always willing to help, but they can only do so much.

Colorful Kitties

This box of moms and kitties is under the table right next to my computer chair. I can't get over how beautiful they all are together. They will be very docile kitties, as I can't stop playing with them. Right now I even have little Velvet, my bottle doe kid, under the chair. We just came in from grazing. Matt brought Chinese home and we ate it sitting in the field. What a glorious setting, and the doggies joined us. No holiday barbecues for us, but it's been that way for years. Moving three times in eight years doesn't allow much opportunity for making friends. Having a flock of sheep and all the other critters doesn't allow for much entertaining, either. We are hoping to have the neighbors in when the barn apt. is finished. We'll see...

Time to Remember

I have a lot to take pride in today. I come from a long line of warriors on my mother's side. Her folks came to this country a hundred years before the Revolution and fought in the colonial wars. AJ once said to me, Mom, your folks built this country. Could any mother ask for more poignant recognition? Suddenly, my Republican Motherhood was validated! Both my boys joined the Army and served their country. They were brought up on stories of service and heroism. Mia is doing her own public service with her decision to pursue a nursing career. Eric is a career Boy Scout, and AJ is still in the Army, working on a degree in public administration, and another in non-demoninational ministry. I could die tomorrow with the satisfaction of raising three patriotic public-serving citizens. (I do hope to stick around a little longer, four score and ten would suit me just fine.) Matt and I went to visit the grave site of Charles Chesebrough, a Union Army veteran who managed to make it home and die of his wounds, and is buried here on the farm. Chris Kupris told me of how the lead plate on his coffin rose to the surface. He rests beside the farmhouse, which we do not own, or I would erect a memorial to him. Chris tells me the cows would not stand on the spot because they could smell death. For now, a flag will have to do.

Dry and Ready to Knit

It was a great day to dry fiber yesterday. The heat and wind did the job in no time. This yarn is beautiful but definitely not for next to the skin wear due to the mohair content. Socks, maybe? Sweater? I'll knit a swatch and see what it looks like. Feels so good to be spinning again.

Shelter From the Storm

The storm came in just as I had taken the flock out to graze yesterday. It was wild to see the thunder claps make the llamas bolt. The goats were the first to stampede into the barn when the rain hit. They hate to get wet. The sheep and llamas followed them in. Luckily I had the tarps over the round bales and Woody took advantage of the cover.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

New Handspun

One nice thing about sitting at the Farmer's Market for the morning is getting to spin, spin, spin. I am stuck there with my spinning wheel, what a gift! People love it and bring their kids over to show them how their clothing used to be made. I got this hank plied and put my dish network satellite to good use. It is mohair, wool and angora, slightly overspun and rather tightly plied, which I seem to be doing lately. It is extrememly springy, ala Bluefaced Leicester, and a delicious mix of pinks, purples and sea foam (Rit Dye) green. Yummy! What a fabulous pair of socks this would make, or a cardigan sweater. Don't think it can be work next to the skin because of the slightly coarse mohair. I will have to send Leslie, my incredibly wonderful web mother, a picture to put on the site.

Any Bit of Shade Will Do...

One of the Goatie Boys (he is either Nils or Lars, I can't tell anymore) is using my sheep show trailer for a little shade. Their run-in section of the barn must be full. This was my second trailer, purchased from Doreen Keller of North Country Spinners. I was going to live in this one until the barn was ready, but Matt brought home the bigger one, purchased from some cantaloupe farmers in New Jersey. The big one will go to Will, my pig farmer neighbor, to be used as a logging/hunting trailer in exchange for some firewood. I have another trailer, a 1962 Shasta, still in the field in Williams Township, Pa. I used it for lambing when I had no barn. It felt so weird, to be holed up in my tiny trailer with no heat or water, surrounded by developments filled with luxurious vinyl boxes. I am so happy to be out of there...people would pull up at the fence and watch me tending to the sheep. I hated that. Around here people have their own critters to tend to and I feel much more at home.

