Most days I go outside to tend the animals and it's the same 'ole same 'ole. Then there are days where it's like a wild ride without the horse under me. This morning was the latter. It started out the same, putting my coveralls on over all my clothing layers, then my jacket, scarf, hat, waterproof garden gloves, winter work gloves, socks, wool socks, and boots. Yes, I like to layer. No, I don't have a problem moving my arms like that poor little boy stuffed into the red snow suit in the A Christmas Story movie. I dress for warmth and then peel off layers if I need to, which will be in late spring.
Anyhow, back to the story... I walked out to the red barn and heard this weird sound coming from the sheep stall. It was like something grating on metal. As I rounded the corner of the barn I saw Badge using his horns to lift the blue gate to the sheep stall up and out of it's holders. It was latched, and a board was across it, but Badge was determined. You see, love is in the air around here. We've separated several areas into little love abodes, some are making use of them, others aren't yet. There's a method to my breeding madness. Even so, Badge was bound to mess with my matchmaking. Too bad he forgot I always win.
So, I saw him lift that gate up with his horns and squeeeeze himself through the little opening he made. It was pretty amazing to see it happen so fast, and I can see the instant replay in my mind even now. Then it was utter chaos. There he was, running around like a randy teenager, lips peeled back, smelling and making pitiful sounds. The horses were having none of it, and chose to stay out of the chaos. The ewes who were waiting their turn to occupy the love abode with Little Man were not impressed with his jail break. They scattered and he gave chase. At that point I stopped, had a brief movie montage in my head of me, lasso in hand riding Rain into the fray...me, with the shepherd's crook in one hand, waving my cowboy hat with the other...you get the picture. Then I snapped out of it and was back in the moment!
Due to the wild ride I went on with Rain some time ago, which is another story in itself, I chose the crook, a tempting sheep treat, the horse stall, and the reluctant enlistment of Eldest and Kid. Cowboy hat was in the house. They put treat in a few metal bowls to rattle around and make noise while we yelled, "Woolie treat, woolie treat!" Next thing you know, all of those ewes who were scattered around the field, running like maniacs, dead stopped. Their heads went up, their ears all swung their attention our way, and then it was a stampede. Okay, more like a staaaaayumpeeede, actually. Eldest and Kid ran those bowls into the horse stalls (because of Badge's sheep stall gate removal) and jumped up onto the railings to get out of the way. There they went...ewes running like lightning into the stalls to get to the treat. Then there came Badge, up the little hill, lips peeled back in a big grin, bringing up the rear. Have you ever seen that old Loony Tunes cartoon with the skunk, Pepe Le Pew, that skips and floats on air as he's chasing his love cat? That's what he reminded me of. He made his way into the stall with the ladies and that's when the real work began. Eldest manned the door, Kid was moral support, and I was in there with the crook, getting a hold of a ewe and taking her over to the gate to give her freedom. It was not an easy job, keeping my eye on Badge while freeing the other captives, but I got the job done. After they were all free I realized I should have kept Z and Dandy in there with him since they were his roommates until the breakout. Since Z is a carefree trusting soul, I was able to wrangler her back in easily, but Dandy wasn't going for it. Instead of running around the field like a maniac trying to get her, I decided to let Hon get her later. Why let him miss all the fun?
So, there you have it folks. A bit of a hectic morning here, but we've had chaos before. Badge has been re-wrangled back into the red barn and is looking at a solid door this time. Z's with him and Dandy is footloose and fancy free out in the pond pasture with the horses and the rest of the non-penned up ewes - until Hon gets home. Badge has tried his hand at escaping into the great ewes beyond, but we foiled his plans. He really is a good boy and his genetics have given us some fantastic lambs. It's just this time of year when love is hanging heavy in the air that he gets big ideas and forgets I'm the queen of this here farm. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Today's the day...Thanksgiving. A holiday we look forward to celebrating every year. Sure, it's about the feast, but it's also about giving thanks to those men and woman who came before us, no matter how great or small, paving the way for what we have today.
Thank you, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, for the insight to fund Christoper Columbus's voyage to the Indies (that's all the lands of East Asia many moons ago). Thank you, Christoper Columbus, for thinking the world was smaller than it actually is, and also thinking you could get to the Indies quicker by heading west. Without your "shortcut," who knows when America would have been discovered.
