violethillfarm


You can’t make this stuff up…
September 25, 2015, 1:26 am
Filed under: farming | Tags: , , , , ,

My “weird sh*t that happens” moments are things that happen daily here. In my “old life” they were mild and few and far between.

Yesterday, I was salting a ram’s ballsac. Yeah, you read that right. If you are going to eat meat, then be as nose to tail as possible, right? So nutsac salting it was. Weird.

Today, my moment was at 12:30am, yesterday barely over…

Woken up by a chef calling (hi Sandy! ;). Hear a crash and the sheep running crazy outside the window.
The dogs barking, I’m thinking predator… oh God, no.
Open the window and listen.
Splash, splash, baaa, splash. 
Dammit.
Throw on clothes, grab a flashlight and run to the back paddock.
Yeahhhh. DAMMIT!
A sheep had fallen into the gray water well.
She’s floating, thankfully, because of all the wool.
Any idea how much wet wool weighs?
I do now.
I flatten myself on my belly, lay the flashlight on the ground and adjust my eyes to the darkness of the hole.
I see her face, she panics a little.
I talk softly, clucking and making kissy noises.
“Mama, come on mama”.
I got hold of her ear with my fingertips and float her toward me.
I grab her chin and tug a little.
She was heavy.
It smelled. Horrible.
My arms were stretched full length and I barely had her.

I tugged hard, let go with one hand and grabbed as much wool as I could in my clutched hand. My fingers hurt instantly. The weight, the burdock, the wool itself made me question my decision.
But I was commited. She stopped struggling. She was trying to help. At least that’s what I was telling myself so I’d continue to dig deep.

I let go with the other hand and grabbed more wool. I grunted and primally screamed into the dark using every bit of strength I could muster and trying not to laugh at the thought of what my neighbors might be thinking of the noise I was making in the pitch dark.

The rest of the flock sat watching, eating grass like this was a dinner show.

I took a deep breath and pulled…
Sheep, me, twisting, pulling.
Up on my knees, grab her front leg, then another.
Then we were stuck.
I was on my knees, I had two sheep legs in my two hands, in the dark.
And she was heavy.
So ridiculously heavy.

I somehow struggled to my feet, my muscles screamed, my fingertips burning, I twisted her halfway around and pulled. “RAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!” Like the final noise made just before birth. I’ve heard that sound from myself five times over and it surprised me to hear it once again.

But she was out.

I fell back on my butt, sheep legs still in my hands and I looked at her. She laid there for a moment, I let go, she stood then ran off, dripping and bahhh-ing her way across the field to the rest of the herd. And started eating grass.

What can you do but laugh?

Shower. You can shower.

So I did. And that was that.

So. So. Weird.

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Settling
March 24, 2012, 12:19 am
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Sometimes settling is our worst fear; settling for a dull life or an unfulfilling relationship, wondering if the grass is truly greener. Sometimes settling conjures up feelings of contentment, the warm and fuzzies; settling in, settling down.

We, Paul and I, even the animals, are settling in.  We are merging our sugar bowls and linens, the sheep are restless for the grass growing outside their door, the pigs are constructing their new homes wallow, the chickens lend us the neverending Easter egg hunt amongst all the bales of hay and the 17 ducks parade the grounds, clamoring and staking their claim to the new ‘cool’ spots.  And Trevor wakes

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up from every night and every morning and smiles his giant, toothless grin that stretches to his eyes when he looks from me to Paul and back again.

Are we complete? Nope. Not yet. But that, too, will come.  Have we settled? Not one bit. We have home and happiness.  We are settling in and settling down. 



Lambapalooza 2012
March 1, 2012, 1:21 am
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Lambapalooza 2012
March 1, 2012, 1:20 am
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I Love Ewe(s)…

We are nearing the end of Valentine’s Day 2012…  it is the day of lambs.  Yesterday there was a singleton born. Today? Three sets of twins and, just a few moments ago, another singleton that Paul walked in the barn to the birthing of.  Yesterday we had 7 babies, today we are doubled.  Why? Because Paul wasn’t around the farm and, as I’ve mentioned, they’re sheep – that’s how they roll. 

