Decking Our Halls

Even as we are busily preparing for the arrival of winter by composting and mulching over the garden beds and cleaning out chicken coops to place in fresh bedding (and a whole host of other things) we are also preparing for the arrival of winter’s greatest offering: Christmas.

I always liked the ancient idea that celebrating throughout December with feasts and friends – and plenty of gluhwein  (right Celeste???) and mead, I am sure –  was to enjoy the harvest and perishable items before they rotted and to fatten up their bodies and hearts for the long, lean, dark winter to come.  When we lived in upstate New York I could certainly empathize with such an idea.  The good times and goodies we amassed through the holidays got us through the rest of the cold grey winters, which often lasted through April (I clearly remember friends still skiing at that point – wearing shorts!).  Not that I disliked winter – far from it.  I still love the snow and wish we had more of it here in Virginia.

Though we have fairly warm winters here (generally our days remain well above freezing) it is still nice to use this time as an excuse to spend as much time with friends and family as possible (and bake up enough goodies to hopefully last long after).

So, we have put up our tree, hung our stockings, and placed evergreen branches generously throughout.  I even made a wreath for my new garden gate.

Even Alabama looks festive in his new jingle – bell collar:

Soon the cookie baking will begin, the parties will start, the house will be full of the sounds and smells of impending Christmas.

We can’t wait!

 

Orchestral Flash Mob

I had to share this – the local high school orchestra recently staged a flash mob on our open – air mall.

On this, Black Friday, it makes me happy to be reminded how much beauty and goodwill there still is in this world.

 

 

Grateful

 

 

 

Tomorrow we all will hopefully be taking time out from our hectic and busy lives (and eating) to reflect on our many blessings.

I am thankful for so much this year: my family, my friends, my flock.  A roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

Everything else is icing on the cake.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A New Normal

We’re starting to settle into our new routines.  Going out before school in the morning to feed and check on everyone, and spend some calming, quiet time just listening to the sounds of the morning.  It’s the time where I can best observe how the puppies will interact with the flock and where they need improvement.  SO far they are doing well enough that I am letting them out with the flock all day (I’ve only had to do some minor corrections with them – this is the beauty of them having stayed with their father at Susan’s farm for so long, being trained by a seasoned guard dog).

It’s the time where I can watch the sheep and goats and see how they are faring.  It’s also a beautiful alone time just for me to enjoy before the hustle and bustle of homeschool and the activities of a very busy family.

While everyone is working on their reading I have also been busy learning.

This book is my shepherding bible.  It contains so much useful information that no one keeping sheep should be without it. I have spent the last few years learning as much as I can about sheep – and I have been crazy lucky to get so much of that hands – on experience from helping Susan whenever I could.  This book fills in many of the gaps that I feel I still have in my knowledge.  (Though, as my mentor, Susan will still expect to hear my questions from time to time….)

And yes, shut up, I AM still trying to finish my Halloween socks!

In the evenings, the kids usually like to come out and help with feeding and night check.  We make sure the water tanks are full, everyone gets their evening feeding, and that all is well.  It’s not as calm a time as the morning, but it is a lovely way to wrap up the day.

I love how sheep eat hay – head planted firmly in the bale.

I can’t tell you how much I love Milkshakes’ ridiculous beard.

Happy girl.

Jerry kept trying to photobomb everyone from directly above me.  So I turned the camera on him.

And then he decided to go show Orzo who is boss.  Orzo gladly let Jerry have that title, and wandered away to have a drink.

Soon we’ll be hauling in more fence sections to divide the pasture so we’ll have good grass this spring.  We’ll grind up more of the stumps that are still out there and Paul has designs on putting in a centralized hay hut and shelter.  It is shaping up slowly, but I am thrilled you’ll be able to watch the metamorphosis with us.

 

 

Introductions

We’ve had many requests for more formal introductions to our new flock, so here you go!

Those of you who are regular readers of Susan’s blog will recognize everyone.  If you are not a regular reader of Susan’s blog…….why not???

Adelaide the  goat.

Adelaide with her mama, the infamous Milkshakes (yes, we are pretty sure Milkshakes is bred again.)

George, our friend Lisa’s Maremma.

Orzo, our Maremma (left) and George.

Wren.

Piper.

Fairfax.

Amelia.

Aaaaaaand our only boy (castrated though he be):

Alabama!!!

Last but not least, the real character around this place, Jerry:

Everyone is doing very well and adjusting nicely.  The dogs are still trying to learn their manners – they are only puppies after all – but otherwise it seems to have been a smooth transition.

And, rest assured -I know there are many Alabama fans out there – all of the fleeces from these sheep are still going back to Susan.  I have no desire to run any kind of a fiber – based business, and though I looooooooove working with fiber it makes little sense for my to try to send my few fleeces to a mill.
I am just thrilled to share my home with these beautiful animals and enjoy their antics.  I am lucky enough that  my couch,  dining room table and kitchen sink all have large windows that face the pasture, so as long as I am downstairs, I have a magnificent view.

Come have a cup of coffee or tea and knit with me sometime!

 

 

The Best Kind of Homecoming

Y’all.

I can’t even talk right now, I am just so.  Well.

This is what we did today.  With the help of Emily the Shearer Extraordinaire, we packed up our livestock (and dogs) and brought them home.

At long last.

I have spent so long waiting for this. Worrying. Fretting. Wondering.  My anxiety in bringing them home was great – it has been so long since there have been big animals here, and I was nervous over the getting them here portion.

Now they are home, and I feel like that part of me that has been missing is back, too.

There is still a lot of cleanup work left to be done, and it will take some time for everyone to adjust to their new space.  Our guard dog, Orzo, has his brother George along with him to help him adjust (also to help train George for our good friend Lisa, who is very large with baby right now).

The only part missing from this moment is Susan Gibbs, who is In Texas right now being her very busy self.  I could not have gotten through these last few years without her, and I certainly could not have made all of this happen without her help, advice, sense of humor, and well, animals!  She’s always helped me keep my head on straight and brought me back down to earth when I’ve been overwhelmed by worry.  I owe her a lot that I will never be able to pay back.

I am still nervous for everyone to be okay and settle in and I am sure I will be overly protective and OCD about them for a while.

But I am also insanely, ridiculously happy and fulfilled. 

Here’s to the start of something wonderful.

Resisting the Urge

Aside from a brief warm spell over the weekend (it got into the mid 70’s) it has been getting colder and darker, it seems, each day.  A sure sign of the oncoming winter.  We have been wondering what kind of winter we’ll have this year, and you can’t guess accurately based simply on what it’s like right now.  There have been years where it was frosty by the end of September but then barely got under 40 the rest of the winter.  There have been years where it was in the 80’s in October and then snowed through December and January. You just never know.

Either way the colder temps and grey days have us wanting to settle in and stay nicely bundled inside.  But we can’t yet.  There is still far too much work to be done outside.  I have a new garden gate to paint, there is still weed – whacking to be done, there is still brush to be moved and burned, stock tanks for water need to be placed and hay needs to be ordered and delivered.  We can’t settle in yet.

It’s all coming along, though and I think we’ll be happy we put all the effort in.

Speaking of……. I am happy I managed to get a big bag full of garlic cloves planted in the garden this fall:

It doesn’t look like much but this is my garlic row, which has been composted and mulched and is sleeping until spring.

I also planted my potted strawberry plant into a ore permanent home in the garden.

I always kept my strawberries in pots because I was warned they grow and spread and take over everything like mint.

Then I realized…..they’re strawberries.  Would it be a bad thing if they took over the whole front garden?

Not really, no.