Working Hard on our New Home

Big Daddy is sanding the floor in the barn apartment, getting ready to put the polyurethane coating on the beautiful pine floor. I don't know if two coats is enough, with my crowd of critters. Matt is doing such a good job, hand sanding rough spots left by the big sander. Steve brought it over before he went on vacation with Kelly and the kids. What dear friends they are, helping us get under a real roof as quickly as possible. Matt told me to leave him alone today...fine with me. I kept him running all day yesterday with picking up round bales and going south to get my new ram and ewes. It had to be done - I purchased the little guy a year ago and Kathy Davidson graciously held him for me all this time...but enough is enough, and she has her own sheep to feed. That pine floor feels divine under my bare feet. Matt has proclaimed there won't be any cat boxes in "his" apartment. I completely understand...we can install a kitty/dog door and keep a couple of boxes in the rest of the 18,000 square feet that makes up our barn.

Thunderstorms All Day

I slept for seven blessed hours. Only woke up once to check what was on TV - a terrible nervous habit of mine. It's as if I am still waking up to check on my baby twins, 26 years ago. I stumbled out of the trailer with the dogs and walked the few feet over to the boys pen behind the silos to check on the new sheep. All three were lying together near the far fence. I like getting more than one new animal from the same flock, that way they have each other to hang with. They looked fine and I watched until they went over to the round bale to eat. The high % ewe, Linnea, got away from us before she got her shots yesterday. She jumped and sailed off the back of the pick up, like a deer. Young sheep are like that. I got two of the round bales in the big pen covered. I hate hay to get rained on. I don't have another tarp for the third. Have to get in the boy's pen and get their bale covered. Weather channel says rain all day, but it's sunny here. That can change in minutes. I keep musing about the farmer's market. One nice older lady came by to ask if I had any WOOL hats? I told her I would be making some and she said great, she would be back. Another vendor had tried to sell her an acrylic yarn hat, and she didn't want it because acrylic doesn't keep you warm. I said THANK YOU, MA'AM. It was very gratifying to hear a "civilian" that understands the difference between acrylic and natural fibers. Some people just don't get it!
Little Chip is still hanging on. He perked up a bit but is not eating well. I am tired of forcing milk replacer on him. He will nibble a little corn and pellets, though. I carried him out of the barn and put him on the green grass, which he nuzzled but didn't eat. Have to give him more Vit. B and Nutri Drench. I won't give up on him, I hope he doesn't give up on himself. Legolas is looking better since I dragged him out from half under the trailer that blistering hot day last week. I spotted him when I was running for the truck to go to work and quickly went into "failsafe" mode - I see reasons to stay home but put them out of my mind or I wouldn't be able to leave. The job keeps us all alive and the mission is to get there. I tried not to worry about him and kept busy at school, but when I got home he was still there, lying flat. Fortunately he is about 200 lbs, not 300 like some rams. I got him across the yard out of the sun and into the barn where I forced cool water with molasses into him. After nursing him a day or two I decided to cut a hole in the wall of the pen (gates were locked in with hay build up) and let him into the lush green back field. He started eating the green stuff and hasn't stopped since. It gave him the runs but saved his life, I think. He hasn't run away, I hope, although I can't spot him this morning. Don't think he will leave the ewes. I remember reading about the Vikings keeping their sheep inside with them all winter. By spring they had to be carried outside and laid on the green grass. Better get mine out on the green grass before it storms.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Meet Wooster, Amber and Linnea

When I got home from the Hamilton Farmer's Market my brand new registered purebred Bluefaced Leicester ram, Wooster, was waiting for me, along with a registered yearling ewe, Amber. Wooster is from United Kingdom stock and will put some good new blood into my flock. Kathy Davidson of Potosi Farm in Glen Rock, Pa. raises gorgeous purebred BFL's, and Legolas is bred out, so enter Wooster. Kathy is having a heck of a time with drought there and her pasture is pretty thin, so she gave me a good deal on another "high percentage" ewe who I will call Linnea. (It was the birthday of the Swedish botanist Linneaus last week.) I am thrilled with the sheep. After working 10 hours yesterday and driving 4 hours home last night in holiday traffic, Matt got back on the highway today to meet Kathy in Scranton. She was delivering sheep to Port Jervis and since she was heading north, we made the arrangements. He got caught up in accident delays both times. I am so grateful to Matt and Kathy for making this happen for me. Look at those blue faces and gorgeous fleece on Wooster! I better go check on them...

