Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I took the dogs out for another pee and poo before chores and thought it was getting a bit colder.  Checked the bird feeder pole thermometer and sure enough it said ten below zero.  Will be colder than that by morning, with the clear sky and no clouds to keep the earth warm.  Everybody in the barn is fine.  I spend a lot of time mixing buckets of warm mash for the pigs, Lilly and her old girlfriends, the ducks and chickens.  It seems like everyone is getting enough hay.  The milk room kitties and baby bunnies are fine.  I don't have any wool to dye so I keep a giant pot of water at the edge of simmering on the dye stove.  The cats lean up against it on top of the stove, with another group sitting on the open door of the oven.  Incredibly, no one has been burned that I know of.  If the sheep don't drink their water I find a big block of ice in it the next morning and have to find an empty one to give them more water.  I think we're doing well so far this winter.  My friend Jim Baldwin says it's how they look in April that counts.  I've had sheep pull through the winter only to die in the early spring, after their strength is all used up.  Chris the farmer who used to keep cows in this barn told me he had the same thing happen with cows.  I worry the same thing will happen to Lilly or her aged friends.  For now, they are lining up and waiting for their warm mash and nightly MacIntosh apples - softer on their old teeth.   I have an oven now.  We switched my new oven, destroyed by mice who settled in the insulation and chewed the wires to the digital control box, for a used, almost vintage, oven I was planning on using to heat my work room.  The old stove works fantastically and there are no fancy wires for the mice to chew.  I cook every night and having no oven was wearing thin.  We are waiting for AJ who is moving back to the East Coast shortly.  I'm hoping to spend AJ and Mia's birthday with them in New Jersey, on February 21st.  I'm off that week on winter break.  Until then we go to work, take care of the farm, and kick back a little on the weekends.  I'm reading Sylvia Jorrin's book The Improbable Shepherd.  It's very interesting and I can relate to so much of her hopes, dreams and anguish.   I admire her greatly.   There's a lot we don't share, like selling lambs to the ethnic market, or taking animals to auction.  I never, ever do either, and never intend to, but then I have my teaching job to fall back on.  Sylvia is a gardener and her grounds sound spectacular.  My grounds are rather wild and I kind of like it that way.  I don't think Sylvia spins  or has her fiber spun into yarn, but I may have missed it.  I read haphazardly and sometimes jump around.  Sylvia has a big beautiful house and I live in the barn.  I work a full time job off the farm and she doesn't.  Not quite sure where her money is coming from to pay for taxes, etc.  With 100 sheep she must have hired help coming in for the heavier things.  I certainly hope so.   I envy her being able to stay home and check the barn for newborns at all hours of the day and night.  I'm taking a year off breeding and am very relieved with this horrible cold that has set in.  Nothing is worse than being stuck at work worrying about lambsicles and goatsicles.   My bed is calling.  Two hours in the cold barn on a work night takes a bit out of me.  Tomorrow is another day.

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