Do you know that Columbus is the person that helped start an agricultural revolution in Europe? He sure did. He took back seeds for different varieties of corn, peppers, beans, potatoes, and tomatoes. And the sharing went both ways, with plants and livestock being brought to America. No one ever had pumpkin or turkey until came from North America. Everyone benefit from this one man's thought that he could get to the Indies by going west to get east.
Of course, we can't by any means forget many other explorers like John Cabot, Ponce de Le'on, and Henry Hudson. Their continuing to explore brought about many new and wonderful surprises about our world. If I had a hat on, I'd take it off and salute you, but instead I'll give you my thanks.
And then there were the settlers. Those men and woman who risked all to come to our new world looking for religious freedom, a means to better their station in life, and adventure. It was by no means easy. Many of the colonists didn't survive, especially during early settlements, like Jamestown. Thank you to the settlers who traveled such a great distance to give us a new beginning.
A mighty big thank you goes out to the Powhatan Indians and Pocahontas (Matoax). Thank you to the Wampanoag tribe and Squanto (Tisquantum), too. We give thanks to all of the Native American tribes, and I apologize for not being able to list them all. Without your help, our colonists would not have survived to see their first Thanksgiving, sharing it with Massasoit and the Native Americans he brought with him to the feast.
Our first national Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by George Washington in 1789, quite a while after the first Thanksgiving feast. When that was is sort of a question. Some say it was with Francisco Coronado in 1540, others in Maine in 1605. Then there's 1619 Massachusetts, and what most come to settle on as being 1621 with the Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower and landed at Plymouth. No matter what the date, I am thankful for being here, enjoying a meal with friends and family, giving thanks to everyone who came before me.
So, there you have it folks. My brief and I'm sure somewhat spotty knowledge of Thanksgiving. From our family to yours, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving day. Our country truly is a great one and would not be what it is today without the pain and suffering, joys and discoveries, and everything else that folks have gone through in our history. It's not always been a pleasant history, but it has shaped our country and made it what we are today. Be thankful, enjoy your meal, and above all, give thanks. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
As the sun was going down yesterday and we were putting away our high tech shearing equipment, Eldest was beginning a high school assignment. It was a wonderful assignment - Una Cena Deliciousa assignment. That means a delicious dinner, by the way. Seeing as I don't actually know Spanish, I looked it up.
You see, one of our non-negotiable rules around here is the kids have to learn Spanish. Now you're asking what languages I know...English. That's right. That's it. I did try on a few occasions to take a basic German class in high school, but not enough folks signed up for it, so it was a no go. It really would have been helpful when I went to Germany...especially when I guessed the signs wrong when I had to use a public bathroom...or when my group was in Australia and decided to go over a fence, ignoring the sign that we couldn't read at the time, but later found out it meant to stay out because of the big bull in there. I don't even remember taking a language being an option at the little college Hon and I went to, but that was also many moons ago and I was in love, not to mention the college mascot and in a sorority, so it's a bit hazy.
Anyway, Eldest's OHVA Spanish teacher gave him an assignment last week to cook an authentic Spanish/Mexican meal. Because I'm a food lover, especially if it's fried or has anything to do with chocolate, I was whole heartedly into this assignment. Also since I wasn't the chef. He poured over recipes and settled on empanadas as his main meal and churros for dessert. I had no idea what they were, but being as I wasn't the preparer of the meal... I was in the kitchen for moral support, though.
First thing I noticed Eldest had a time grappling with was the fact that he was to prepare two things at the same time. My response, "Welcome to my world. Want to talk about me making those big holiday dinners?" He had to figure out the order in doing things, which sometimes isn't an easy thing. Afterwards he dove into the making of it. He mixed, he refrigerated, he learned how to separate out an egg white, and he fried. Oh, how he fried. You see, both empanadas and churros are fried. Oh my heavens! And even better yet, the churros had this insanely delicious chocolate dipping sauce that I, of course, without a doubt in my mind, ate without hesitation.
In the end, after all the grease had finished splattering around, the sugar/cinnamon dust had been dusted, and the table had been set, we sat down and found ourselves munching an absolutely awesome dinner. Eldest even added grapes to the table as another thing to eat - veggies and fruit are pretty much interchangeable around here most nights, anyway. He made us a fantastic dinner and I really appreciated the time he took to do it. I also appreciate his teacher for assigning this, as if she hadn't we'd have been doing who knows what for dinner last night.