Hamilton Farmers Market

My first day at the Hamilton Farmers Market went well. The weather was absolutely perfect. It was difficult to get up at five, do chores, pack the truck and leave at 7:30. I was sure the market would be full of customers already, but I got there in plenty of time. Gretchen and Laurie from school hadn't arrived to set up their booth yet, and many vendors came after me. People were interested in what I had, and I know now what I need to do to be successful at this market over the summer. After all, this is my summer job and I have to make the most of it. Smaller, less expensive bags, more unscented soap, and hand creme are at the top of the list. Funny, I didn't sell a single farm photo note card. I guess there are so many people around here who have their own farm animals, the cards were not a hot item. I usually sell at least a few chicken cards!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Llamas

When I think of how Chris and Breeze were living when I found them, compared to the life they have now, I am so very satisfied and happy for them. It gives me shivers to see them lying in a sea of green grass, with springs to drink from and shade trees to lie down under, and acres of hills and fields to run and play in. The boys were living in a small patch of front yard along with 29 other llamas. The females had the only shelter and the boys were exposed to blistering sun and winter storms. The nice lady who sold them to me was coaxed into llama farming by her husband, then realized she had no time for it. She was home schooling four little kids and trying to keep up with all those llamas. Unfortunately, Chris and Breeze were never handled when they were young, and don't want to be touched now. They look at me as if to say, "Okay, lady - put the food down, back away slowly, and nobody will get hurt!" They never spit and are very well behaved llamas, so I put up with their testiness. Their incredible beauty lets them get away with being a bit contrary toward humans - but that's okay because they LOVE the sheep and goats, and that is their live with and guard the flock. I started halter training and worked with them while we were still in Pa. and have to build holding pens for them here. That way I can put grain in the pen to lure them in, shut the gate, and begin stroking them slowly, more and more every day until they are used to it. This way I can also trim their toes and give their vaccinations and worm shots. Someday I want more llamas who have been properly brought up to be loved by humans. Llamas are very beautiful to me, and I want to hug them and stroke their backs and bellies. Chris and Breeze don't want anything of the kind!

Let Us Out!

Raring to go, they await the opening of the gate. For the second night in a row the vigilant shepherd grazing worked fine. Nobody made a run for the road, and they didn't get too far up the hill, either. For now there is plenty to eat on the lower part of the hill, with the briars and brambles for the goats along the apple orchard. I couldn't help but go into a zenlike state, with all the worries and woes of the workaday world fading away. The ultimate bucolic setting was before my very eyes - incredible beauty every where I turned. The couple of times I had to walk up the hill to coax them down, I hit my staff and extra stick on the grass instead of extending my arms out with them. The sound of something in the grass made them move along better - fear of predators in the tall grass? Two sheep managed to get away from me, but they followed Chris and Breeze so I left them alone. When I thought they had enough to eat I ran for the 50 lb bag of corn and the bell. They anticipated what I was going to do and started to come in even before I had time to open the bag. Sheep are such creatures of habit! When they were finished gobbling up the corn - it only takes a minute or two - they ran back up to the gate to go out in the field again. I felt like a heel keeping them in. Someday soon we will have the proper fencing up to keep them out, with Chris, Breeze and the White Boys on duty. I think I will bring a folding chair out with me tomorrow night. The grazing takes time, and with so many other chores to do it makes a late night for me. I ate a little dinner at 9:30 and here I am. So many lives to take care of, doggies, hay mow kitties, outside kitties, bunnies, chickens, sick lamb, sick ram, ewe looking sick, tackled her and gave her worm and vitamin B shots, there's no end to it. Any time for me? But it's all for me and this is the life I chose. It kind of ran away with me - but when I think of how the flock looked out in the field on the hill, with the sun going down and mist on the valley, and how I wanted to freeze the moment in time, it's all worth it. So very worth it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Old Time Shepherd

