Monday, March 31, 2008
It was tough to come back from my home state last night...and it was a miserable day here weather-wise and work-wise. The kids were fine, but I'm having a tough time with the bureaucratic end of my job. Special ed. is frought with legal requirements and it's all about the right language on the paperwork. Freezing rain all day, and as I was trapped in my windowless closet all I could think about was the icy rain and the lambs shivering in it. I closed the pen door before I left for work to keep the bottle babies out of the rain. They don't have moms to tell them "it's time to come in now," and might linger too long at the round bales and get chilled. I kept thinking about the absolutely wonderful fantasy 24 hours I had with Mia in Morristown - visiting her friend, Lisa, who she's known since kindergarten and her mother. I had recently watched Gwyneth Paltrow in "Emma" again and was longing for some female tea party company. Matt is so deaf after a lifetime of construction work (just like old Mrs. Bates) I have to scream for him to hear me, then he's insulted that I am shouting at him. At Lisa's house it was just happy chatter, chatter, chatter with more high school friends, Laura and Tori, stopping in. Then it was off to Mia's apt. where Monika and Tim were waiting to meet me, and a comfy sofa to curl up in with knitting and movies - and my Mia. The flowers are blooming in Morristown, crocuses up, but no forsythia yet. In a week the ornamental pears and cherry trees will be out in Morristown, lining the whole main street. They are gorgeous against all the stone buildings and gothic churches. I am so homesick for my home town I don't know what to do. Mia will be setting up her Nurse Practitioner practice there and will undoubtedley stay for a long time. I'm sure I will be spending more time in New Jersey...I better go hug some lambs quick or I will start packing.
I sent these curtains to Morristown for Mia's bedroom. When I finally got to visit her and see how they look first hand, I found them to be too short. The plaid and color is great, but they are just too short for these nice, tall windows. Mia works nights at the hospital and the tired nurse needs curtains to help shut out the daylight so she can sleep. My bunny friend, Sally Campbell, sent me some gorgeous chintz and brocade fabric from an abandoned decorating project. I'm going to use it to do Mia's bedroom over, with new curtains, a duvet cover, and bed pillows.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I made a new friend this weekend - a gorgeous chocolate brown lab named Roxy. She lives with Mia and Monika in Morristown, and is adored by all their friends. Roxy wears a Gucci dog collar and has three baskets of toys. Her favorite one is a giant stuffed bunny Roxy received for Easter. The bunny was not doing well this morning, with Roxy pulling out the stuffing. I'm sure Roxy will receive more toys to play with, from her many adoring friends.
Mia lives in a lovely apartment in Morristown, N.J., in the same house she played in as a child with her friend Jenny Brady. Jenny's mom rents two upstairs apartments and one happened to be available just as Mia was graduating from nursing school. I visited her there for the first time today and was able to finally meet Monika, Mia's flatmate. It was long overdue, but it's tough to get away from the farm and I loved every minute of our visit.
When Mia comes to lend a hand everyone is thrilled. She helped feed the wild hoarde of bottle babies and whisked Maggie away to Morristown for a quick 24 hr. visit. Mia is giving me her old Jeep as she just bought herself a new Hyundai Elantra. The Jeep has got to get better gas mileage than the F150.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Winter is hanging on here in the way-back-yonder. Sheep may be grazing on green grass in New Jersey but Central New York will still have snow on the ground. I woke up to a lovely snow yesterday morning. Got the call about the delay, but didn't get the call when they decided to close school. Gretchen, Kelly and my supervisor all tried to get in touch with me, but I couldn't get the computer going and was so frazzled about being late for the delayed opening, I didn't check the voicemail...The empty parking lot was a puzzle, then I went inside and it was quiet. Oh, well, I had an apt with my principal and we were able to talk for a long time about what she wants my job to entail in the future. It was nice to hear she includes me in the "future." The office people have to go to work when it snows (raw deal if you ask me)so there were people to talk to. Gretchen wandered in (such an overachiever she is!) to do some work I was able to do some more of that overdue "special ed" stuff. A nauseous headache (stress?) overwhelmed me and I left around 2 to go into Norwich and pay my mortgage and stop at Tractor Supply for milk replacer and wormer. Made my way home via the post office to pick up a weeks worth of mail. When I am rushing home to the lambs six miles out of the way to pick up mail is too long. The lambs will be growing up and I won't hear screams for milk every time I open the apt. door...can't imagine that now but it will happen, won't it?
