The last several weeks have been surreal. For us, and for many of our farming friends around the world (those that we know “in real life” and those that we know through social media), the uncertainty of recent events is coupled with the knowledge that our farms must continue. Beasties need cared for, projects need to be completed, equipment needs maintained, plans for the growing season need to be made. Lots of needs to take care of! And because we have the blessing and good fortune to both work from home, things happening off the farm take on an almost dream-like quality. My family and friends are rightfully concerned about their employment and the needs of their children/elders. We are all concerned about the local/state/national/global consequences. And none of us know how long this will last.
I made a grocery run the other day. Although people were feeling the emotional effects of what is happening, most everyone was polite and patient as we waited at the deli and meat counters, looked over the canned and frozen goods, and waited again to check out. The local IGA grocery only has three check-out lanes, and carts were at least five deep at each lane. The young lady running the lane I was in kept apologizing for the delay, so I told her she was going a fantastic job, and none of this was her fault. We still have to “stock up on compassion,” as one Facebook meme said.
Life on the farm continues, and some significant (to me, at least!) things have happened recently. One of those things is we emptied the barn of about ¾ of the hay bales that we had. That may seem puzzling, but this is hay that was baled in the summer of 2018 when we still had the cattle, who eat a LOT of hay. And waste a lot of hay, as well. We sold the cattle spring of 2019, and still had a barn full of round bales. Sheep and goats definitely don’t eat the quantity of hay that cattle do, and as this has been a milder winter than usual, we knew that there would be way too much hay. Put an ad up on Craigslist, run the numbers to know how much to keep on hand (to get us through to the summer 2020 hay harvest), and “adios” to the rest. It’s shocking at how big the barn looks now!
After several starts, stops, and restarts, we’ve decided that the hair sheep just don’t fit into our plan for the farm, so we will be focusing on the Shetland wool sheep for my fiber business, and the Kinder goats for meat and milk. One post on a Facebook group for sheep, and a lovely family from northeast Ohio drove down to pick up all of my hair sheep ewes and lambs for their flock. Can I just say how much less stressful it is to load sheep than it is to load cattle? I don’t even think my blood pressure elevated! Now I will be focusing even more on raising quality Shetland sheep with good fleeces for spinning into yarn. If you’re interested in fiber, check out my site studioatinnisfree.com It’s a bit sparse (except for yarn) right now, but will be bursting at the seams with fleeces after shearing happens in April!
The crocus are blooming, so spring is still on the way, even though it snowed about 3” a few days ago (it didn’t last long on the ground, and made it a muddy mess). Shetland lambs will be arriving at any time, and the grass is greening up. Some starlings are building a nest in the maple tree outside my window, and it has been exhausting to watch them fly back and forth to get bits of hay, sticks, chicken feathers, and other nest-building materials. These birds are hard-working! I will be starting a whole pile of seeds (lots of things that can be pickled or fermented!) this week and I’m excited to be gardening again. I’m sure that tune will change in June when the temperatures are rising and the weeds are high, but there is joy in watching tiny seeds sprout. Not quite as exciting as lambs, but very close!
The temperatures are slowly rising, and the natural world is waking up – I hope you are able to join me outside and enjoy early spring!