Monday, October 21, 2019

A Special...But Not Really Wanted Guest

We've had a fox visiting our farm for the last couple of weeks.  With no lambs here, I'm not really worried about him or her bothering the sheep.  I do worry about the chickens though and I especially worry about Comby, who likes to hunt out in this same field.  

"Yeah, I see you, too.  I think you are beautiful, but you better beat feet before Hank sees you."

If the sheep are out grazing, Hank calls them in to safety.  Doing that usually frightens the fox away, but if not, he races out to escort him under the fence. 

Hank has been much happier since it's cooled down.  I think the fox is probably less happy ;-).

*      *       *       *        *

The Rhinebeck Blues Party was really fun.  We had a great group of sheep and fiber enthusiasts, the weather was perfect and Auntie Reg nailed the Artichoke French!  The sheep all behaved (because we didn't use Maisie for any of the demonstrations ;-) and the only "workshop" we skipped was washing wool.  Karen taught wheel spinning and wool combing.  I taught shepherding, fleece judging and skirting.  Let's do it again next year!

The forecast for our Hug a Sheep Day farm party this Saturday isn't looking quite as good, but that's several days away.  Hopefully they are just wrong.  It will be fun, regardless :-).  Hope you can join us!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Looking Like A Busy Day!

I've had some fun RSVPs for the Rhinebeck Blues party this Saturday! There will be no shortage of entertainment and talent :-D.  And thanks for the good workshop suggestions!

Here is my tentative teaching schedule for the day:

10:00-12:00  SHEPHERDING.  Interested in getting some sheep and just have some basic questions?  Have a small flock and are having trouble getting your hands on them to "shepherd them"?  What do you do after you catch them up?  How to check eye scores, trim feet, give medications...?  Just want to hang out in the barn with a (mostly) well behaved flock of sheep?

12:00-1:00 LUNCH

1:00-2:00  FLEECE JUDGING.  What is a good handspinning fleece?  What is a bad one?  What do you do after your sheep are shorn?  I don't have many fleeces left, so please bring your own if you'd like some feedback.

2:00-3:00  FLEECE WASHING.  We'll actually wash a fleece using two different methods.

3:00-4:00  WOOL PROCESSING.  Drum carding, hand carding, flick carding, combing...  What tools are you interested in giving a try?  Which tools are better in different situations?  Which fiber prep is best for your intended project?

Here is the schedule for the Punkin's Patch "Upper Management":

I packed my schedule with (fun) sheep and wool stuff so Auntie Reg would have to handle all the (not fun) cooking stuff ;-).

Miss B is home on fall break (yay!) so will be running the gift shop if anyone would like to do some shopping.  The farm calendars are ready :-D.

Karen, another Rhinebeck (and Maryland) veteran, is stuffing her car with spinning tools and will be available all afternoon to answer questions and help you with your spinning, knitting and even weaving.

20 will be manning the book table.  These aren't books for sale, just for browsing, but who doesn't enjoy sitting around looking through wool books :-). 

20's still trying to decide which sweater he's wearing tomorrow.   It looks like we'll all be able to wear wool at least in the morning!

Your tentative schedule for the day:

Participate in however many "workshops" you'd like.  Or not.  Bring your wheel or current project and just enjoy sitting with everyone talking all things sheep and fiber all day long.  Or go sit under a tree by yourself and enjoy relaxing on the farm, watching the sheep.  If you've got a folding chair, you probably ought to bring it just in case we run short.

If you'd like to have your portrait taken with either your favorite project or your favorite sheep, I'll have my camera ready.  I'm better at sheep than people, but I'll do my best.

We'll have coffee and cider donuts (while they last) available throughout the day and make your own lemon shake ups.  Reg also thinks she has the artichoke french lined out after a trial run and consultation with a couple of Rhinebeck veterans.  

We are going to throw on a crockpot or two of soup and ShepherdPerson is bringing in some local apples and caramel dip.  Feel free to pack your own lunch or bring something to share if you'd like, but don't stress about it.  I've never know anyone to go hungry at a fiber gathering :-).

