The rush that was May is over. There were highs. There were lows. There was one very low, running into early June…but life goes on.
The Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival coincides with my neighbor’s and my annual yard/perennial sale, which means two things to get ready for, instead of one on one Memorial Day Weekend. Suffice it to say, it was accomplished. The perennials mostly sold; the festival was better than usual. Massachusetts is a small fair, with a low gate and not that much business, but it is a relaxing two days (once we get everything packed up, there, and unpacked.) I lucked out in that my friend, Lucas, went with me and was an enormous help unpacking and setting up. He then met some friends and spent the day doing whatever people do at these things when they aren’t running a vendor booth: watching sheep and dog shows, buying stuff, nosing around to see what new yarns, woolens, fleece has come with whom to the festival, checking out the fleece contest, taking a class or two…while Sue and I sold yarn and fleece, mostly, and talked to a few people about sheep, who may or may not call me to buy some. One can always hope…
The following week, I was scheduled to go to Pa. (this is last week) on Wednesday to pick up three sheep brought to their home by friends from Indiana for me, plus one lamb I was buying from these folks, and one ram lamb for a friend up here. Unzickers’ farm is a beautiful and peaceful setting with old house and barn, lots of stone, lovely pastures, complete with brook, in the midst of suburban sprawl in lower Bucks County, Pa. Tuesday night, as I was getting stuff ready to go (double feed and water for the animals…John doesn’t like dealing with them on his own; he’s always afraid they’ll break out, go into the road and get killed…so he’s nervous, which makes them nervous, making it a sure thing that if they get out, they’ll run from him, into the road…so it is better to set things up so he can avoid going too near them.) we got a call from our son, that our daughter-in-law’s baby had died in utero at 22 weeks gestation. They were devastated, as you might well imagine. So, Wednesday, my plan was to not only to go to Pa. but to swing by N.J. on the way home and spend some time with them. Got to the farm, called, and found out that she had opted for a “d and c” (read: abortion) to remove the dead fetus, rather than go through labor and delivery…which meant Philadelphia, because, for some reason, abortions on 22 week gestated dead babies is illegal in N.J. (Does that make sense to anyone?) Anyway, they were at my nephew’s home. Kirk, an Episcopal priest in Phila. lives with his wife and children in the rectory of St. Timothy’s, Roxborough, near the hospital where Vicki would have her “procedure” as they called it. It was an hour from where I was staying, so I drove another hour (after the 7 just completed) to Kirk’s, saw my kids and my grandkids, hugs and tears all around, and then I returned to the farm. The next morning, she had to be a the hospital at 6 a.m., when I was just getting up and revving for the trip back home with the sheep. Drove 7 hours home. They called mid-day to say they were home, Vicki was well, but tired and resting. The funeral was planned for Saturday morning. Originally, they wanted me to officiate, but I begged off, saying it was important for all of us that I be the Granny, so cousin Kirk did the funeral. That meant Friday, we drove back to N.J. After the lovely, quiet, sad but comforting little funeral service at Trinity/All Saints Cemetery in Princeton, we went out to lunch. Then, we had to drive back here. It was beastly hot in N.J., which my body reacted to in its usual way: intestinal difficulties. We made it back at 7 p.m., having driven through four thunderstorms, two of them quite fierce, picked up Margaret at the neighbor’s and collapsed, emotionally and physically exhausted. I felt like I never wanted to get into a car again.
But we did, the following morning, to go to church, and for me, to go to my spinning group meeting, a pleasant and healing afternoon. Got home at 4; found Megan waiting to get her ram lamb, and then other customers came to pick up their little shetland wether, Hamish, and bring him home to meet his new friend, one of Sue and Tom’s shetland wethers. A third will come from another breeder nearby.
So, there’s new life here at the farm (a new ewe and ram lamb, a new ewe lamb, and a lovely new four horned ram) to comfort me and remind me that life goes on. Little Robin Elizabeth’s remains rest next to those of my son, her Uncle Peter. I’d like to think the job of raising her will be his…it helps. And my dear daughter, Vicki, will rest her body and her spirit for awhile, hopefully, before they attempt to have another baby. And Granny and Grampy quietly grieve, holding onto the thought that babies who die in utero do so for a reason and that perhaps the baby had such severe problems that living would have been impossible or difficult for her, and this was the better way, nature’s way, to make all things new, however difficult it is for those left behind to live. And we will rise to the challenge and LIVE…honoring and remembering those we love who aren’t here with us anymore, but living fully, in their honor and because that is what we’re meant to do.
Now, as far as living goes: I have 11 days to lose 10 pounds, firm up the flab, clean up the house, stock in food for the farmsitter, Ian Stewart, a fellow writer for Black Sheep Newsletter, finish a sweater I want to take, and get to the airport, as we head to Ireland on June 15th for 12 days, with a bunch of friends on a homegrown Irish farm tour hosted by fellow jacob breeders with a farm in Maine and a farm in Ireland. I am very pleased that Ian was free to come farm sit. He is a former sheep breeder from New Zealand, who now travels the world over, farm sitting for folks, experiencing life, stopping for a few months here and a few months there, enjoying life and learning ever more. So, my “sewing room” which now looks like a disaster area after a tornado has gone through, has to be turned into the guest room it doubles as. The tv room, only second place in the disaster category, has to be turned into a second guest room for Ian’s guests, and the frig needs cleaning out, as well, not a chore I am fond of doing…but it is calling out, or rather, something in it is calling out to my nose every time I open it…wish me luck. I’m off to the attack!