My plan worked. Stand between the flock and the road, and don't let them climb too far up the hill. It took a bit of huffing and puffing, because the sheep downhill would start grazing toward the road while I was up the hill pushing the others down. The goats ran right for the rose bushes and brush, in typical goatie fashion. That's okay, they will have plenty of it when we fence off goatland in the back. Izzy was on a leash for the first time which proved to be a problem. He kept lying down and wouldn't move, so his collar would pop off. I finally ran him and the other dogs down to the trailer. More huffing and puffing. When they had grazed about an hour and a half I decided I had enough and went to get the bag of corn and bell. It worked like a charm. I poured a long line, enough to accomodate sheep and goats, across the paddock on the ground, then rang the bell. Some started in, then finally a stampede. Five sheep who had started down the driveway came back too. The llamas even came in. One ewe got confused about which gate to come in and is still out. Tried to get her in but risked losing the others. She will probably lie up against the fence tonight. Thor is there so I'm not worried. The flock has bellies full of good green grass and I feel like I deserve my dinner tonight. I never get tired of the views, front and back. Other farms may have better hay fields, etc., but my farm has diversity and character. So much to rest my eyes on.

It's Hot!

My thermometer in the shade of the milk room door says 86F but it feels hotter. School is nicely air conditioned, but I had to come home. The doggies are in the trailer during the day (seven of them) with the windows open and the fan going. I worried about them all day but they seemed fine when I got home. Maybe the heat made them sleep better? The sheep are mostly outside, a surprise since the barn is open and quite cool - until it heats up with the onset of summer. I am getting ready to graze them outside the pen, something I haven't done alone. Our fencing is not up but the grass is, and I want them to eat it. I went to Homestead and bought some cracked corn. My plan is to let them out, stand between them and the road, let them graze and keep them from going too far up the hill. I will have Izzy on a leash just in case. The sheep hate him because he runs faster than they can focus on him, very scary for sheep. He also bites their legs to get them to move, something a good Border Collie would never be permitted to do in trials. I hope Izzy remembers that the pen is where I want him to move them. Izzy sometimes gets excited and runs them all around. If the Izzy plan doesn't work, I will run in the barn, get the 50 lb. bag of corn and the food bell, and spread the corn out in a line across the pen area, then ring the bell. The trick is to get a few of them coming in, and the rest usually follow. Corn is like chocolate to them. After all that, I am planning on cutting out a bag or two tonight. Matt went back to NJ to work on the "Enchanted Forest" horse farm roof. The roof is rolling in waves, with cedar shakes soaked in water and attached like thatch to the tar paper. Very interesting. Matt says his feet don't hurt too badly, standing on ripples all day bending over. I'm glad I'm working in an air conditioned school all day. Only a month left of school. Liberating but scary. I will have to work like crazy to make product for fall shows. Thank Goodness for the shows.

Business As Usual

Back to normal on the farm - if it can be called normal. Already this morning I have tended to a sick lamb. Little Chip did not make the transition from bottle to hay very well. I found him unable to stand, ears back, very weak. Vitamin E, selenium, B complex and bottle feeding made him a little stronger over night. It's hard to get them back once they go down, but I try. After taking care of Chip I thought I better walk out and check the sheep. Sure enough, there was a ewe all tangled up in the round bale cord. If I had not found her she would have been lying in the hot sun with no water, struggling all day. Whew! Another disaster accidentally diverted. Legolas, my ram and father of all the lambs, looks terrible. He hasn't looked good since he was tangled up in the feeder he had climbed on top of and gotten his hoofs caught in. I'm sure he pulled muscles and ligaments. The euphoria of Mia's graduation and celebration are still there, and I'll try to hang on to them as long as possible. I miss Mia and AJ terribly. The farm helps fill the incredible void left when our little family broke up nine years ago. Back to work then off to work I go...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What's A Little Naturally Blonde Girl to Do?