I woke up this morning thinking about how all three of my kids are now set for life with recession-proof jobs. Whew, what a relief. This precarious economy is just awful. We hear so much about people losing their homes on the news, but rarely do we see their faces. I saw a profile of a family that lost their house and is living in a little trailer outside of town. I can't imagine raising kids out of a trailer but plenty of people do it. AJ will be shopping for a condo in Las Vegas so he can have a place to call his own. He's been living with Eric and Annie, then in an efficiency apt. I know he liked that because there was maid service, just like back home when Mommy came in and picked up all the dirty laundry off the floor. It appeared back in the drawers like magic, all clean and folded up. Eric says you can buy $600k condos for $100k in LV now. I will gladly fly out there and do his laundry, for a few days in Sin City, and time with Hannah and Luke. I don't drink or gamble but I love the glitzy lights and absolutely go wild over the surrounding mountains and desert.
Friday, March 28, 2008
AJ was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army National Guard today. He is now a Chaplain Designate for the State of Nevada. I am so very proud of him. He'll go to Chaplain's basic training this summer and be a full-fledged chaplain in the Army. He won't carry a gun in combat, just a Bible (kind of cool when you think about it). Another soldier (with a gun) will be assigned to protect him. Eric, his brother, himself an Army veteran, was there to pin his officer bars on him. He spoke about how AJ is descended from soldiers who fought in the Colonial Wars, pre-Revolution, and how he is keeping a family tradition alive. Wish I could have been there. Eric, Annie, Hannah and Luke are taking AJ out to dinner at a casino tonight. AJ departs for an Army encampment tomorrow where he will conduct the religious services and keep up morale with movies, games, etc. It will be nice to have a legitimate preacher in the family to perform marriages and burials and what not. I worship in the field and the barn.
I should have known better. Horatio gave me a "high five" last night. I was carrying a bucket of corn out to the creep feeder. That's a pen only the lambs can get into so they grow big and strong like their moms and dad. I thought I could sneak behind Horatio, who was munching on the bale I just threw down to him. He's usually a real pussycat and comes up to me for a nose scratching. Sheep can see about 340 degrees around and he saw what I was doing. Bam! I was propelled forward. The last time that happened I heard a POP and my leg was broken, only it was Bodie, my Golden Retriever puppy, not a ram. Most of my ram incidents came from the front. Rams spot you, then put their heads down and charge. At that moment you can jump out of the way and the ram will sail past you - but I was never that quick. I knew a nasty old lady shepherd who was knocked down by her ram, and he kept butting her every time she got up. I guess he waited for his chance and got her.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Somebody shoot me - again. I spent the day at the computer writing IEP's for the students assigned to me. Not nearly done. My fault, I should have started weeks ago but I had all the excuses - moved to my new office, computer not set up yet, no phone, ALS (naughty) kids spending time out in my office, on and on. Now I am in BIG trouble with my boss and have to get cracking. Got five kids interviewed for their "Level One Assessments," four pages with annoying redundant questions about how they are doing in school and what they intend to do with the rest of their lives. I confess that part was kind of fun. One kid who is the worst behaved kid in the whole school (or one of them) was willing to sit with me and tell me ALL about his future career as a hip-hop artist. It was adorable. This kid makes CD's of his music and sells them in the parking lot of the local grocery store. He sings and people come over and check him out - then he hustles his CD's. Another one believes he is a heavy metal musician with his own travelling seven man band and a big record company contract. He even played his fantasy band's music on my computer for me and pointed out his parts. His wife and baby wait patiently for him to come home from road shows. I was mesmerized, and really concerned at the same time. All I can do is try to get him the help he needs educationally. I am not a social worker. I totally understand the desperation that drives one to create a fantasy life. Mine was sheep and I got my flock (at what price my sanity and well-being?)
