Monday, January 3, 2022



It's days like this that I think of the sheep farmers in Montana.  When I first started out as a sheep farmer, I would go to the online forums about raising sheep and chickens.  There would always be these people in Montana or other isolated places where people were miles and miles from the nearest vet and they would be asking people on the forum if they know what some strange symptoms were and what to do.  Then they would huddle in a barn with a sick animal overnight shutting out a blizzard.  

This morning it is snowing and blowing but it is a nice enough 32 degrees and there are only a few inches of snow to plough through to get down to feed the animals.  There is a hole in the right thumb of my glove but that hardly qualifies as anything more than an inconvenience.  It took longer to dump buckets and get water and hay and a little grain but I wasn't hurrying to get out of the weather and I didn't come in with numb fingers.  It makes me cold just thinking about those accounts I read over 10 years ago.  My heart go out to those hardy souls.  I have always thought Virginia is a fine place to raise sheep.   

Another difference in sheep farming in Montana and Virginia --- it is suppose to be 38 degrees and sunny this afternoon.  Hard to believe with the wind whistling and the snow clad cedars bending but I do believe it, living here.  Maybe I wouldn't living in Montana.  

Friday, December 17, 2021


Sarah, a sheep at Cabin Spring Farm died mid November at the age of 13 or 14 years of age or the equivalent of the 90s in human years.  It was her time to move on.

Sarah, for those who have not met her, is the brown sheep with the all black face.  This is a picture from a few years ago.  When I was looking for a good picture of Sarah, I went back several years.  I sure don't take a lot of pictures of the sheep anymore.  It's like how you take oodles of pictures of kids when they are young and then when they are graduating or getting married or occasionally on vacations.  

I always thought Sarah was one of the prettiest sheep.  She had such a lovely face and beautiful fleece. 
Sarah was the lookout.  You could not sneak up on her ever.  She was the first sheep here to lamb and was a good mother.  She helped the other sheep as they were lambing by cleaning up the first while a second was coming.  She was hard to put anything over on but she never gave a hard time.  She was a good sheep.  Sarah I sang to, in the end, and I was learning "star language" at the time so I greeted her and sang to her in "star language".   Sarah is survived my her daughter, Zorra, and three other sheep friends.  We will all miss her a lot.  

Friday, June 11, 2021

A Quiet Morning and then

 This was a quiet morning maybe a couple of weeks ago.  If you zoom in look front center and just to the right to see this years goslings.  They were born a couple of days apart and look at the size difference.  I love all the different reflections in the goose pond.  Note the sheep are in full fleece but then they were sheared.

It so interesting to see how the colors change from year to year.  Rosa's fleece (right front) got darker this year but Sarah's (right back) got lighter, I think.  Gretta's has SO much lanolin.  I love giving rubs after they are sheared; my hands pick up the lanolin and are very shiny (no picture, sorry).  

It has been a busy Spring; additional planting in the dyer's garden with Sara's help, and improvements in and around the fiber studio with Emily, Henry, Clover, and Violet helping (pictures coming). Almost done and then we decided to go on a little adventure before coming back to finish everything.  The day before we left, I was walking down to a lower garden to water some plants and slipped on wet morning grass and twisted my ankle as I fell.  Turns out I fractured a bone and ended up in a walking boot for the beginning of our trip the next day.  We carried on because I needed some time to rest and figure out how I am going to do everything when I return and Cathy was already lined up to take care of the critters.  SURE IS NICE TO HAVE A LOT OF HELP.  

Now I have to figure out what kind of help I need when I return and where it will come from.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

And Then There Was Annie


This was alway my favorite picture of Annie with Donald and Little Gray.  She definitely seemed to prefer fellow animals over humans.  But even with the other sheep she never liked chaos,  if there were handouts, she would just stand back and I would have to trick the others to get a treat to Annie. When Amelia, Mira, and Charlotte died, there was not so much chaos anymore and Annie would find room to come in for handouts but she seemed to miss the other sheep.  

I have always tried to determine what those around me need that I can help with but with Annie it was difficult.  What it seemed to be was "to be left alone" so I tried to do that, alway looking for opportunities to engage.  There were a few times that I felt we "connected", but for the most part it was living side by side and not pushing her to interact.  That made her death the hardest.  I alway thought that if there were not so many others we would have a different relationship.  Sometimes, I thought she might be happier living somewhere else.When the more dominant sheep died earlier in the year, I thought we would have an opportunity to form a different relationship.  It did seem like that was happening a little,  but she died too soon after they did.  The others I felt I could comfort in some way in their final hours with singing, or hanging out but with Annie I would not go too close trying not to stress her.  Though it made it harder for me, did it make it easier for her, or did she wish and expect  that I would know how to comfort her.

Sweet Annie died 4 weeks ago and I still think about her most days and see her there in the barnyard looking at me.  What did she try to tell me that I didn't understand?  Maybe there was nothing.  Maybe I will never know.  Annie's gift to me was to make me more aware of those in the outskirts or margins and make me want to ponder their wants and needs.  If I can do something for someone living there, maybe I will have done something for Annie.

Friday, April 16, 2021

This is Why I Do What I Do

 The Moon tonight is Brilliant!  When I went down to close the birds in for the night I noticed it above Short Hill; a crescent above the silhouette of the mountain and the still bare trees.  Exquisite and the subtle unfamiliar spring scent in the air made me SO glad that I live here and have my site and smell. 

