For three years, we have been promising ourselves a couple of fruit trees. And each year the chore list is long. Tree-buying, for which we would have to actually venture away from the farm, slips to the bottom of our priorities when we’ve got so much that keeps us here.
When’s the best time to plant a tree? Well, three years ago. But barring that, today will do just fine.
For posterity, because I’ll likely never remember to write it down…
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I just found this thing I wrote a few years ago. How prophetic I was!
Today I walked to the river with my best girl’s daughter. She held my hand and kicked up little clouds of dust with her shoes as we strolled through back alleys on the way to the water. She was afraid of the tree with the hacked-off limbs, so I carried her past it. She asked me if God made her, and I advised her to ask her mother.
My best girl’s daughter makes me think I might be able to cope with a child of my own one day, little feet kicking tiny rocks, the sun shining on her fine little-girl hair. Always I imagine a daughter. Perhaps that’s the way of both genders, wanting offspring they can identify with. I imagine a house in the trees, a tiny hand clasped in my own, walking slowly home to a handsome man with kind eyes who will smile down at the daughter of his best girl.
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Iris the milk goat arrived yesterday. She is an excellent milker: patient and sweet and lovely. She is a lovely addition to our animals and we are thrilled to have her. But to avoid confusion over caprine and human Irises, we might have to change her name…
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Is this February? Nope. Just the tail end of the longest winter ever.
And yet. See the buds on that tree? Warmth is coming. Just not today.
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With an udder that looked full to the point of explosion, I knew Eleanor wasn’t far from lambing. Sure enough, an afternoon trip to the barn revealed this lovely sight:
A white lamb and a black lamb, both ewes. The black one is stronger and larger than her sister, but they were both up and exploring this morning.
I confess to some amount of worry about the white babe. Yesterday, in her post-delivery daze, Eleanor stepped backwards onto the hind leg of her pale daughter. She stayed there even whole the baby struggled to get up. Horrified, I tried to move the mama sheep but she refused to budge. I finally left them, figuring she would get off her sooner if she was left alone.
Now the poor babe walks a bit strange, holding her stepped-on leg out to the side a bit. It looks almost normal and it isn’t broken, so I guess my plan is to keep an eye on her and intervene if necessary.
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Hello, longer days. You will defeat the snow eventually.
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Every morning when I give the sheep hay, I take attendance. It’s not a long process–there are only four ewes and a ram, after all–but it makes me feel better to continually take stock of everyone during lambing season. This morning, when Phoebe wasn’t waiting at the hay feeder, I felt the tingly beginnings of adrenaline, the whisper that tugs at your sleeve, saying something’s happened… go look.
It was chilly this morning, and a lot of snow fell yesterday. Phoebe hasn’t lambed before, and sometimes new mothers have trouble, and sometimes in cold weather the lambs freeze shortly after they’re born, and, and, and. For an alarming few seconds, as I tentatively trudged toward the barn, I braced myself for the dark side of farm life, for some kind of problem with mother or baby.
And this is what I saw:
It’s a bad picture, I know. But nestled in the straw are two brand new lambs, only minutes old, blinking in the morning light, steam rising off their coats. New bewildered mother Phoebe is out of the frame, standing in the corner of the barn looking a bit dazed.
I helped the babies stand up–brown boy and black girl–and Phoebe sprang into action, licking them and mumbling sheepy things in their ears.
The ram lamb was quite a bit smaller than his sister and wasn’t getting as much attention, so I brought him in the house for a bit to dry him off. Ten minutes later, he was up and running around the house, bleating for his mama.
I returned him to her and the three of them carried on with the business of getting to know each other.
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We may have had 30 cm of snow descend upon us (with 10 more expected tonight, but we won’t talk about that) but that doesn’t matter. Spring is here, and I have proof.
This sweet little thing was born sometime last night to Penelope, a sheep we never had high expectations of. She was always more skittish than the rest, her feet always needed the most trimming…. She just seemed so insecure and weak. I thought if anyone was going to have problems lambing, it would be her.
Sometimes its good to be wrong.
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Our goats have a lovely hay feeder, lovingly constructed by Mark two years ago. But wily Jezebel found a way to get around our humble suggestion of eating via the feeder. Goats–they bend the rules.
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Behold, the grand visage of Charles the Shetland ram!
We picked him up last fall, driving south in our rickety old truck to the farm we got our four ewes from. After telling the story of our scrotum-less surprise wether last year, the farmer only chuckled and shook his head. “We’ll make sure you get a functioning one,” he said.
It wasn’t until fifteen minutes later that I found myself kneeling over a prostrate sheep that I knew what the farmer meant. I thought our purpose was for me to observe that this sheep did have the necessary lamb-making equipment. “Yep, he’s a ram,” I offered lamely as four little sheep hooves kicked the air. “No, feel for his testicles,” the farmer said, gesturing with his head as his arms held down the struggling ram. “You want to feel two testicles in the sac.” He went on to explain that one would likely do the job just fine, but given my unexpected year of sheep barrenness, I probably wanted extra insurance.
So, I did what any tough farm girl would do. As confidently as possible, reached over that sheep’s belly and got myself a velvety handful of sheep balls. I palpated the sac quizzically, feeling the testicles roll against each other. “Sorry for molesting you, dude,” I told the upside-down ram. To the farmer, I confirmed I had indeed ‘rolled a pair.’
We loaded him into the truck and drove north while the heat gauge on our old truck moving perilously upward (faulty gauge, we later found out). An hour later, we were home and Charlie met his angels. Lambs expected sometime after April 1. Watch this space!
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