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I've been finding ladybugs around the apartment lately...in my bed, on the computer table. I'm hoping they are trying to tell me something - either spring is near or good things are in store. I'm meeting some really neat people with my Adopt A Lamb program. The bottle babies are nibbling on hay and corn. Pretty soon I will reduce to one milk feeding a day. Green grass would help but that won't happen for a while. I heard a sad report on PBS radio driving to work. A horse rescue operation in Georgia is trying to keep afloat, with hay $9.00 a bale and people letting their horses loose because they can't afford to keep them. The drought in the Southeast is expected to continue this summer despite ample spring rains. Once again I have to count my blessings, for Central New York will have hay this summer - God willing.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
What a funny day Tuesday is. We're not over the hump yet, but we have gotten Monday out of the way. I scurried around this morning, getting bottles and coffee ready and trying to get my head into job mode. I had to break out the teat bucket again. Just can't give all those bottles myself, even though I have perfected holding bottles between my legs and two in each hand. The bottle-bottle babies are still in the dog pen so I can hang the bucket in there. I have to prepare the milk, pour it into gallon milk jugs, then carry out the teat bucket, full bottles and gallon jugs out to the lambs in the outer barn. They swarm me and I put the bucket inside the pen. They are so excited they try to jump IN the bucket with the milk instead of sucking on the teats. I am busy with the lambs outside the pen who are just being supplemented with bottles. You would never know they have mothers - they act like they have not been fed in days. Their sharp little hoofs claw at my fleece pants and sometimes succeed in pulling down my pants altogether! I got their bellies full and ran back into the apt. to get myself ready. I bathed, shampooed, started to get dressed and realized I had never put my pants in the dryer! Ran into the bedroom and started tearing through the clothes pile. Yikes, I wish I took as good care of myself as I do of these sheep. Finally found something and ran out. It feels like I am leaving a giant day care center alone, unsupervised. The propensity for disaster is enormous. I glanced at the thermometer - 9F on the milk room steps. Thank goodness the heat decided to work on the truck today. I never know. Meetings after work and all I could think about was the farm, and is everything alright. Rushed home to find the doggies had gotten bored and torn up some pillows. Notice the carbon monoxide alarm that saved my life a couple of months ago, chewed up on the floor. Thanks, Doggies!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Busy today with Adopt-a-Lamb program. The adoptions are coming in, and I am so relieved to know I have all these wonderful friends helping me to raise the sheep I am blessed with. I posted some things on Etsy. It's going to take me a while to get the hang of it, but it's a start. I had a wonderful, long chat with Eric last night from Las Vegas. It's hot there already. Kelly and Steve brought the five little bottle babies back today. Steve is not doing well and can't handle all the bending over with his back the way it is. More surgery tomorrow for him. I'm surprised they even tried to do the lambs, but he loves them so. Maggie has more bottles to mix and more bellies to fill. Thank Goodness for the adopting moms...I just might make it with them sharing the load! Back to work tomorrow.
So much to do today before I go back to school. Cold and clear outside. I am going to launch my Adopt A Lamb program. Took a lot of cute pictures yesterday. Jean (Pa.) and Kim (Ontario), two fiber friends, both suggested it and I think it's a terrific idea. I love to take pictures of and write about the sheep so keeping in touch is not a problem for me. I mulled over names in my sleep last night, everything from Lambkins to Myownsheep, on and on. I think I will go with Adopt A Lamb NY. I found programs in Ireland, Australia and the northwest USA. I like the idea of bringing the joy of sheep ownership to people who can't possibly have one...and God knows I could use some help with taking care of all these beautiful little entities I have brought into the world. I have some things to post to Etsy, like the beautiful raw alpaca fleeces I brought up from NJ and never got processed. I'm out of dye or I would fire up the dye pots. Don't want to take the time and gas to drive into town (10 miles)when I'll be back on the road tomorrow - too soon. Had a lovely talk with Eric and AJ last night. Wish I could have seen Hannah and Luke dressed up for church. They promised to send pictures.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
When I have a minute I sometimes log onto other people's blogs to check them out. I have a couple of blogs I am loyal to, but sometimes it's nice to "make some new friends." I logged on to www.spinningwheel.net yesterday, and found it quite amusing. The writer is a writer, and although she didn't say the title of her book or what it's about, she said it's self-published and just ordered another 5,000 to be printed. Could it be about sheep? I'm planning on writing a book - but I'm afraid the tone will be a bit frustrating for people to read. Sometimes I read my blog and I think - Yikes, this woman ought to pack it in and find something else to do with her time or money! I don't know if I'd want to read about my history of the last few years. But anyway, this blog listed "Ten Things I've Done that You Probably Haven't." It included things like watching Mount St. Helen erupt, moving to a new city with $37 in her pocket (something like I did here with the farm). So I am going to make a similar list. Here we go:
Ten Things I Have Done That I Will LIKELY NEVER DO AGAIN
1. Give birth to two perfect twins, one of each, 8 months after the wedding.
2. Chase reindeer off the railroad tracks so the train can continue, above the
Arctic Circle in the wilds of northern Finland
3. Discover spinning in the same place, Lapland, northern Finland
4. Climb up the Roman seige ramp to the fortress of Masada, Israel, and watch the dawn come up with Israeli jets, glinting in the sun, practicing low-level flying beneath me. The juxtaposition of past and future was not lost on me.
