Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Remember these things

There is a point in the morning when I open my laptop and begin to write, write about the crazy time last night as a Doe gave birth, or the absolutely insane drama of lambing, and then as I’m thinking about these things it enters my mind that I really don’t have time to write. Writing would be nice I think, but I have so much work to do I really can’t afford myself the luxury of writing. So I slam my computer shut and trod off to get some work done.

Last count we have 54 lambs, give or take 2 or 4. Things seem so chaotic right now. The loud baaa’s of new moms trying to find their lambs and the lambs trying to find their moms in a sea of other lambs and ewes. I can’t keep them straight. At this point I have no idea who belongs to who and I must must must put my faith in the idea that they do. Life feels so delicate so fragile so terrifying and I feel so out of control. The thing that I have come to understand and yet again reminded of is I never had control in the first place. Didn’t need it and still don’t. I’ve evaluated my role and I’m satisfied with the part I’m playing. Everyone has shelter, good pasture, clean hay and water, a charged fence, minerals, love and attention. I’m doing everything I should and everything that I need to do.

Mind over matter is my mantra. The knowledge that the one thing I do have control over is how I react. I want so badly to be the Zen monk unfazed by adversity or strife or hard work or exhaustion or hunger. I want to rise above my mental limitations and find a quite place in the storm in my mind. But the fact remains that I’m so tired I put brown sugar and milk on my poached egg instead of my oat meal. My patients are extremely short and logic is hard to come by. I’ve “hit the bell curve” a friend tells me who I called for some moral support,” it’s all downhill after this, your past the half way point.” These were the reassurances I needed to hear.
I see that lambing and kidding during planting time was a mistake. So I’ve learned. Next year will be different. Better to lamb and kid later when I have interns, okay lesson learned, pretty simple fix. I’ve had harder lessons. So I’ll continue to put my faith in the harmony of nature and my ability to respect it.

I’ll try to be good to myself and eat and write and sleep, which are three things that keep me healthy. I’ll remember joy and that I am capable of having a great deal of it. I’ll try to remember these things.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The lamb storm

Okay, its now officially a lamb storm. Since last check 22 lambs on the ground out of 12 ewes. That's pretty good, we we're not quite at the half way mark 35 ewes left but its possible we will be today. We have 16 goat kids who are all being bottle fed three times a day and now we're milking eight goats twice a day. Things are absolutely insane here. A set of twins was born yesterday morning and they were incredibly small. One extremely small, she was being ignored by mom so without hesitation she's in the house. Whats lambing with out a bottle baby?

Dinky is adorable, when we found her she was alone in the shelter mom and twin far away, shivering and hungry. After a day on a heating pad and small servings of colostrum we have reserved for just this occasion, she really shaped up now she seems pretty strong and healthy just very very dinky.

I also wanted to write a short post about the incredibly kind and hard working folks that showed up last Saturday morning to help a farmer in need. With lambing and kidding and the general day to day of the farm I found myself in a desperate situation, I was hopelessly behind and if I didn’t catch up quick I wouldn’t have anything to sell at the farmers market which is just around the corner. It’s hard to ask for help, even though people will tell me all the time they would love to come out and help sometime if I need it I often see the work probably being way more than they bargained for.

But I was desperate so I reached out to the people who have reached out to me and we pulled together a “crop mob” 12 of us all together spread compost over 2 acres, unwrapped the twine from the pepper and tomato steaks, pulled up the remainder if the dead plants from last fall and got the ground ready for the season to come. It would have taken me two weeks what 12 of us did in 6 hours, and during all that we pulled two lambs from a ewe that needed assistance. Beds are ready for the first planting of green onions, sweet onions, potatoes, spinach, arugula, chard, broccoli rabe, lettuce, kale and so on. The soil looks very easy to work with its fluffy and brown and with that compost and manure I think I’ll have a really good growing season.

The comfort of friends put me at ease, we all worked so hard and I’m sure everyone was feeling it the next morning, I know I was, but this type of soreness is what makes a day worth living it’s the essence of being. My body tells me I have lived, my mind told me I did good, and my heart feels large and full of love. I’m full in all ways. There is something so beautiful to me about working to the point of hunger, or standing in a shower and washing real dirt and sweat off. Of laying down in bed and being completely exhausted, waking up In the morning feeling my body express its limitations, and stretching and meditating so I have the ware withal to do it again, today, tomorrow and the next and the next after that. I love this life and the gratitude I have for the helpers that allow me to continue at it.