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was so frustrated because she just didn't know what to do with the rest of her life. She went from university to university, changing majors and boyfriends, searching for some meaning in her life. Then, while at the third college, she thought she would take some time off and work in a hospital. After all, there were medical people on both sides of her family. Maybe, just maybe, something will "click." Her brother had joined the Army and was doing courageous and heroic things, like braving basic training in the deep south among water moccasins and ferocious drill sergeants, dangerous deployment overseas, and basically making a man out of himself. She had to do something big, and do it fast! Mia got a job as a nurse's aide in the bone marrow transplant center at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, close to Rutgers where she was going to school and living with her childhood buddy, Lisa. The job fit Mia like a hand in a glove. She loved helping people come to terms with their terminal illnesses, and keeping them as comfortable as possible with her gentle touch and soothing voice. Mia did all the worst jobs in the unit - to help the nurses, and to convince herself that this was the niche in life she was looking for. Once Mia decided she wanted to pursue a career in medicine, she had to find a program and take all kinds of horrible, scary, difficult courses - like organic chemistry, statistics and pharmacology. It was tough, and there were times when the going was rough. Weaker students fell by the roadside, but not my Mia. She organized study groups and worked long hard hours, mastering concepts I can only wonder about. Many students asked Mia for help, and gravitated toward her because of her positive attitude and "over the top, girls!" enthusiasm. And then the big day came...

And Here She Is!!

Newly pinned as an RN BSN and beaming with happiness at her successful completion of a rigorous accelerated nursing program, Mia is ready to brave the world of medicine. The graduation ceremony at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center was meaningful and efficient, just the kind of affair a group of capable nurses from UMDNJ would put on. Mia had a whole row of family and friends - in the first row even! Mia's best and longest friends in the world were there. Lisa Palmer came from Los Angeles where she moved after graduating from Rutgers to teach English as a second language. Jenny came all the way from Hoboken to Newark to cheer Mia on. Jenny and Lisa have known Mia since kindergarten at Hillcrest School in Morristown. Kerry came from Burlington, where she and Mia attended the Univ. of Vermont. AJ, Twin B, flew in from Nevada, where his National Guard unit had recently completed a weekend of Op-Force Training in the Valley of Fire (aptly named he tells me). So much love and devotion from family and friends. Mia worked very hard and never lost sight of her goal. There was no way she could fail. The world is a better place for having Mia at the bedside of the sick and dying. And she's not finished yet - Mia has ten credits toward her Master of Science in Nursing degree. So I expect we will all be back in Newark together for another graduation, God willing, in two years. Morristown Memorial Hospital, where Mia was recently hired to work after she passes her nursing boards, will pay for the degree. Way to go, Mia!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mia's Graduation Present

Tomorrow, my Mia will be pinned as an RN, BSN at NJPAC in Newark, N.J. We are heading off in the morning and have to be at the Performing Arts Center at 2, with the pinning at 4, and dinner at 7. With a four hour trip home, Maggie and Matt will be two tired but happy campers. Mia's friends from pre-kindergarten, Jenny and Lisa will be there to help celebrate. AJ is flying in from Vegas, and I will meet Mia's new friend, Rob, for the first time. I'm happy that she has a "date" for her graduation. I have to be back at work on Tuesday morning. I was wondering how I was going to accomplish that, with morning chores, etc. after getting home so late. Then I heard that Lisa has to be back in her classroom in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, too! Matt has to return to NJ to work in Tewksbury on Tuesday morning, too! Oh, well, our joy at Mia's success will see us all through the next day! I bartered one of my bags for a Dianne Edwards bag. It is exquisitely stunning. Here are pictures from all angles. Every inch of it is extraordinary artistry. Mia has many bags I made for her over the years, and I wanted her to have something different to put in her back pack when she sets off to Europe in two weeks. I've included a little $$ in the hidden cell phone pocket to help her with trip expenses. Off to check the critters. I told Mattie I would watch the Sopranos with him. He likes to point out landmarks in Newark they always have on the show. Matt was born and raised in Sopranos land - and we are headed there tomorrow for Mia's ceremony! With her new job at Morristown Memorial, she won't have to head over to Newark any more. Fine with me!

