My favorite new technology is the Cell Phone. It is a convenient tool for calling the house when extra help is needed in the barn and it is a great tool in an emergency, when veterinary advice is necessary. This time of year, Stephen and I don’t go down to the barn without our cell phones; the ewes’ udders are getting bigger and tighter every day and two dairy goats are due next week.
So last night, when Stephen left to do the early evening barn check and a few minutes later the phone rang, I was sure that he was calling about lambs. “It’s getting kind of crowded down here,” he said. “Lambs?” I asked. “Kids.” he replied.
Does. Early. Triplets. Perfect.
March 7th, 2010
Late winter is a fitful time, a time between sleeping and waking — the bed is warm but the air is so cold. The mourning doves’ melancholy dirges resonate with my reluctance to shift into this new season, even as the curtain rises on daffodils pushing up complete with buds ready to open.
The sun is regaining its intensity and strength, climbing a little higher for a little longer every day. You can feel the heat through the cold air and the promise of too much heat later, but that is easy to overlook for now.
The birds and the light and the barn call to me insistently: Ewes will soon be lambing at dawn; Best to be Earlier than Early.
And so it is. Here She is — the end of winter — time to embrace the dawn to dusk schedule which comes, luckily, with lightly perfumed air, cool temperatures, and glorious, wondrous, beautiful babies.
March 6th, 2010
A friend once brought me a poster announcement of a play that she saw when in Toronto. The bill read, “Goat Show: An Odyssey Behind Barn Doors.” I thought that a pithy summation of my life; most of the work that I do originates in one way or another in the barn. And this past week, an odyssey behind barn doors is exactly what we had here. Barn Drama dominated our entire week — cold weather, weak triplets with a sick mother, shearing day, and finally a difficult lamb delivery which ended in an unforeseen happier ending for the smallest triplet.
Lynne Vogel was here for the whole thing; I am going to let her tell you about it. You can read more of Lynne’s wit and wisdom here.
Shearing Day at Three Waters Farm
The first time I walked into the fleece barn at the Black Sheep Gathering and stood in a room full of fresh fleeces I felt something come alive within me, an emotion powerful and ancient. This primal recognition lifted me as on a wave, awakening memories that could only be written in my DNA, memories of foggy moors dotted with sheep, guarded by the watchful eye of a border collie. I can smell the heather, feel the moisture bead up on my shetland sweater. My mind wanders to visions of hearth and tea kettle, a bite of scone, or a heavy crust of handmade bread and crumble of sharp cheddar beside a flaggon of brown ale. Even as I write I feel an upswelling of emotion.
Yesterday was shearing day at Three Waters Farm and I had the good fortune to be there. Mary Ann, Stephen and I watched as the shearer prepared his mat and clippers, put on his felt slippers, dipped a bit of Red Man with the reverence of one taking communion. Then he turned and said, “OK ladies, who’s first. With gentle confidence and manly strength, he caught and positioned a ewe and deftly buzzed away a year of buttery wool. Mary Ann took each fleece as though she was handed a newborn lamb, inspected, trimmed and rolled the beautiful thing into a ball, then into a bag with the ewe’s name. We watched Old Lady, Young Lady, Tawny, and the Inscrutable Romney (that’s her in the photo) lose their locks in a sweep of finery. And my heart filled with bittersweet emotion at the joy of our harvest and the sheeps’ loss of their
I arrived here Wednesday night for our yearly dye blowout. I love it here.Good company, good food. It’s never boring. Last year there was the goat that hurt it’s leg. We had to hold it to give it injections and it fainted in our arms every time (hey, I can relate). We watched Young Lady getting ready to lamb, but holding off until we finally went to town. I really wanted to see that lamb being born. We watched for three days. Of course, when we finally had to go to town, out popped a little racoon faced black BFL lamb. This year I watched that yearling render his hoggit fleece, soft, black, as we all spoke of chocolate and the caramel foam that graces a cup of well made espresso.
This year Old Lady had given birth to triplets on the second coldest day of the year and things were nip and tuck. The morning after I arrived found me not in the dye studio, but in the barn, cradling a 5 pound ram lamb in the bib of my overalls. And during one of my short trips to the house, Young Lady managed to give birth to another raccoon faced black lamb. Just like that! I came back to the barn and there was a wet, steaming lamb on the ground. Why?
Over the last three days Mary Ann has managed to save the lives of all three with bi hourly bottle feedings and plenty of attention to the mother. Even as we sat at the computer, Mary Ann perused the screen with a tiny ewe lamb looking on from the bib of her overalls, a bottle sticking out of her pocket like a misplaced udder waving in the breeze. Yesterday was magically warm, 70 degrees, and finally everyone looks great despite rough beginnings.
March 12th, 2009
Happy Birthday! New Lambs!
1st lambs 2009 nursing
Ewe and her lambs
February 25th, 2009