So I'm trying to hold it together. doing the best i can. planted 2000 onion plants yesterday. today potatoes, and so on. one thing at a time. No multi tasking, to tired for that and that's how mistakes are made. one foot in front of the other.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The smell of smoke its lingering heavy on the farm, Grass fires have kept their distance from us. Can’t see any fires from here but large plumes of heavy smoke can be seen floating up to the sky from all around us, but thankfully not close enough to be a threat. If I didn’t know better I would be concerned, the sunrise is setting the sky on fire with deep magenta and pink and orange. Filtered by the fog of grass fire smoke, it’s beautiful in an eerie kind of way.

As always things have been busy around here. Five ewes have lambed, two sets of twins within the last eight hours. 7 lambs so far. I have this feeling things are really going to pick up. Some of these girls look ready to pop two days ago. I never got to move them to the upper barn, lambing began so I figured we should just stay put. Kalamazoo (Llama) is very protective over the lambs, when I went out last night he was standing next to a ewe that had just birthed twins and looked like he was standing guard. Ginger my Great Pyrenees stayed put at the north side of the electro net. I’m on pins and needles. These coyotes need not come a visitin’.

This morning I’m practically giddy, a bunch of kind folk are coming out to help in the field. I’m desperately behind and this one day with the help eight people will put things back up on their feet. Sometimes I need help, what can I say. I quit believing I was capable of supernatural powers a few years ago, and learned to ask for help when I need it. As difficult as it is sometimes I manage to do it without feeling like an utter failure. This would be due to the years of phzyko therapy, haha.So were crop mobbing today, I feel the love

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door.
It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside!
-- Rumi

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

lets keep a sense of humor about this okay?

Last week I woke up with a terrible pain in my head. Jaw, sinus, eyes, ears plugged and ringing, neck, shoulder. It was awful. The pain was rich. When it got worse I made an appointment with my chiropractor thinking my atlas was out. I was in so much pain. I was mixing my own painkiller cocktail of 4 Ibuprofen, 3 Tylenol and 2 of some kind of sinus meds. I was up to 4 Advil every 2.5 hours. It was amazing. Sleep was impossible so I would just sit up in bed and stare, holding my face.

This has happened to me once before, last year about this time. Stress I guess, it causes me to clench and grind my teeth and really do a number on my jaw. But last year I thought it was a tooth so I went to the dentist and he couldn't find a thing wrong, so he recommended I see a chiropractor. I did and boy did that do the trick! Amazing. At that point I had been in pain for two weeks. This time I went to the chiropractor and also made an appointment with my dentist. What do you do when pain killers don't work? see someone and cry.

Well it was a good thing I went to the dentist cause this time it was the tooth, cracked and abscessing. Infection was very close to my sinuses and basically the tooth was fucked. SHIT! (I know, the language! but I was not expecting this at all. I like having my teeth! sorry if I've offended anyone one) minutes later the tooth was out. I felt like a truck ran over me. I didn't talk the whole way home and its not because I was by myself. I was stunned.

When I got home it was chore time, the Novocaine was wearing off and my face was sore. Thankfully Linda came home early and milked leaving me to morn my poor molar that I killed.
What happened!? Where is my Sufi/zen/hippy attitude. Why am I trying to work out my stress while I'm sleeping? Its getting harder and harder to meditate or take time for walks. I know I need these things and I know it helps. I've got to get out of the fast lane. There is no magic bullet its called breathing and being centered and keeping things in perspective I mean some people have real problems! But its hard for me to stop sometimes. And yes I actually catch myself holding my breath.

I feel like I'm being chased by a freight train. I've been trying as hard as I can to stay ahead but I feel it nipping at my heals. So here's the deal. I'm getting off. I'm going for a walk I'm going to spend some time today really going through things and prioritizing and cutting what is unnecessary right now. I'm going to breath, to pray to meditate and accept the grace that is available to me. And I if I am able to do this I will consider today a very productive day indeed and one well spent.

Thankfully several friends have offered to dig me out this weekend. Thanks to their help I'll be caught up. Grace and Friends.
Oh we had a boy today, a single, he's healthy and up eating. Uh, we're officially lambing now. 2 down 45 more to go.