5. Swim in the Dead Sea
6. Swim in the oasis where David hid from King Saul
7. Put a message to God in a crack of the Western Wall, Jerusalem
8. Climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris at midnight
9. Earn my AA, BA, and MA in six years with an A average all the way as a single parent.
10. Buy and move to my very own Farm. All roads lead to my Farm...and here I am. The Farm must prevail!
There it is, that's what comes to mind here on Easter morning. Time to go out to the barn and give bottles to my lambs and put out hay. The sheep are what it's all about!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
The spring light is amazing...and with the full moon the light remains all night long. It's still very cold, but the longer daylight hours really help. I bought the last of the hay my farmer had to sell, and got some round bales in today. Now I'm scrounging around the neighborhood for hay. Stopped at a farm with a sign out but he just bought some heifers and is keeping his hay for them. I'm okay for a week, then it's panic time. The lambs are so beautiful, and most of them are growing alright. The moms are amazing. I'm washing and dyeing lots of wool. It takes much longer to dry in the winter time, but I have so much to process, with more growing all the time. I posted some handspun to my Etsy store. Too bad, the photos just don't show how pretty the yarn is.
Friday, March 21, 2008
I don't have any Easter bunnies this year, but I do have two little Easter kitties. I wish I could put them on hold so they will be small when Luke comes to visit. Luke LOVES kittens. I have a feeling I might be having another litter by the time Luke comes in July.
Pinky, Winky, Magnus and two others went to live with Uncle Steve and Aunt Kelly today. They look a little confused in this picture of them in Kelly's van. They will be in a heated garage/barn until they are weaned and can join the flock at the 500 acre horse farm where Kelly and Steve work. I know they will be properly taken care of and their bellies full. Lots of time and milk replacer have gone into those babies and I didn't want them to go to just anybody. I will still be mixing bottles for two goat kids and three ewe lambs whose mothers don't seem to have a lot of milk. They are out with the flock so the little pen will be empty. Matter of fact, let me get some bottles ready now.
I love to mix my own dye colors. It can be tricky. I adore Jacquard and Cushings Dyes, but they are only available by mail order and that gets expensive. Sometimes I trade with Donna Carlstrom of the Sheep Shed when we are at Rhinebeck together - her Jacquard dyes for my yarn or soap. Spruce by Jacquard is my favorite color, and I think I can duplicate it by mixing green and blue. Lately I've been using Rit dyes, available at the grocery market and Wal-Mart, and mixing them to my liking. The brownish/red was supposed to be golden yellow, but I poured in a little too much brown in my excitement. The purple is just, well, gorgeous. Oh, I do love purple. Picking raw fleeces and washing them for the dye pots helped keep me from getting really weepy over my bottle babies leaving.