I imagined them yesterday in one of those Youtube videos “sh*t sheep say when the farmer’s not around”.  Like a video version of a Farside cartoon, the fat bellied ewes sitting and knitting sweaters from yarn coming from their own backs…  “When he opens the gate to feed us, all run past him and scatter.”  “Even if there is lush, green grass, DON’T STOP – go straight for the screaming neighbor’s lawn.”  “The next ram to run straight into the fencing and get stuck for no reason whatsoever is guaranteed 7 eternally virginal ewes in the afterlife.”  “Ladies, it’s raining ice, the temperature is dropping and the farmer is gone… Quick! Stand over a puddle and PUSH!!”  Seriously. WTH.

But I love them.  And I talk to them at feeding time and sing to them when I’m collecting displaced chicken eggs and we commiserate when they are fat and waddling or when their udders are huge and hanging low. 

And I like to sit quietly in their pen and laugh loudly at their many voices – the low and gurgly, the high and machine-gunned, the one ewe that sounds like she’s constantly drowning and the one with the giant BLAAAAAAAT, no baaah-ing for her. She opens up her mouth, sticks out her black tongue and BLAAAAAATS!  And it cracks me up. Every. Single. Time.  So I let the stupid slide and I just enjoy the hilarity they bring to my life. 

Lamb Count 2012:  14! 



Who needs sleep, we have babies!
February 12, 2012, 6:23 pm
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Paul spent the day at market yesterday while I scrounged up every laughable silly face and noise I could muster for Little too far from where we/I wanted to be.  We talked Paul’s whole drive home as we usually do, Little putting in his own two cents to daddy through the headphones that, I’m pretty sure, he uses as a security blanket.

I’m pretty sure I fell asleep more than once but, like the lovesick teenagers we resemble, we both find comfort in the sounds of the other – awake or asleep – so the cell line stayed open.  I heard him talk of new lambs at some point – “I hear a new one”.  Yes, he’s like the lamb whisperer.  That big, intimidating looking guy with the long hair, dark glasses and funny accent?  Yeah, him.  He’s the guy who can recognize a new voice amongst the 75 or so baaaa-ing away when he walks in the door.  He is the guy who can sit bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night and know there is a ewe giving birth.  And if you’ve never seen a ewe give birth, they make no sound.  Their instincts know sound brings predators, so they are quiet. 

He checked on new baby, I heard bits in my sleepiness.  “Doing ok. .. Where’s mama?… Twins!”  I think I may have responded somehow but almost 5 months of playing the role of Bessie to Little has left me partially delirious.  Then I slept.  As much as a mother to a hungry, huge almost 5 month old does. 

A late morning text from Paul confirms my questionable recount of his arrival home – a singleton and a set of twins. And, in true sheep fashion, on the worst night the winter has offered thus far. He was up til 4:30, setting up new ‘jugs’ for the mamas and babies, heat lamps and pads, feeders and hayracks, make sure everyone is nursing and up on their feet.  And he, I’m sure, fell into bed – hopefully he got his boots off. 

And, as I check in on our sleepy human, he has put his boots back on (I hope) and headed back out to check on our new little wool babies.  Considering the cold, and the snow, he may be busy today.  Sleep will have to wait.

Lamb Count 2012: 6



Growth…
February 8, 2012, 9:37 pm
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Lamb #3 was born on Sunday.  A strong, healthy boy who was jumping and playing by afternoon.  Two males, one female so far. They are enjoying their new digs, a pleasantly mild winter and the fresh from the yard hay that our friendly neighbor baled, but you can almost guarantee the rest of the swollen bellied mamas will attempt to hold out for the coldest, worst weathered, middle of the night winter still has left to offer.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t be sheep.

Growth.  We’ve had lots of growth in the two years since we’ve met…  personally, in our family and ourselves, and business.  We can say we raise what we do in the best way we can, as kind as we can and that we would never hesitate to feed our own children.  We are a new generation of farmers, farming by choice.  Farming because we enjoy it, because it is important to us – to feed and be fed in so many ways.

We are ready for growth, again.  When I finally am able to make the farm home – we are ready.  Paul’s myriad of wild and, often, genius ideas will be sifted through and my nuts and bolts, number cruncher self will bring fruition to my Frankenfarmer’s ideas and there will be new.  New food, new methods – we’ll listen and watch and do and grow.