So, there you have it, folks. Eldest did a great job making dinner. He even got out of doing dishes, though it's his week for dinner dish detail - Hon did them instead. We expanded our cuisine horizons and I found yet another fried food - and one to dip in chocolate to boot - that I love. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Today I did it. I sheared a sheep. In fact, I sheared 3 1/2 sheep. That half comes from Z, since I started giving her a trim using the scissors earlier in the week and only got about half finished, but she's not lopsided anymore.
Those of you that know me know I'll get to the point of going out in the field and getting a hold of one of the sheep and start cutting away with the Fiskar scissors. You see, Hon's a busy man, and I don't feel like I can harass him too much over sheep not being sheared, being as he has two jobs...and a boat load of other stuff to do around here on top of that. I decided this afternoon it was time to get a hold of Z, trim her up so she wasn't looking so funky, and then move on to the next unsuspecting sheep. That was Lucy, by the way.
Problem with those Fiskars, as much as I love using them, is they start pressing on parts of my fingers that in the end feel tingly for days because I bruise a nerve. I remembered buying Hon a pair of hand shears (the non-electric ones) last May that hadn't been used yet. I figured if I can use Fiskars and get the job done, as slow as it is, I can give those medieval things a go, too. I'd use the electric shears, but I'm a wimp at heart, and they just make me nervous. It was time to put on my big girl panties and move up from the Fiskars. I did, however, keep them in my back pocket for moral support.
As I was shearing Lucy (I just love to say that because I sound so professional), Hon came out and asked me if I needed help. "Nope, I'm good, " I said. Then Kid came out and asked me about shearing his Leicester Longwool, Ramley. I was kind of getting tired since I'm slower than molasses when it comes to wool removal, and asked him to find out from Hon how he wanted to do it - electric shears or not - really hoping Hon would do it. He said he'd shear Ramley, so he got out all the stuff he uses to do it - electric cord, tarp and stuff to keep it on the ground, shears, oil spray for the shears - caught Ramley, and turned those shears on. Nothing - they wouldn't work - something was broken. That meant I was going to work on Ramley, too. Problem was, I had gotten Hon to catch Little Man for me before he started his setup, so I was working on him. Kid held onto Ramley while I worked on Little Man, filling up a garbage bag with all his fibery goodness. I must admit, I did a real nice job using those shears, too. I like to think he was happy with his new look.
Oh...about 45 minutes later...it was Ramley's turn. Now I'm a lot more high tech than Hon is when it comes to shearing equipment. I moved over to him with my scissors (ahem, hand shears) and plastic bag. Being as this is the first time we've sheared Ramley, I noticed his fiber is kind of cool. It all hangs in separate locks. Hon helped me by holding him still. He was a nervous little bugger - Ramley that is, not Hon. I cut and cut and cut and cut. I'm sorry, that's wrong. I sheared and sheared and sheared and sheared. I could pick his locks up and cut them quite nicely without worry of second cuts. Since I'm a lot more high tech than Hon when I shear, I prefer to have the sheep standing while I move around them, whereas Hon starts with them on their behind, their back sort of laying against his legs, and does this flipping them around thing. He has his way, I have mine...and I am not the Hulk. After a while, when I got to some of the more delicate areas of a ram, I did get out my Fiskars, which I think made us both feel a bit better about the situation. While I did that Hon took the shears and started in on some other parts of him. Figures I got stuck with the back end and all it's poopy parts while he got to work on the front, but I suppose someone had to get the job done... Besides, Lucy had already peed into my rubber boot and Little Man had made sure to also make a deposit...so I wasn't the cleanest. In the end, Ramley had his wool removed. Hon and I did a great job working together and getting the job done. We're a great team. If I hadn't been so worn out, I'd have asked him to wrangle another sheep over, but tomorrow's another day...and I wanted to get my wet boot off.
So, there you have it folks. I did a painfully slow but professional (in my world) shearing job, graduating from total Fiskar scissor cut to those non-electric hand shears. Z, Lucy, Little Man, and Ramley are all looking spiffy out there in the field, sporting their new hair cuts. The others have resorted to eyeing me nervously. While we were shearing, Hon said, "Shearers have the softest hands!" I told him we need to print that on a t-shirt because it is oh so true! I don't know about you, but I need to go get cleaned up. Smells a bit sheepy around here. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I know what you're thinking - not only is this a long story (which I hope you read to the end), but you're also thinking I've gotten the title all wrong. Well, I really don't. There is a method to my strawberry blonde madness sometimes. I've been thinking about this story for a few weeks now and decided it's time to share. Maybe it's because of the upcoming holidays, or the devastation so many folks have found themselves dealing with after the storms in the East. Maybe it's because we've recently found ourselves on the receiving end of a generous gift which I will always be thankful for. Let me give you a few definitions via Merriam-Webster. According to M-W, the word gift is, among several definitions, "Something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation," and, "the act, right, or power of giving." Receive is, "To come into possession of : acquire <receive a gift>." Therefore, the gift of receiving is to acquire or come into possession of a gift which has been voluntarily transferred by one person to another. Following me? I knew you would. Welcome to my world.