Wind howled all night. I love the way the barn I live in makes noise when the wind really blows ...as long as it doesn't blow down, ofcourse. It strains and creaks in the wind. In just a few years this barn will be a hundred years old, with the section I live in being a bit younger. My neighbors, Sisters Bernadette and Grace, did a good job nailing the metal roof on so there is nary a leak. I know, I keep talking about the Sisters and the roof - but the sight of the stately Brides of Christ dressed in black, scrambling all over the top of my barn with hammers when they were young girls is very amusing to me. There was horizontal snow and black clouds racing across the full moon last night, what a sight. Nature's I-Max theatre playing for me across the hilly stage that is my farm. I love dramatic weather and will be sad to see the winter cold exchanged for heat and flies...but I am very much in need of green grass. Not going to happen anytime real soon by the looks of the weather today. Off for Good Friday today. Woke up at 5 anyway, after forcing myself to stay up for Jay Leno. Didn't make it through the monologue. I put on my opera channel very low when I go to bed as it helps me sleep. Matt gets up in the night and turns it off. When I got up I put on the TV and there was the 1958 film, Run Silent, Run Deep which I remember watching with my brothers as a little girl. There they were - Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable, commanding a WWII submarine in the Pacific. I always think of submarine warfare in the North Atlantic, but here they were hunting and being chased by the Japanese, not the Nazis. Interesting twist. Matt could hardly get ready for work with that movie on. Got my bottles out to the lambs. Kelly and Steve are coming today to pick up Winky, Pinky, Magnus, two other unnamed wether lambs and a little ewe lamb. The yearlings they bought a couple of months ago are at the 500 acre horse farm, being introduced to the flock they will live with. Steve is home on disability after falling through the rotten bottom of a hay wagon and misses the sheep. He imagines them calling for him from their back yard barn, and can't stand not having something to take care of. He told Kelly to ask me for some more. How could I say no? A nice gig for my bottle babies - an adoring daddy until they are weaned, then over to the farm where there is more hay and corn than they can possibly consume? I can live with that! I will save on milk replacer and keep my numbers down a bit. It seems like yesterday when they were running into my bedroom in the morning, tip-tapping on the wood floor with their little hooves. Life goes on and we have to go with the flow...Had a lovely chat with Mia this morning. Funny how when my kids are okay, I'm okay! Mia is going to get her Master's in Nursing done at Fairleigh Dickinson in Morristown. She won't have to drive back to Newark for class. She said one night when she and another nurse were on the ward knee deep in blood and poop, they both decided to get the applications in and "git 'er done." AJ should be hearing about his Army officer commission any day now. He is at Fort Irwin in the high desert of California doing Army war games, riding around in his very own Chaplain's hummer. What fun! Eric is working hard, drumming up contributors to the Boy Scouts, not an easy task in a bad economy when even the casinos in Las Vegas are down on their revenues. Well, better get out and check on everybody. I have some orders to get packed up and get out (thank Goodness) and a Shimmering Nutmeg bag to make for a lady. Fleeces are waiting for sorting. It's a perfect day to fire up the dye pots.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Can there be an upside to selling one's handcrafted Robin wheel to pay for hay??? Maybe. The nicest woman came to buy Robin #2 yesterday. Molly from Canandaigua (another upstate New York Indian name) is a rug hooker who purchased some of my roving at the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival last year. She spun the fiber into two-ply yarn and sold it to rug hookers at the prestigious Shelburne Farm Museum show in Shelburne, Vermont, near Burlington last November. I was thrilled to hear about it, as rug hooking is another fiber craft I had not considered for my handspun. She drove almost 3 hours each way so she could buy another pound of roving when she picked up the wheel. I gave her a good price on the last Stag and Hare bag I made. Molly wanted it to carry her rug hooking frame around in. There you go - a hooker who was looking for a BIG bag! You know I am a big bag kind of girl. I plan on making some big bags for the Rhinebeck show this fall. I thoroughly enjoy watching them march out of the booth, when most of the time people usually say, do you ever make smaller bags??? I felt pangs of loss while strapping the pretty little maple Robin into her bag seat...but Molly offered to let me have her spot on Gilbert's waiting list for the Robin she ordered. AND she says she has some terrific tapestry fabric she's going to send me, along with some Femo clay she doesn't need for my buttons. The sheep and lambs calling for hay were ringing in my ears as I waved good bye and went back into the barn.