Bottoms Up!

Matt brought home more round bales for the coming week, always a cause for celebration in the flock. Rain was threatening so we covered them up. No problem for the lambs!

Happy Birthday Janipat!

Jan and I met when she was working as a substitute at Voorhees High School in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Jan could be counted on to keep the worst class in line. She didn't take any nonsense. After all, Jan was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Jan is a doctor's daughter, and has all the trappings of that kind of upbringing - she sleeps on a $3,000 mattress, surrounded by a dozen piece bedroom set of black lacquered Chinese style furniture, with bright red Egyptian cotton sheets. Her personal bathroom is bigger than my trailer, and has a clamshell jacuzzi under a cathedral ceiling. But Jan is not a powder puff kind of girl - she likes to get down and dirty on the farm, and is a great hand when it comes to sheep shearing. You should see her with a crook in her hands and that "just try to get past me" expression on her face. Jan and I have been fast friends for a couple of years now. She was hired on as a full time aide, taking care of students who require great sensitivity and creativity with their academic needs. I know Voorhees is not happy about the fact that I am trying to seduce Jan and her husband, Dave, to move up here to the North Country with me. Dave is retired from ATT and has told Jan that this time, yes, this time, Jan can pick where they are to move. You see, Jan has been the faithful executive's wife and dragged the family all over the place for the sake of hubby's career. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Jan's scheming and planning works out and I can run across the road in my jammies to have coffee with her at day break, and we can pack up and take off to sheep festivals together. What fun we could's to wishing and hoping, and many more happy birthdays to a dear, dear, friend!

First Day Out to Graze on Fields

We decided to let the sheep out to graze, even though all the fencing is not up. I couldn't take their longing gazes any longer, and they were wearing off the wool on their necks, squeezing through the pen. It was risky, but Matt and the dogs helped me keep them from crossing the road. I thought correctly that the fields on their own hill are thick enough to keep them occupied. We opened the pen but the sheep ran away...freedom can be a scary thing after being corralled all winter. I walked back and forth through the gate to show them they could follow. Finally, four ewes tiptoed cautiously over and started nibbling on the line of green grass. They stepped out and ate ravenously on the rich, lustrous greens. Others followed and the flock was out. Chris and Breeze led the way across the hill and they made it almost to the pond, moms calling for babies to stay close, babies who had lost their moms and were screaming in panic. The mom's mouths were too full to call back! We walked up the hill, circled around and started walking them back. I am afraid of bloat, and didn't want to risk those tummies getting too full of greens on the first day out. A taste for today is enough. Everything was going perfectly when Izzy decided to take over. He ran them all back into the pen, then shot back to us for praise. I was happy Izzy sensed our need and ran them in the right direction. You never know with Izzy, the homeless Rat Terrier turned Sheep Dog. By the way, Chris and Breeze are still out there, grazing by the upper pond. They will make a nice photo opportunity for the cars passing by today. I gave up trying to get them back in and, as I was walking back, I thought I saw a hoof go up in the air in a familiar gesture, llama style!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wild Horses...

I pass a field with a herd of horses every day on the way to work. Recently there was a foal born. They are breathtakingly beautiful and I always slow down to marvel at them. Today I happened to have my camera because we were on the way to Kelly's birthday party and was finally able get some shots. I may not be able to have my own horse just yet, but I have "adopted" many around Brookfield.