Monday, April 15, 2013

Taking it easy

On Friday, I over-did it.  I lugged one too many loaded laundry baskets and by the time I got to work Friday afternoon, my back hurt so bad it was painful just to walk.  I limped around the rest of the evening and went to bed early with a heating pad instead of meeting some friends.  It was a rude awakening that at 26 weeks pregnant, I cannot do the things I am used to getting done.  I didn't have the energy to get anything done during my first trimester, and now that I am almost finished with the second trimester I have the desire to get work done around the house, but my body does not agree!  Over the past couple days I have been trying to convince myself to take it easy, something I have a hard time with, as I am used to doing things myself.

Saturday morning, my back felt immensely better than the night before.  Joey went to the neighbor's to shear a few more of his sheep and I took a drive through the country to the vet's office to pick up some sheep dewormer they made up for us.  Of course, only in the country can you drive miles down a road before a sign says that a bridge is out and you have to turn around and backtrack completely before you come across another road to get you where you are going.  Despite an extra 15 minute delay I was able to make it to the bakery before all the donuts were gone.  I had to stop there before the vet to make sure I could get one with toasted coconut on top!

After I got home (and I ate my donut on the way), Joey and I drove twenty minutes in the other direction to meet my cousin and his girlfriend for lunch.  Even though they live about twenty-five minutes from us, we are all so busy with work that we don't get together as much as we would like.

Later that evening, we drove back to the city to support our friend Josh's work fundraiser, which was a night of local bands playing to raise money against rape and domestic abuse.  It was a lot of driving in one day, but worth it to see friends that we haven't seen in a while.

After getting home late Saturday night, I was ready to relax on Sunday. Although when Joey went out to the hardware store, I couldn't stop myself from sweeping and vacuuming the floors and I got reprimanded from Joey when he found out I moved the heavy ottoman to vacuum.  Maybe my nesting instincts are kicking in, but I just couldn't stand the dog fur rolling around in the corners.  Also, I am getting really good at staying on top of loading and un-loading the dishwasher.  I can't do anything about the upstairs getting finished so I have to satisfy my nesting instinct with cleaning, and unfortunately my back is starting to limit a lot of that as well.

Luckily, the weather was warm and sunny so I stationed myself in a chair outside with my book and some knitting and spent most of my afternoon watching sheep and enjoying the warm breezes.  Joey starting shearing some of our sheep and some friends stopped by on a walk.  Just as we were about to eat a little lasagna, we were invited to a small cookout.  So we walked to our friend Matt's with Jip on the leash and enjoyed some food on the grill with our group of friends.  When we walked home, I stopped in the convenience store and bought an ice cream sandwich for myself and an ice cream cone for Joey.  As we walked home eating our ice cream, we both agreed that it was lucky that we found such good friends since moving here.  It was a good end to a good weekend, and now on to a rainy week at work!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Productive Spring Weekend

This last weekend my dad and sister came for a quick overnight visit.  The weather was warm and windy Saturday afternoon when they arrived.  My dad recently purchased a used rear-tine rototiller and brought it down with him so we could get our two garden beds tilled.  Joey and my dad made quick work of the first garden bed and then moved on to the other one that seems to grow every year.  My sister and I pulled up the adirondack chairs and watched.  There's nothing like sitting on the lawn on a warm afternoon, with the smell of freshly turned soil in the air, and watching someone else do the hard work. :)

After the gardens were tilled, my dad and sister pulled up the remaining cement slabs from an old sidewalk that we started pulling up last year.  We had minestrone soup and french bread for dinner and then we were back outside.  Joey and Maddy planted some onion sets. When our backs were turned, my dad lit a fire in the bonfire/brush pit that made a loud "whoosh!" when the flames caught and we turned around to see my dad silhouetted against a 6 foot bonfire.  I think he likes to come to my house and do work just so he can throw stuff on the burn pile and then have a massive bonfire.

Sunday morning was warm and we ate our breakfast outside with a view of "sheep tv."  My dad finally got to work inside on the stairs and banister project and Joey got on his tractor to till up the field behind out house so he could plant hay for the sheep.  My sister and I alternated between reading in the sun, planting the garden, and hanging laundry on the line.  We planted potatoes, peas, spinach, and lettuce.  Joey ran over the hay ground with the cultivator twice and then borrowed a friend's four-wheeler and dragged a metal fence panel over the ground to even out the soil for the hay seed.  He then walked and seeded the acre by hand.