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Tomorrow is Annie's birthday. Annie was born on Long Island to teacher/farmer parents. Her father's people were watermen on the Sound dating back to the 1600's. By the 1960's the Hamptons had gotten so fancy and the taxes so high, Annie's parents decided to set out for the frontier of the Delmarva Peninsula on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Now, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built in the 1960's, so I suspect Annie's family was one of the first to migrate over it. They liked the fact that it was flat, very much like the land they left in Long Island. No foo-foo folks in that part of Maryland. The phone book had pages and pages of the same family names, and people were very independent. Laura, Annie's mother, was cooking some barbecue by the roadside one day while her husband was doing some work, and people started asking to buy her food. The family restaurant was established shortly thereafter. Now Annie was the oldest child and was often the surrogate mother, taking care of her brothers and sister while Mom and Dad ran the restaurant, Whiskers and Wife (Dad had a beard). When the kids were old enough they all worked in the place. Annie was very smart, and the academic world lured her away from the beach life. She wound up in Kentucky, where she was working on a PhD in English and Rhetoric (say what?) and waitressing in a restaurant (food is in her blood). One day a handsome young lieutenant walked in and sat down. He was looking for an apt. in Louisville, as he was stationed at Fort Knox and had just arrived in town. Annie, who is a very shrewd and intelligent woman, decided to bring him home and let him sleep on her sofa. Weeelllll, the rest is history. Annie and Eric were married in a park in Louisville, in a gazebo. They bought a little house and very soon Hannah Margaret was born. Not too long after that, Luke Skywalker Alexander was born. The little family decided they needed a bigger house and bought one. Eric was climbing the ladder of success with the Boy Scouts of America, and Annie had a very prestigious job working for Senator Mitch McConnell. One day, the BSA decided that Eric was too valuable to stay in Louisville and sent him to Las Vegas to hook the big donors and make them give lots of money to the Boy Scouts. Annie bravely soldiered on alone while Eric paved the way for their new life in the West. She had to take care of Hannah and Luke and hold down her job while keeping the house sparkling clean for prospective buyers - not an easy task. The house finally sold and the little family was together again. One day, while he was walking in the mountains around Las Vegas, Eric struck up a conversation with a stripper, er, "Show Girl." (Eric is also a member of AMMO.) Eric told her all about his wife and her talents, like a good husband, and the clever stripper said Annie should investigate the Yucca Mountain Project in Las Vegas. Low and behold, Annie landed a job editing the reports the scientists write about their nuclear work. She tells them what they are trying to say and how to say it. Like I said, Annie is very smart. Problem is, Annie works a little too hard. The Yucca Project has deadlines, you know. When I spoke to her this past weekend, she was going to her 15th straight day of work. All work, no play, is not good. Fortunately, she is taking 10 days off to take her mom and Hannah/Luke to Disneyland and ride through Monument Valley on the way back. This Superwoman deserves to take some time off. She not only snagged a real cute husband, she gave birth to the cutest pair of kids in the whole wide world...almost as cute as AJ and Mia were when they were little! Hannah was a babe in arms on my wedding day - she was my favorite wedding guest. You should have seen her cute little dress! She definitely upstaged the bride! Thank you, Annie, for marrying my son and giving me my grandchildren! Happy Birthday! Live long and prosper!
Matt says, "Now I know I'm Irish when there are sheep living in my house!" Have fun, all you non-Irish people (myself included) who like to party-down today. I used to go to the NYC parade to watch all the faithful go by with their patron saints proudly displayed, along with every cop and fireman in the tri-state area. It was a fun, happy time. The VMI (Virginia Military Institute) marching band participates in the New York parade. It was wonderful watching them march by, after spending so many years driving up and down the Shenandoah Valley to visit Eric at VMI. Have to get out to the sheep and get off to work. Hope I can find something green in the laundry basket. Winter is back - in the teens out there. Hope the heat in the truck decides to work this morning.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
No wonder the Roman Senate decided to jump Caesar and stab him to death on this date (actually yesterday, but who is complaining?). After a long hard winter I'm not surprised they went psycho. The lambs are screaming for milk, the sheep are baaaing for hay and the White Boys are doing their incessant yip, yip which means come and let us out for out nightly run. The wind is howling and the temp is going down, after a few milder days where I was able to fill the bunny bottles without them freezing. Matt is down and out with a cold - coughing, gurgling, moaning, and groaning. I went into town to get him some cold medicine, which knocked him out for a few hours. Guess I better get out to the barn and get chores started. No more milk replacer. I reluctantly and agonizingly decided to get the wether lambs together and sacrifice them on the altar of the Easter season. Matt disavowed any responsibility and said it was my move. He knows how heartbreaking it is for me. I called the "lamb man" and made the arrangements. He wanted a list with weights. I caught them and Matt helped me weigh them and put the required scrapie tags on them. We couldn't look each other in the eye. After all the long cold nights birthing them and nurturing them to live, how could we do this? But my hay source is running out and so is the money to buy it with - and I can't afford milk replacer any more. I made the call for the man to come and get them. They would be killed on Tuesday and go to the city for sale right away. BUT! Guess what?? They are too small and he doesn't want them! I let them go and they RAN for their mothers! The guy said for me to call him when they weigh 45 pounds. I said no, thanks - I may be in a bind now but don't plan to be when the grass is green. Please, grass, grow!