You see, we've had a few months of Murphy's Law around here. I thought hay prices and needing to find enough to get us through winter was nerve wracking! Around the last of September we found ourselves without water due to the pump that's waaaaay down at the bottom of the well giving out. Not a cheap fix, but water is one of those little necessities, so it had to be fixed...pronto. Then came early October and we found ourselves with a broken refrigerator. Mid-October came around and the washing machine died. We were fortunate to find a nice used refrigerator and brought it home, only to find it was on it's last legs. That meant broken refrigerator #2 in the kitchen. It also meant putting what we absolutely had to keep cold back in a cooler with ice. I tried to give myself the 'ole, "This too shall pass," pep talk, and convince myself that it was like camping without the tents. Even so, it was getting a bit discouraging with the broken appliances and the thought of what we had just paid for a new well pump and used refrigerator.
Now let me tell you, Hon and I are givers, doing what we can when we can for folks, regardless of the time of year, but being on the receiving end when in need is a new thing for us. Oh sure, we've had wonderful friends help us with lots of things over the years, and we are truly grateful, but what I'm talking about in this story has to do with gifting one's possessions. I've met so many wonderful people over the years through the internet. I've even been fortunate to meet some of those folks in person, thoroughly enjoying my visits. I met this one woman on-line not too long ago, and was fortunate to meet her face-to-face in September. She's such a creative soul, and someone I have truly enjoyed sharing some time with. Now that woman saw a post I had made about all the things breaking around here, and my fussing and worrying over what to do. She also gave me a call on a Friday night and said she had a refrigerator in her garage that worked well that she wasn't using. Being a person that's not really been on the receiving end of things like this before, and being an occasional knucklehead, I told her I really appreciated it, but we'd figure something out. Besides, she lives two hours away. I couldn't help but think of the inconvenience she would have getting it here, even though she happily volunteered to bring it and visit. Well, we bantered back and forth in our conversation - me telling her it was getting dark, her saying she could have that fridge here in a couple of hours, that she didn't want us to go without even one day longer; me telling her it's going to rain, her telling me she and her other half would wrap it in a tarp... Finally I decided she was right. I needed to suck it up and take her up on her generosity. I just didn't know what to think, being offered such a gift from far away.
This kind woman and her other half brought us that refrigerator to us at night, in the rain, in the wind. I fretted over them driving in the weather, feeling guilty about it. Then when they got here with it all my worries melted away. Hon and her other half brought that refrigerator in and when I saw it I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. She even brought a little mini refrigerator for us to keep our vaccines and other livestock medicines needing to be kept cool in, since those had also been ruined.
After the refrigerator was put in place we had a wonderful visit. I had found peace of mind. We laughed and talked into the wee hours of the morning. It was a grand time! Now you're wondering why I'm telling you this story. I'm not telling you this to gain your pity, or to make you squirm and evaluate your life. I'm telling you this because of what I learned. I learned that everyone needs a helping hand once in a while and it's okay to take part in the gift of receiving. I feel good about having helped folks out, however we could over the years, with everything from turkey for the soup kitchen to furniture for families who found themselves flooded out. I truly believe every penny counts when it comes to putting money in a jar for a person or a pet at the gas station, too. We do what we can to help our neighbors, and for us, our neighbors are many. I learned that receiving that gift didn't makes us weak, but made us stronger by lifting a weight off our shoulders. It showed me that someone else out there cared enough to give up something of their own for us when they didn't have to. I am thankful that my friend helped me learn a valuable lesson.
So, there you have it folks. My story. Our gift of receiving. I could have said, "Absolutely not, no way, no how," but instead I did a head smack and realized accepting help when truly in need is okay. Sort of a heavy story, and not what I usually write, but one I've wanted to share. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I'm the queen of our farm, although the animals wouldn't agree. My title is Head Chicken Wrangler, but most days I'm just called Mom. Life on a farm is full of family and hard work and I wouldn't have it any other way.