Grace, grace, grace.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Critical stage- when to ask for help

The planting has begun, beds are ready in the garden and just need compost added, Seed potatoes are cut and drying and I’m reminded that I am one person and there is only so many hours in a day and that is very frustrating at times. Kidding has taken a break and will resume the 18th of March, and lambing is just around the corner. The scary thing is the farmers market starts in less than 30 days. And somehow I need to have some vegetables in my booth for that first market. Yea I’m freaking out.

If there ever was a time I need help it might be now. So I’ll call on the troops, some friends that have offered to help at times when I need it. I’ve been known to hold off until it’s at the critical stage and then ask for help and shit that might be where I’m at.

So yesterday we combined flocks. We had purchased 27 bred ewes over a month ago and have had them in an isolation pen away from our main flock. Looks like the coast is clear so we combined the 27 with the 19 bred ewes we have plus some young rams. We want to move all of them to the upper barn to lamb and this my friend is at the critical stage because lambing could start at anytime. We couldn’t have done it any sooner and time is just what it is but we feel like lambing in a barn will be safe in many ways mostly because we’re very concerned about coyotes right now. It’s now a matter of getting the jugs set up, water and electricity which is pretty close.

Speaking of Coyotes this has reached critical stage too. Yesterday one was standing just at the top of the garden right out in the open. It stood there for a very long time, long enough for me to get my riffle walk out into the open towards it and shoot. It ran ½ way down the garden foot path and then turned back I saw the tails of two more. I shot again and again. They have been feasting on rouge chickens, I have found two sets of buff feathers. Knowing I have the possibility of 80 lambs on the way I’m a bit touchy. All of the ewes are in a pen with the llama Kalamazoo who has a proven track record but I’m just not willing to take chances.

So I’m trying my hardest to stay calm right now but it’s difficult I have to admit. This is when I question everything including can I do this. Really do this? I have no choice, I’m doing it, but in all honesty I feel pretty scared and pretty desperate. Some of you, you know who you are will be getting an e-mail from me begging for your help next weekend.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I'm grateful

For 11 healthy kids
For a profoundly caring and loving partner
For the most wonderful interesting and lovely friends
For the family whom I lease the 400 acres I live and farm on.
For the guard dogs and lamas that keep the coyotes at a distance
For the sweet goats that have me convinced that they like me too
For the sheep and lambs who nourish and help to support the farm in so many ways
For sandy loam, mushroom compost, and animal manure.
For seeds that sprout and chickens that lay
For a warm house, a hot shower and a comfortable bed
For Lance who grows my alfalfa hay and Don who grows my prairie hay
For Stillwater milling
For The OSU Seretean Wellness center who has employed me now for 6.75 years.
For Dr Brooks (my Chiropractor)
For the Cherry Street Farmers Market and the board of directors who work so hard to make it the best market they can.
For the farmers and producers who keep the customers coming back
For our CSA members who have given us the gift of trust and confidence
For the guy who grates (sp?) our little dead end dirt road (thank you!)

I'm grateful for so many things

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Feeling myself again

Now that I have a refrigerator full of fresh goat milk and am getting back into the routine of bottle feeding babies and milking the goats I’m feeling right. These girls are producing, let me tell you. Even with 11 kids bottle feeding three times a day there is still tons of milk left over. Unfortunately it still has the flavor of colostrum so it’s not quite up to cheese or a big glass quite yet. It takes about a two full weeks for the colostrum to run through their system, I will be feeding four gallons to the chickens this morning. Each goat is producing about a gallon a piece. We’re only milking 6 right now so we are just under 6 gallons a day. The next set will kid mid March, and then again early April.

The kids are just beautiful this year. We used a buck that a friend gave us and in spite of him being quite a handful he truly helped to produce some of the most beautiful and largest kids we have ever had. So far we have 4 girls I plan on keeping but soon I’ll need to find homes for the boys. Sooner rather than later cause I tend to get attached.

If feels good to milk the girls again. It’s the time I get with them to really establish and affirm our relationship. For me milking has always been an affirmation of my commitment to providing my goats with the best life possible. I treat them with respect and I understand their personalities and I feel like in spite of it being against their better judgment they treat me with respect right back. I’m really grateful for them.

This is the time of year things get really busy. I’m racing against the clock trying to get the garden ready. Rain is forecasted for Friday so its on! I’ve been really trying hard to stay focused and organized and that’s been a challenge too but trying to keep things in perspective.