Thursday, December 14, 2017

Winter Tranquility

(I am resuming my blog; the urge surprised me. I will make it simple--maybe I can keep up with it.)
 Winter, for me, is a time for reflection. Each morning as I step outside to feed the stock, this lovely spot that we call home fills me with peace and purpose.

First I look up at the sky and the clouds. Sometimes the air is so clear and the sky is such a deep blue that I know I am seeing into the void beyond our planet. 

I feel the air on my face as I walk to the barn. Sunny or gray, cold or mild, damp or dry, windy or calm? Is a storm a day or two away, or are we destined for a few mild, sunny days?

Are the chickens content in their yard--looking for scratch and food from me, or are they distracted by predators or the cacaphony of startled guineas, always on the lookout for danger. Are the sheep watching and waiting and baa-ing loudly for breakfast?

And the dogs, those special guardians that live with and protect the sheep, are they waiting to greet me as I come up the drive toward the barn?

Today, this reflection is about how lucky I am to be here and part of the life of this little farm.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

After a long silence . . . I'm thankful.

2015 has been a pretty good year. I am thankful for all the friends and family that have made my life so full, for my sons, Alex and Neil, and the women they share their lives with, Kristin and Heather. I am thankful for the newest member of our family, Will. He's Neil and Heather's son (my grandson!), a big boy, too cute for words! Will is the happiest child I've seen! I am also thankful for my loving and kind husband, patient when I'm crabby and always willing to help!

I am thankful for our wonderful Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs): Andre takes his job very seriously; he is a little stiff these days but still out there mixing it up with the bad element beyond the fences. Emma, our sweet, shy girl,  takes good care of her ewes and lambs; and Seamus, who came to the farm last spring, is our LGD ambassador to the human world and Emma's companion and playmate. I cannot thank Dianne Kratville and Great Pyrenees Rescue of Eastern Iowa enough for the work she does with LGDs and for the wonderful dogs we have working on our farm.

We are still raising broilers and turkeys, but not as many this year as in the past. We added a new item: Cornish game hens. We will continue to feature them in small batches in the spring and the fall. The vegetable plot meets our needs these days, but we no longer grow marketable quantities. We do have a few fruit trees, but again, not really marketable quality or quantity. Most of my time and energy goes to the animals.

The sheep are doing well: we have 15 ewes in our little flock of Leicester Longwools, and I'm hoping for a good lamb crop in the spring. My wool business is going well--I'm using Stonehedge Fiber Mill in Michigan; they produce lovely yarn, roving, and top from my Leicesters. Currently I sell from home, at the Downtown Champaign Farmers' Market sponsored by The Land Connection, and the CU Spinners and Weavers Guild Annual Show and Sale in November. Raw fleeces are also available at shearing time in March.