Thursday, December 31, 2009


So today is my birthday and as I was giving Beau and the girls breakfast John came down to sing "Happy Birthday" to me in the barn (what a sweet heart). He encouraged the critters to join in but they just munched away. He said they clapped at the end but I didn't hear them. Anyway, it was a great day even if the town of Chatham didn't allow John to bring all the entertainment he has been providing me with (on my birthdays for the last many years) to me in Virginia. [I must have had some terrible childhood disease when everyone else learned sentence structure]. And even if the Roanoke Museum of Fine Art was closed today.

I was never big into astrology - maybe read my horoscope in the K.C. Star growing up- but I believe in astrology just don't have the time or interest to learn more. Anyway, I was thinking a couple of days ago that probably 95% of all sheep are born in the first four months of the year so what does that mean about sheep personalities? There are probably only a handful of Leo sheep. Maybe that is a good thing -lambs that have the characteristics of lions? Strange thing to think about.

Thank you all who called today or emailed or sent me cards I feel loved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My neighbor Charlie

Another cold day and the pasture is still covered with snow. "How long till the green grass comes back?", is the question I think I see in their eyes every time I go out to the barnyard. At least I drive to other places and see grass. My friend Karen and I were commenting yesterday that as we see big clumps of grass here and there along our travels we immediately think of them in terms of how our animals would love to be there munching. It is kind of like after I got my sheep and admired their fleece I started looking at people's hair in term of how it would be to spin. I think I need a trip to the city.
When I got home from work today my neighbor, Charlie, followed me up the driveway. He brought "the kids" some hay (so they would remember him he said). He is the one that takes care of our critters when we are away for a couple of days but today we are here. He has 30 some head of cattle and he brings our critters hay. What a neighbor!
John learned to drive Charlie's tractor and drop a hay bale for when Charlie and his nephew aren't available (which so far has been never) and I give Charlie goodies. John has given him quite a bit of help on his house and helped get his truck out of the ditch in the snow last week. I gave him a box of Christmas goodies. Oh well, maybe I give him something else that I am not aware of. Many people have given me important things that they are probably not aware of. My work is counseling kids and their families and one of the most important things I try to share with them is how everyone is connected and any little kindness affects all.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finally, a patch of GREEN. Unfortunately it wasn't in the sheep pasture; but rather the lawn of the cabin. So how to get them out one gate and in another. This was the first time any of the sheep have been out of their pasture since their arrival except for Amelia who had to go to the vet the second day she was here. (That is another story.) Beau (our guard llama) has been out a couple of times with his halter and once when he escaped going out the gate with the tractor. Memories came back of how hard it was to get him back. But, the patch of grass was growing bigger by the cabin and Lyndy said Hildegard looked depressed so we decided to give it a try. I got some hay and started walking toward the gate with Beau immediately following, but the girls hesitated when it meant walking through the snow. With a little encouragement they soon followed as well. With John and Lyndy in their places, the gates were opened and I led Beau and the sheep to the new area. When they got through the second gate they eyed the clear patch and left me and the hay behind and started chomping away on the greeeen grass.
John and Lyndy both said, "good luck getting them back".
Every sheep farmer I have ever talked to said sheep will follow you anywhere if you rattle a little grain in a bucket. After a good time was had by all I put it to the test. It could not have been easier getting the critters back to the barn for a snack of grain and a bit of hay. We did notice awhile later that they were all trying to retrace their steps back to greener pastures not hesitating at the snow this time. Sorry girls. Sorry Beau. Hope they don't figure out the gate latch.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Peace on Earth Good Will to Men!

Monday, December 21, 2009

As Fred Rogers would say, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood". It is two days after the big snow. Our shovels are put to the side for the most part, my snow shoes are parked, ( but wait- that's how I can get the compost to the compost pile), and our road is plowed. I don't really need or want to get out but it is nice to know that friends and neighbors can get here now.
This is one of those days that is starting out with everything going right, especially in the barn. I needed to give one of the sheep (Amelia) something for worms and cut some of her dirty fleece. As with everything you do with sheep, getting the right one where you want it and everyone else out of the way is the challenge, the job you have come to do is the easy part (or at least so far). Well today John and I went out to the barn with tools in hand and a plan and Amelia walked up to us and went into the pen ALONE and looked at us as if to say, "here I am". Truly AMAZING! John held her while I squeezed the stuff in her mouth and she took it easily. Then I stood next to her and decided to try to flip her the traditional one person way and it worked! John held her in the flipped sheep position while I clipped some of her dirty fleece and we were done. NOTHING could have gone any easier. The rest of the sheep and Beau were, of course, hanging around outside the pen giving moral support but not in the way.
I write this now, to remind me later, that some times everything goes right. How do I put a star on this post?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Farming

I used to think of winter farming as a few tomatoes in the greenhouse until Christmas. Today I was introduced to a whole new kind of winter farming which entails getting to the barn and giving the sheep and Beau food and water. Not a difficult task unless there are 18"s of snow on the ground for the entire trek. Fortunately, my daughter Lyndy gave me snow shoes a few years ago. When I finally arrived at the barn, Hildegard came out to greet me as usual and then had that expression of "Oh no, what have I done, and how do I turn around". None of the critters seemed to mind the snow really except for being confined in the barn and a couple of small areas that I shoveled out just outside the doors. I felt sorry for them, especially Beau who likes to come down to the gate and see what we are up to so I shoveled from the barn to the gate. Then I began to worry that if they followed each other, as of course they always do, someone would end up getting pushed into deep snow that they couldn't get out of when one of them decided to turn around. So I made the path wide enough for 2-way traffic plus a big turnaround by the gate. I hate all the "dumb sheep" stories that people feel obliged to tell me when they hear I have sheep. Hearing all the stories makes me think my sheep are going to do something really stupid which they haven't yet. How long before I can put the stories behind me. It took quite a while to shovel but it was a delightful day; not too cold and not windy.
I love being a sheep farmer even with 18"s of snow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Was This When?

Was this when I decided to start blogging? One of my sisters and a friend kept encouraging me to start a blog. As with the book I am writing, first it was "no", then "no" , then I don't know, then O.K. O.K.
When I was thinking about it, I thought there really wasn't much to say and then last week each day something extraordinary happened. There were the Reindeer tracks in the snow and mud, the cristal pitcher in the water bucket, and then this picture of Beau in the barn with the snow coming down. My daughter Lyndy said she was going to use it for her desk top for awhile. It has taken me a week to figure out this blog thing and I am still not sure how it works BUT here goes.
I am writing this blog to journal my beginnings as a farmer. This way I can keep track of what I did when or so they say. I really do think I was born to be a farmer. I have VERY fond memories of being on my grandmother's farm when I was 4 or 5. A wonderful farm house with a warm inviting kitchen, A HUGE (as I remember it) Rock where we used to go for picnics of sugar sandwiches, and a horse named (Hoosat) for who is that. She should see me now. No horses but 6 sheep and a llama.
Sure took me awhile to get here but then if you talk to anyone that knows me, they will tell you it takes me awhile to do ANYTHING.