After saying goodbye to my dad and sister around 3 pm, we took a short break and then Joey went over to the neighbor's farm to shear some sheep for practice.  We recently bought a set of electric sheep shears and Joey took a class on sheep shearing at a university extension so that we could shear our own sheep.  Because Merino sheep are so wrinkly, they are very difficult to shear and it has been just as difficult to find someone to shear them in our area.  So before jumping into shearing our own sheep, Joey offered to shear some of the neighbor's for practice.  He's got big Dorset sheep, which are like horses compared to our little sheep.

He was exhausted after wrestling with two sheep.  It is hard to imagine sheep shearers who can finish each sheep in 4-5 minutes.  Hopefully, with practice and patience and a steady hand, our sheep will come out unscathed this year.  Last year, the shearer cut them up so badly I had to go sit in the truck because all the cuts and blood were making me sick.  Usually blood does not bother me, but to see my own sheep get injured bothers me.  I am kind of a nervous wreck around shearing anyway since there are so many appendages that could accidentally get cut off (we've heard all the stories) when a sheep squirms or the shearer gets too close with the shears.

Joey's planting season at work started last week so his long hours and Saturday overtime are starting again.  After three years of planting season and harvest season, I am getting used to the stretches of long nights.  I am just thankful that our baby is due in July when the corn is up and growing and things so down a little bit again.

Here's to spring and warmer weather, new growth, and productiveness at home and at work!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Words of Paul Harvey

God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.'

Paul Harvey made a speech in 1978 called 'So God Made a Farmer.'  I heard it for the first time this February during a Super Bowl ad for Dodge Ram Trucks.  At the time, Joey was sitting on the couch, cradling a newborn lamb that wasn't doing well.  When the commercial came on, we both were silent, gripped by the man's voice that seemed to be speaking directly to us and our trials and the uncertainties of lambing season.  The images of trucks and farmers across America did not matter as much as that man's voice.  I immediately wanted to hear it again.

Later that night, I found Paul Harvey's original broadcast on YouTube and I listened to it over and over.  I emailed the link to my sister.  I thought about his words, almost like a sermon that was speaking to me, confirming the reasons Joey and I want to be farmers.  It is a short speech, but it is spoken with such conviction and reassurance about the value of this life, the purpose of those that choose not just to sit in a GPS-driven combine and harvest thousands of acres of corn, but for those farmers that choose to nurture life on a smaller scale.  Those of us who sit in darkened living rooms with weak lambs on our laps, praying we've done enough.  Those of us who plant seeds on our hands and knees and then wait for the rain.  Paul Harvey speaks to us.

And Joey reminded me of this last night when we lost another lamb.  She became so sick over the course of a few hours, there was nothing we could do but wait for her to die and be free from pain.  And the worst part was the realization that I wanted her to die.  In a matter of fifteen minutes I went from hoping there was a solution to knowing there was no hope.  Joey left me in the barn with her so he could run over to the neighbor's and ask for advice.  Alone in the barn with a dying lamb, her mother incessantly baaing, all I could do was stand there, listening to the rustling of the birds that were flying in and out above my head and feel completely helpless.  Joey finally returned and I told him I didn't think there was any solution.  And at that point I just wanted it to be quick.  I felt like I was turning my back on her, I just wanted it over.

Once again, I knew that I couldn't do this alone.  Without Joey by my side, I couldn't handle the part of farming that involves death.  I'm not strong enough, and I'm not sure I want to be.  I know that this is the life I want to be living.  To know the adrenaline rush of joy at new life, to feel a greater power's presence when a new lamb takes its first unsure steps, is greater than anything I ever would have experienced if I had not chosen to follow Joey here.  But to feel my own baby kicking inside of me and know that a mother sheep is about to lose her first lamb weighed heavily on my heart.  

But on days like today, when I watched Grace sniff at the three remaining lambs and not find her own, I feel grief and guilt but I also feel the grace of life.  It is hard, and it goes by quick, and it can be taken away at any moment, so it is important to live a life you love.  God needs those who are willing to take the risk of placing our lives on the backs of sheep that will eventually die, in a field of pumpkins that can be wiped out by squash bugs, in a hen house that can be raided by raccoons, or in cornfields that can be ravaged by drought.

So God made a farmer.

And we dry our eyes and say "maybe next year."  And give thanks for three healthy lambs.

Check out Paul Harvey here: