Archive for April, 2009

Lambing is over!

April 21, 2009

Every year I look forward to lambing, and after three weeks of checking at 9 p.m. before I go to bed, and not leaving the house for more than two hours at a time, I look forward to lambing’s being over. This year was no exception…In addition, the goatie-girls came back from the neighbor’s, as my knee was feeling well enough that I was feeling guilty about farming them out, so to speak. And, this past Sunday, I was supplying for our priest, so she could get some rest after a grueling Holy Week. Friday, John went to NYS to pick up a friend and head to some antique car show in N.J. That meant I was alone, with still one ewe to lamb, and with having to milk two goats morning and evening.  Not that he could do either of those things, you realize, but he could CALL someone if there was a problem, or if I had to leave and there was a ewe in labor.  Saturday a.m. I got up and out there early, by 5:45, just to see how long the whole routine would take me.  I was back inside in an hour, at 6:45, which meant that if all went as well on Sunday, I could get back in by 6:45, change into priest clothes, and get out of here by 7.  The only tricky part was what if the ewe was in labor Sunday morning and having trouble.  I checked her again at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and with great relief, found she had just had twins.  After penning them up, I got the iodine to dip their cords, and mama, thinking I was a mean person, came over protectively and knocked my hand, the one with the iodine in it, and so I spilled two ounces of iodine all over my hand…no big deal…and my ring.  The ring is now reddish brown gold with reddish brown sapphire and diamonds.  Jewelry cleaner didn’t do much.  Clorox didn’t do much…Tomorrow John will take it to the jewelers to be cleaned properly.  Anyway, the guy who called about buying the goats, who was to come on Sunday, called on Saturday afternoon and asked if he could get them then.  YES!  He came, loaded up Daisy, Rosie, Violet, and baby Petunia (the baby in the car so she wouldn’t get stepped on or fallen on on the way home), and off he went.  He was thrilled.  I think they’ll have a good home.  I miss them, but sure don’t miss milking them…I have found that milking goats is just not my thing.  I don’t like accepting limitations, but there it is.  I’m not a goat milker.  They are in a better place with someone who has milked animals all his life, likes it, and is happy with these goatie-girls.  That meant Sunday morning was a breeze…

However, after standing in high heels for 4-1/2 hours, going up and down steps here and there from nave to altar and back and pulpit and back, my knee was not in a happy mood…and I, not used to the amount of energy it takes to keep a congregation in thrall, anymore, was exhausted, so I went home and took a long nap with a couple of aspirin and a tylenol.  The knee was fine with a bit of rest, and so was I.  John came home, and I announced that the “pig stand” (our name for the ice cream/hamburger/etc. outdoor summer eating mecca around the corner) was open, first day, and so we went out and got hot fudge sundaes, another spring ritual.  All in all, a good weekend…and as a bonus, since I was sleeping downstairs, I figured it was a good time to get rid of Lizzie’s crate and see if she would sleep on her “night-night bed” in the corner.  So, for two nights, she slept there, with me on the couch next to her, and for the last two nights, she’s slept there with us upstairs.  Yahoo!  Another step toward adulthood and civilization for her.

It rained all night and is pretty mucky out there this morning, which means she didn’t get to go out and run up and down in the muck while I fed the animals.   She is not particularly happy about that, but is consoling herself by chasing “chicken” (her rubber dog toy that sort of looks like a chicken) around the house.

I finished Laura’s leopard patterned zebra fish costume (granddaughter is having a play about diversity in first grade: most of the kids are dressed as traditional zebra fish; a few as leopard patterned zebra fish–apparently a real mutation which occurs among same–and they will reject and then accept “someone different from us”.), so today I have to mail it off to her.  So, I’m off to the post office later this morning…and it’s Tuesday, so it’s a spinning group day.

Yesterday, I ear-tagged the last of the jugged lambs and let them out with the flock, took down all the jug panels.  Now, I can bring the box of lambing supplies in the house, order CDT vaccine, and relax until next week, when I have to start to put fencing up, a length or two at a time, given the knee, so that in a couple of weeks, when the grass is six inches tall, the girls can go out on pasture for the summer, another sort of ritual to mark the coming of the warm time and the grass.  Then, the piglets come…life on a farm goes on and on, over and over, new life, death, warm, cold, pasture, shed…life is good.


A Holy Week…waxing theologically, again, beware!

April 12, 2009

This is indeed a Holy Week…Two Paschal mysteries, two traditions, meld almost to present us with salvific metaphors for all people…In the Hebrew scriptures and celebrated ever since as Passover, the people of God are asked to sacrifice a whole lamb, an intact, unblemished male under a year old (is this “Greek” for a virgin?  Certainly my ram lambs are kept separate from the ewes once they are capable of breeding them…but we don’t speak of virginity as holy for males, only for females, right?  Give me a break!), and to spread the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels, so that the people will be spared, will be passed over, as a plague comes and wipes out all firstborns in the land…and then, those saved people flee slavery and subjugation and journey to a new land, are “re-born” so to speak as a free people in a new place.  And in the Christian tradition, the Jewish scholarly system of midrash, repeating the old metaphors to give them more power,  the Lamb of God is sacrificed, and by his blood, the people are saved.  Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, to Christians way of thinking, though not to Jewish, is the Paschal victim,we even say, each week, in the Mass, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”  And the people are saved, re-born, as it was, into a new life, a life in Christ…Same metaphor, different, but very much the same, anyway, application.  The metaphor is expanded: in the Hebrew scriptures, the people of the book, the people of God, the Apiru, are saved.  In the Christian application, Christ dies and ALL of CREATION is saved, is new, not just the people of the book, not just believers (though there are some who would say you are only saved if you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour…but that defies the entire tradition of salvation being a community event, not a personal one.  It is, in a way, anti-scriptural…for if, for example, you are deaf and blind and in the road, looking west, and a truck comes from the east at a very fast clip and doesn’t see you, and I jump out in the road, unbeknownst to you, and signal the truck to stop, and it does…you are saved, whether you assent to that salvation or not.)  This, I think, is the message of Easter: that it is done, it is finished, as Jesus said on the cross: Creation is born anew, and we celebrate it in the Spring, when creation shouts it out: the peepers peep, the grass greens, the bulbs come up, the snow melts, the cold goes (though it’s hard to tell that today!  Not what I’d call a really pretty morning!  Cold and windy, for sure!), and we know that life is good, that life goes on.

There was an article in the paper this week about some guy who read the bible, and wrote about it: about how cruel and nasty God is.  What he failed to acknowledge is that the bible is some people’s interpretation of the events of their lives, PEOPLE’s interpretation of who God is, and like people everywhere, they are prone to assuming that if something bad happens to their enemies, it is God doing it.  God gets to be the heavy every time.  And if something good happens to them, it is God doing it…despite assurances in the bible that “the rain falls on the good and the bad equally,” which I take to mean that God gives people credit for dealing with their own difficulties and celebrating their own joys, and it is this INDEPENDENCE, and not slavery to a God, that we celebrate.  God has set us free: and we read of that metaphor in the Passover story and in the Easter story…It is the same story…We are free, no longer slaves…we are re-born.  The bears tell the same story: each spring they awake from a deep sleep, and come alive again.  They enact the Passover story and the Easter story…now, comes the real challenge: as Mary Oliver, the poet,  says, “What are you going to do with this one life you have to live.?”  This new, born again, life of freedom?  There’s the real question: how will we all respond to the freedom we have been given? How will we live out our joy, deal with our sorrows, sing and dance in celebration of the new life we have, reflected each year in the seasons, in the stories our ancestors told around campfires, and then wrote down…AND, how does this all play out in the southern hemisphere where it isn’t getting warmer, but colder?  Clearly, these stories originated in the northern hemisphere!  They, like all primitive, cosmological myths, originate in nature’s rhythms, and follow them…hmm…okay, southern hemisphere folks: what say you?

Jeepers, creepers!

April 11, 2009

We now have some peepers! Gosh oh, gee whiz, surely must be Spring! Last night on the way back from church, on the top of the hill on Gulf Road, first place to hear them, the peepers were out, peeping away. NOW, I know it’s really Spring! The MRI showed some little deterioration/tearing of the meniscus, but not enough to merit surgery or write home about. Doc’s advice: sit on it, as in, do nothing for now, and see if it doesn’t totally heal itself, as it seems to be doing.  Good news, as I was trying to figure out what 6  weeks in the course of the year I could afford to be on crutches.  Hopefully, it will all take care of itself and this will not be a repeating pattern…It is/was not fun.

This morning, I ear tagged the last two penned up lambs and let them with their mamas, out into the paddock with the other sheep. Sheep mothers are like human mothers, with different degrees of “mothering” ranging from smothering to laissez faire.  This morning, one of each.  One mother kept close, made her baby stay right under her nose, didn’t venture any farther than the shed.  The second mother took off, her baby screaming after her, got out to the end of the winter paddock and started screaming for the baby. God forbid she should actually go looking for him.  I carried him out, she let him drink, gave him some advice, and took off again.  That’s been the way of it all morning, except I stopped being the nanny.  It is supposed to shower on and off this morning, looks like it will, and is very damp.  The sun is supposedly appearing again on Monday.  It was here yesterday as well.  We are really getting the April showers this year…almost seems like a monsoon season!  The dirt roads are interesting.  They’ve been regrading one section of our road almost every other day. Last time they put stones down and ground them in with the mud, which hopefully will keep the ruts from forming quite so quickly…

Yesterday, I spent the better part of the day making lasagna: sauce first, with our tomatoes and our sausage which I made and stuffed last September; then late afternoon, building the trays of lasagna with the lasagna noodles, sauce, sausage, and cheeses.  Three are in the freezer, one in the frig, for sometime this weekend. This is such a federal case that I only do it once a year, but try to make several.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday.  We will have dinner with John’s Mom at the nursing home, which we do on all holidays.  The kids can’t make it up, because of work commitments.  So, we’ll have a pretty quiet holiday.  Which makes it easier to mark as a Holy Day, without all the hustle and bustle of preparing meals for guests and entertaining them.

Today, I need to go to the fabric shop and find some leopard print material to make Laura a leopard=patterned zebra fish costume for a class play, dealing with diversity.  I haven’t a clue how I’m going to do this, but it will come to me, I’m sure.

Next Sunday, I’m supplying for Susan, who will be away for a week, recovering from Holy Week (or as most clergy tend to call it, because of the toll it takes on our health and well-being: Hell Week).  Doing all those services and all those sermons, plus entering into the mystery and misery of Holy Week, being down in the pit and then somehow, rising up overnight Saturday night so that we can be resurrected on Sunday, is a difficult journey each year.  Renewing in spirit, for sure, but by the end of the week, all I ever wanted to do was sleep and not hear the world “church” for a week!  So, if I can give her the Sunday after Easter off, by doing the services for her, that is good, and I’ve done a good thing.  Now, I have to come up with a sermon for next week…hm…

Still two more ewes to lamb out, and then lambing is finished.  Some time in the next week, I get the goatie-girls back from the neighbors who so kindly took them while my knee was totally unable to cope with milking them.  I am still planning to sell them, though I haven’t had a lot of bites.  I guess I’ll continue milking them for a little while in the hopes of selling them as milkers.

May first or thereabouts, the sheep go out on pasture, which means between now and then, I have miles of fence to put up. The snow is mostly gone, though a bit still remains on my perennial garden, the last to melt, generally.  The ground is not quite totally thawed yet, but is getting there.  Soon I have to put the chickens on the garden as well, to till it.  Spring IS here, for sure.  It is good to have the knee healing.

Some new lambs!

April 3, 2009

Here are some new lambs…first, Hannah and her little boy:


And Jacqueline and her little ewe lamb:


And Turtle with her twins, one ram, one ewe:


And one last one, Lydia Coopworth and her twins, a black ewe and a white ram:


There are more but I’ve not gotten photos yet.  The jacob lamb born last night is very nice, born to Unzicker Allison…still not light enough out to get a good photo.

Four more ewes to go…

Will we need an ark?

April 3, 2009

The weather report this morning seems to be calling for heavy rain today, showers tomorrow, cloudy Sunday and then rain, rain, rain for the next few days. It’s already soggy down in the shed from the rain we’ve been having…The house is dry, but I feel bad for the sheep. And speaking of which, lambs have been a-poppin’. 8 of the 12 ewes bred have lambed out. I have some photos which I’ll post later today…I have a few really nice looking lambs, mostly ram lambs, and a few sort of homely ones, but all seem to have nice fleece. At the moment there are more boys than girls, but I hope that gap will close.

My knee appears to be doing better, and my hope is that it will all resolve itself without any surgical intervention necessary, but only time, and an MRI (unless it’s totally healed by Tuesday!) will tell.  I gave up the brace two days ago, and it has improved greatly since then.  Still gets tired, and I’m a little gimpy, but all in all, great improvement.

This morning a reporter from the local paper is coming to take some pictures…I hope it isn’t raining yet then.  It is starting to get light so it’s time for me to go down and see if anyone popped any babies last night or way early this morning.  Lucas will be here tomorrow to do more eartagging, which is good because all the lambing jugs are filled up to the brim, and I need more room.  More later…