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Today is a very special day. Laticia is here to celebrate another birthday. I met Laticia when I was going through a difficult time. I spent my first winter here on the farm in a 14 foot travel trailer, with seven dogs, two space heaters and a sofa/cot. Matt had to go back to NJ to find work, and I went to my teaching job at BOCES in Norwich every day. Coming home to that trailer, after seven dogs were locked in there all day, was not pleasant. It was rocking back and forth when I pulled in the driveway. The milk room was my "office" with a computer, sink and stock tank for a "Saturday Night Special." I rented a port-0-potty, which made getting up on cold mornings a very unique experience. Come December, the rental company took it away and I used my camp potty (that required emptying every weekend.) The barn, even though there were sheep in there, was rather cavernous and very dark. I was always looking over my shoulder for the ghosts I was told lingered here. I would try to get my chores done early, then lock myself in the trailer with the dogs. The dogs tried to chew their way out of the trailer, leaving a bare metal spot next to the cot. I woke up one morning with my hair frozen to the wall of the trailer. I had spent all my money to buy the farm (what else is new?) and the construction business was going down in NJ. As always, the sheep were hungry and I used what currency I had to make money to feed them - my spinning wheels. Laticia came out of the blue and bought my two spinning wheels. But she did something that made me feel I had done the right thing by moving to "Upstate New York." Laticia offered to hold my wheels until I could buy them back from her - which I did not a year later. Can you imagine? I am still overwhelmed when I think of it. Well, Laticia got some bad news a few months ago. She had cancer of the thyroid that had spread into her lymph system. Her vast world of friends and family were in shock...and her battle was complicated by having no health insurance! Laticia got into high gear and got herself all the tests and required surgery. At this time she is on the mend, in good spirits, and whispering very gently to save her wounded throat. Good thing she is the FASTEST typist on the East Coast, along with the mistress of many crafts, including soap and fiber. Laticia - I'm so proud to know you and call you my friend! May you live happily and healthily ever after! Happy Birthday! Someday I will sing it to you in Swedish (You Tube?)
An old farm covered with snow is like a picture from a Currier and Ives calendar, or a Vermont tourism poster - you know what I mean. A farm on the tail end of winter, with all the snow melted and mud everywhere you turn, is not so picturesque. The tracking-in that all the big feet and little feet make is impossible to keep up with. The sheep are just holding on until spring - me, too. Not that I want the flies back, but I want the green grass back. I talked to Annie and my little grandson, Luke, age 6, this morning. Oh, did my heartstrings tug when I heard his little voice. He asked me if Bodie (my Golden) still drops his ball in the hole where we put the hay down for the sheep. He also asked if I would drive a new kitten to him in my car (all the way to Las Vegas). I wish that I could...Annie tells me Hannah and Luke are coming around July 4 to stay the month of July. Oh, how I am living for July! I'll get my old chest freezer up from the tractor shed and fill it with lime popsicles and microwave mac and cheese! Bon fires! Fireworks! Burned marshmallows! Flashlights in the dark! Ghost hunting in the hay mow (actually, there are real ghosts here - I keep waiting for Lydia to reveal herself to me!) Poor Matt is down with a flu-like syndrome and all I had to give him was Hannah's old allergy medicine from last summer. It must have worked - he is snoring on the couch instead of gurgling and coughing. I am doing the chores. Took me two hours to get hay out, carry water to the boys, feed the rabbits and do the bottle babies. I am desperately trying to get pictures posted on my Etsy store, but no matter how I upload them, Etsy says they are too big. Annie suggested I try emailing the pics to myself and letting the computer make them smaller. I did that - still too big. I tried changing my camera settings and screwed them all up. My blog likes big pictures, but not Etsy. Have to move all this beautiful roving I have left over from the last two years to make room for all the fiber on the hoof out in the barn. If any of you smarty pants have suggestions about how to resize photos, please, please chime in! Thank you, Friends!