 Tonight, I went to hang 2 skeins of yarn and some cotton cloth, that have been soaking in the fresh soy milk I made this morning, on the clothesline on the front porch.  The moon had come around the house to greet me again, this time bringing the wind with it to whip the cloth on the line. I want to stay and visit but  have more wool and cotton to put in the bucket for an overnight soak.  I am mordanting some material for a natural dyeing workshop that begins next week on Zoom.  

Tomorrow, Sara is coming to help weed the dyer's garden and maybe we will pick some wild mustard along the roadside to take a break from weeding.  I am Grateful that I have friends that I can hire to help with an over abundance of Spring chores.  Yesterday, Henry, his sisters and their mom came to help clear the barnyard of sticks and stones, repair the hole in the dam of the goose pond, and cover new grass with unwanted hay.  What a difference!!  I know all the animals will be appreciative.  No sticks and stones to step on in the dark.  The goslings will hatch in the next few days and they will be in the pond as soon as 4 days old. 

SO MUCH to do but if I didn't have the animals, would I have seen the perfect moon tonight ?  If I didn't dye with natural dyes, would I be feeling a delightful night breeze tonight?  Maybe, but all I do makes sure that I will experience these treasures often.  The geese and goslings make me laugh, so I take care of the pond. Tomorrow, I will clean the chicken coop-- the chickens are always cleaning up around the barnyard.  

The library is open again so yesterday I checked out some books.  A friend once said when she retired she was going to read and do crossword puzzles and take it easy.  I read all the time and sometimes I think it would be nice to just stop all the rest that I do and read and eat bon bons  and ...???  BUT I would miss too many of life blessings and opportunities. SO, this is why I do what I do.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Do the People in Our Dreams Need to Wear Masks?

 When "New" came to me to be the word I live with this year, I was excited.  As the year has begun I am getting a little anxious.  

We usually think of new as something that is fresh and exciting.  I knew when I was given the word, that it was the noun not the adjective.  I knew that it was "the new" that comes from something- not the shiny, beautiful new ........ but I still anticipated something fun coming in to view.

And then 3 sheep died. Now, coming from that, we have "the new" configuration of the flock with a new leader needed.

Last night I had a concerning dream. 

I am one of those people that dream in great detail.  Usually, silly story dreams or enlightening dreams but sometimes exhausting dreams where I am trying to get somewhere or accomplish something.  Often, there are many people in my dreams.  If one was making a short film from one of my dreams they would have to hire a lot of extras.  My dream last night was filled with people in large numbers and at one point I became aware that no one was wearing a mask.  I remember putting my hand up over my face.  Do the people in our dreams now have to wear masks?  It has now been a year with Covid 19 and coming from that, is "the new" that we get anxious if the dream people around us are not wearing masks?  

I don't mind wearing a mask in day life.  What I find hard to live with is not being able to give and receive a multitude of hugs on a daily basis.  I felt that those hugs were what kept me healthy. At least I can still hug John but I haven't even hugged my daughter's boyfriend and they have now been together a year.  They started dating just before the pandemic but by the time we met him, strict guidelines were in place.

 People who live alone used to have plenty of hugs from neighbors or friends in the grocery store or on the street.  What will keep them healthy in "the new" that comes from health guidelines?

I find it refreshing watching old movies where people are not wearing masks and still hugging.  What can I do to make sure the people in my dreams can still live the life of CLOSENESS so that when things calm down we can resume that in day life?

I am still optimistic that there will be "new"s that come from better things.

Monday, February 8, 2021

"The New"

 The word I am carrying with me this year is "NEW".  As usual, I did not search for it, it came to me.

(For an explanation of "word for the year" go to January blogs from last year.)

It is the noun NEW not the adjective.  It is the new that comes from something. 

 Amelia, Mira, and Charlotte (the 3 sheep furthest to the right in the above picture taken last year) died late December and the first half of January.  I posted about Amelia a couple of posts ago.  Mira died late January 11th or early the 12th.  Charlotte died exactly a week later.  

Most likely they died from the Meningeal worm (a brain/spinal column affliction), though they all had different symptoms.  This worm uses the white tailed deer as a host and is expelled when the deer poops.  Then a snail or slug come along and eats the worm and travels along.  If sheep are grazing in the area where deer have been, they can eat the snail or slug or even get the worm from excreted snail slime.  I had been letting the sheep graze outside the pasture because there was so much grass outside and the pastures had been heavily grazed.  We do have a regular occurrence of deer in the yard but I guess I took a chance.  When you do something and nothing happens for 10 years, you think it won't happen.  And the sheep loved to go out.

Mira was the matriarch of the flock.  Even when she was struggling the past year with arthritis,  and not leading in a robust way, she was the gentle boss.  The other sheep respected her at all times.  I had longer conversations with Mira than any of the other sheep.  She liked attention (most of the time) and even occasionally opted for rubs over hay.

Speaking of attention, Charlotte came looking for attention regularly and loved rubs.  If I was giving out grain, I knew not to have Charlotte behind me because she would paw my pant leg to get my attention.  She thought her turn was between each of the others.  Charlotte would have taken over leading the flock if she were still alive, I think.

Amelia, Mira, and Charlotte were the 3 Cotswolds in the flock.  They are survived by Norma Jean and Gretta (Cotswold/CVM crosses) and of course the rest of the flock of Finns and Finn crosses.

So, who are we without them?  I don't think we have figured out "the New".