Monthly Archives: June 2012
Sheep are unique creatures that require patience, a quiet disposition, and awillingness to approach very slowly to form any kind of relationship. Up until now no sheep has been willing to form a close bond with me until now. Many might ask, “why is friendship with livestock important to you? ” I recognize that forging a relationship with sheep, goats or any livestock is not practical, but it is meaningful to me. It adds treasure to my day. Anytime an animal lets me into their confidence, I feel it is a privilege. Also it improves our working relationship. Now most of the sheep know me as the lunch lady and they do come when I call them. And a few will eat out of my hand and one lets me scratch her head. But until now, that was as far as it would go. Enter Mr B. Walnut, or Wally as he insists on being called. Soon after birth, he walked over to me and started talking to me and rubbing against me. At first I thought he was confused. But he knew his mom and loved her passionately. But as I would visit the pair daily, Wally would still come over to me for a little scratch
on the neck and some conversation. No other lamb has ever trusted me like this.
As many know, this story took a sad turn as Wally’s beautiful mama, Missy, became sick and left this planet. Wally was with her to the end and cried endlessly when we buried her under the shade tree where she died. I promised her I would take good care of her boy and I think she knew this. That unique trust we built would be needed now as I was now Wally’s foster mom.
So 3 times a day, I head out to the pasture and call for Wally and he comes running to me as fast as he can. It took a few times to get used to the bottle, but now he is a champ at it. After he finishes, he still gets his neck scratches, then pauses, looks at me, looks at the the other sheep in the distance, then runs back to the flock because he is a sheep after all.
The relationship does have its low points in that Wally will whine for a bottle at other than the scheduled feeding times. He might see me in the distance, come running to the fence in hopes I might be packing a bottle. I would think this will end with weening. And I do harbor misgivings what the relationship might be like when he is a full grown ram. All that remains to be seen. In the meantime, I am enjoying he privilege of having a lamb for a friend and foster child.
..at least I do. Have you ever been in a dream and all of a sudden you realize you are conscious of it and can actually make decisions as to what will happen in those dreams? Those are usually the ones where you can fly and the colors you see are more vivid than in real life. Or are they?
One of the advantages of having a good part of your day outside is breathing the fresh air. And on a farm-many tasks can be very repetitive. They take on a meditative quality. At those moments, I can sort of step out of my head, much like a dream and observe what is around me. It starts with sound, a bird’s song with a melody made up as it goes along, bees humming as they perform their occupation of gathering nectar, the sheep bellowing out a greeting or a “where the heck are ya?” in terms of a ewe to her lambs, maybe a rooster’s yodel. And yes there are machines too, like a neighbor’s tractor in the distance or an occasional car. I do take pleasure in deciphering the poetry and music that is happening around me.
Then the scents take on a featured role, musky wet damp earth, a sweat note of some blossom, wheat straw-like scent grass just mowed-all like a perfume that changes and evolves.
And as my eyes wander, they fall on tiny details, seemingly random patterns of pebbles under my feet in neutral shades of wheat, slate, tan bark, and Spanish tile; droplets of rain clinging to the tips of leaves in all shades of green and not so green; collections of petals that form a flower, a painting of color that defy any crayon box; fruit like precious jewels hidden beneath great fans of enormous leaves with pops of yellow-squash with matching flowers!
You might ask, “What magical task are you undertaking?” My meditation might be considered weeding to others. Our lives can be of our own design, like the dreams we can control.
When facing a day with many tasks, sometimes I just pour a cup of coffee and head out to the kitchen garden. This morning is especially nice in that we finally had rain yesterday and last evening and it does my heart good to see a happy garden. So what do I have to do today? Well the list is ambitious. I will start with completing a yarn shop order, then continue with working on color cards and fiber packs for TNNA, ending with shopping for clothes for said TNNA -as a sale is ending today. And of course the daily chores of feeding all our animal residents including Wally Lamb who needs a bottle. So off I go….
Well, pull up a seat and hang out under out sprawling walnut trees overlooking the fishing pond beyond the sheep pasture. After a days work, I often relax here to gather my thoughts-do a piece of knitting or reading and enjoy a sip herbed iced tea or maybe some wine. In the evening during this late Spring, I can watch the lambs during this designated play time. They often run in sort of a lamb scrum-a tight bunch that moves as one being. Quite amusing as I count these little events as gifts from living here.
Sweet Tree Hill Farm is my work and my home. I live here in Central Virginia with my husband and 2 of my sons-who are teenagers. And we raise cashmere goats, angora rabbits and registered Shetland sheep. We are lucky to have growing here some lovely 100 year old pecan and walnut trees along with keifer pear trees and some grapes. In the footprint of a formal English garden, I have taken on a project of creating a Kitchen Garden. So among the foundation plants of box woods, a couple of crepe myrtles and some lillies, I have planted vegetables, herbs, melons and some cutting flowers. I will be sharing some ideas you might be able to use along with recipes for our garden bounty.
I have built barn shaped dye studio where I dye yarn for my wholesale business, Scarlet Fleece. I house there not only my dye equipment, but a drying area, a skeining, labeling and shipping area, and storage of yarn and dye. And we also are the USA distributor of Landscapes dye by Kraft Kolour of Australia so we store those there too.
We have created a nice life here. It can be hard, challenging and a bit scary as we try to make a living doing what we love. It is not a life for everyone, and we do most of the work ourselves-not a lot of hired hands here. But the satisfaction is enormous and I can’t imagine living any other way. So join me in future posts as I share wool farm life. It is crazy fun and I look forward to your future visits. We’ll save some tea for you.
Herbed Iced Tea
Into a kettle of just boiled water-drop 4 green tea bags and from the garden, bunch together spearmint sprigs along with lemon thyme. Drop that in the water and cover allowing to steep about 25 minutes. Remove herbs and tea bags and pour tea into a pitcher fulled with iced cubes. Put into the fridge until your guests arrive. Enjoy under the shade tree on a hot day.