So it won't be actual Rhinebeck...but I think it's going to be a really fun day.  Hope to see you tomorrow!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Holy As The Day Is Spent

Today was a beautiful fall day, about as perfect as they come.  I started my day with a set plan...that got changed mid morning into something completely different.  You know...a normal day.    

I ended up driving to Mayslick, to Hinton Mills and talked to them about my feed requirements and even got to watch them mix it for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how they weigh out all the ingredients and watching the machine blend it all together.  

Loading up 450 pounds of wrong feed from the old mill and unloading 500 pound of fresh feed from the new mill along with 100 pounds of salt and minerals...was not really a bright spot, but having bins full of feed the sheep like and hearing Big Moose say "yum yum yum" while he was eating tonight, was :-)

Being able to scroll back through Instagram posts and re-watch that video...a definite bright spot :-D.

Around 7:00 I decided I was not going to let yet another day go by without trying out Frankie's new cart (I think I may not have posted that over here...sorry :-/) so I got him out as the sun was setting, hoping he still remembered how to drive after almost a month off (!) and both he and the cart got two thumbs up.  That was a really big bright spot :-D.

It's now 11:00 and I'm just in from my nightly barn check.  All the sheep are tucked in safely and Comby is cozy in his new condo for one.  I remembered to cover my still blooming flowers in hopes of making it through another frosty night.  Day is done.

As I reflect on the past few days and all the kind words I've read today, I am reminded of one of my favorite songs that came up on my playlist today as I drove up to the feed mill on a glorious fall afternoon with two good dogs sleeping in the back seat.  "Holy as the day is spent" by Carrie Newcomer.  

Holy is the place I stand
To give whatever small good I can
And the empty page, and the open book
Redemption everywhere I look
Unknowingly we slow our pace
In the shade of unexpected grace
And with grateful smiles and sad lament
As holy as a day is spent
And morning light sings 'providence'
As holy as a day is spent

And with grateful smiles and sad lament...  Here is a link to the song in entirety.  It's a good one.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Hershey had a lump on the side of his jaw.  It started small and we thought maybe a bad tooth.  It didn't respond to antibiotics and continued to grow so the vet came and drew off some fluid for a biopsy, but the results came back inconclusive.  

X-ray showed something that wasn't involving the jaw and as it was growing quickly and starting to affect his ability to eat, we decided to go in surgically in hopes it was just a weird pocket of infection...but knew that it was most likely not.

The surgery was scheduled for yesterday and luckily we were able to do it on the farm.  Shipping one sheep into a clinic is very stressful.  I'd told Hershey what we were going to do and that we were going to try to fix him but even if we couldn't, it would be okay.  

It was a very aggressive malignant tumor...and we did the hard right thing.  And it will be okay...eventually.  


May 2013 - October 2019

I picked this picture not only because it was one of my favorites, but also because it's been so long since he's been chocolate colored (his first shear only) that it's fun to remember why he was named Hershey.  There is a lot fun to remember about Hershey.

Now for a head's up.  The next two posts are not going to be any easier to read.  I'm posting them all in a row tonight and separately because they all deserve their own posts and I don't want to drag it out over three days.  

It will all be okay...eventually.


I've lost track of how many times I thought I'd be writing these words.  So many times that now that I'm actually having to write it...I don't know what to say.  

Renny probably should have died before she ever hit that muddy pond years ago.  She should have died in the pond.  She should have died at the animal shelter.  She should have died at the vet clinic.  She probably should have died even after she got to our farm.  There was never a tougher sheep.

I think she must have had a huge heart.  And a lion's share of courage.  So many of us worked together to care for her as she saved herself and I know none of us will ever be the same.   I know I never thought I'd be able to do the things I had to do to care for her in those early days. Roar!

I hope anyone who didn't know Renny will stumble across her for years to come and learn from her that we can live through and do way more than we think we can.  That if you can just hold on a little longer, you might get pulled out from the mud, your wounded legs heal and the rest of your life be spent surrounded by friends.

Renny had been declining all summer.  I knew it was coming.  Her body was worn out.  Still, I was not prepared for her collapse yesterday morning.  As I sat with her, her head on my lap, both PPPP and Billy Belly came over to see her.  They knew what was coming as well.

It will be okay...eventually.

If you need to stumble across Renny's story, here are a few links.


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