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Last night I finally got my Premier Bottle Bucket ready to hang. I filled all the little holes in the teats with plumber's putty so they wouldn't leak. I experimented with mixing larger amounts for the bucket to save time. Mixing one bottle at a time for a total of nine lambs is very time consuming. I was hoping this would help get me out the door to work quicker in the morning. Well, the lambs took to it just fine, sucking away on the teats attached to the hanging bucket. I was very relieved. I left the bucket hanging while I did my chores, then took it back in the house when I was finished. I suspect little Tinky drank too much and was bloated. She had fresh hay and cracked corn in the pen to eat, but Tink loved her milk. When Matt found her dead this morning her belly was very swollen. We are heartbroken, as she was our only ewe lamb in the house and we became very attached to her. I'm so awfully tired of this lamb drama and being responsible for all these lives is very draining. I wish I could say getting away to my job every day is a relief, but there is drama there on a daily basis. I had hoped Jan would get up here and help a little on a weekend, or at least to see how pretty her land looked in the snow, but she is concerned about the miles on her leased cars. Mia is busy with her two nursing jobs and can't get away. So there's no relief. Nathan is coming to help me this summer. He was my helper before I moved here. He might have to bring his little flock with him, but he has a truck and a trailer, and it's not too far. He can't come too soon for me.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
He can be snarky and moody. He curses like a longshoreman. He forgets my birthday, Valentine's Day and Christmas presents. BUT he helps me with my sheep and loves my dogs and cats. He spends endless hours picking up and unloading hay for the flock. He always reminds me to bring water to the chickens and bunnies. He's very tolerant of the fact that I spend all my money on my animals. He gets up early in the morning and brings me coffee in bed, then goes out to the barn to sling bales so I can get the bottles of milk replacer ready. He is devoted and steadfast. He loves my cooking and waits every night for me to serve it to him while he sits on the sofa with the NY Times (remember, he is President of the A.M.M.O. - the American Macho Male Organization). It's a small price to pay, for after dinner he comes out to the barn to do two hours of chores with me! He knows more about history than I do and will watch endless hours of WWII documentaries with me. Okay, so he's a registered Republican - I can't have everything my way, can I?
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
So much mixing...all those hungry lambs. I missed one guy's lamb bottle yesterday morning and when I checked again before leaving for work he was not around. He has a rubbed off spot on his nose, as if he has been nursing...maybe Mom doesn't have enough milk? Sure enough, last night I found him lying on his side, stiff and cold. I moaned and picked him up to carry him out when he stretched a little. Took him inside and let him wait until I finished with chores, then tube fed him and gave him nutri-drench. I held him while I was watching my de-stress TV (Marie Antoinette was on - wonderfully entertaining)then put him in the laundry basket next to the bathroom baseboard. It's a terrific way to keep a critter warm, and safer than the oven door. I shut the door and the whole room heats up like a little oven. When I woke up he was standing up in the laundry basket. It doesn't always turn out so happily! I put him in with Pinky, Winky, Tink and Linc for special handling. This way I won't miss him. This late daylight is so lovely. Spring is in the air, even though single digits on my thermometer says otherwise. Four day weekend next week, then couple more weeks and spring break. People say teachers don't work a lot - but I'd like to see them put up with the schtick we have to deal with. Just when we think we can't stand it any longer, we get some time off. Thank Goodness.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Dye pots are cold and we are back to school. Hate to leave the babies. School was bizarre, utterly bizarre. Cold and sunny on the way home. Went to get hay, had it on the elevator by seven when it was almost sunset. Beautiful, giant crescent moon tonight. Mia sent me a bottle of my favorite White Musk by Body Shop to celebrate the End of Lambing Season. A box of lovely soap and candle scents arrived from my friend, Laticia, who traded them to me for wool. New, professional soap molds are on the way from Laticia. I have wanted to try them for years, now I am worried I might miss my paper milk cartons. We'll see...
Sunday, March 09, 2008
I have a huge back log of fleeces to sort, pick, wash, dye and dry. It's something I don't mind doing but it's time consuming. Did you ever see a dirtier Bluefaced Leicester fleece? Kitty doesn't mind...People frequently ask if I have any raw fleeces for sale. I don't consider mine marketable as they have quite a bit of "vegetable matter" in them. Until I get coats on my sheep I can't really take advantage of that lucrative market. A nice shepherd from Oklahoma sent me a homemade sheep coat pattern that I plan to use to make my own coats. In the meantime, I am picking the hay out and washing/dyeing/drying/processing before selling it. The boiling pots heat up the cold milk room nicely.
The bottle babies are not happy about their move to the barn. You can almost hear the screams coming out of those open mouths. They have fresh hay, water and cracked corn to heat, but they want their BOTTLES!! I am restricting them to two bottles a day. You have to be very careful about weaning bottles babies...it is very tricky. You can't just take the bottles away, for they can go down very quickly. It has to be done gradually.