Rhinebeck

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The Barn, Sunday Morning

Mom and I went to Rhinebeck last weekend to represent Bluefaced Leicester Sheep as best we could.  With my foot broken, this is largely a story of other people doing things for me.  Matt loaded Fannie the BFL lamb at 5:30 for my departure.  Down 91, picked up Mom in Brattleboro, across on 90 and down the Taconic and we were in Rhinebeck.  Again, wonderful helpers helped Mom unload Fannie into her pen, where her new friend Chloe was waiting.  I had reserved Chloe months ago from BlueLand Farm in Maryland.  I had a pleasant chat with Meredith as we signed over the papers for Chloe.

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Saturday saw steady waves of people coming up.  Most just wanted to see some sheep and learn a little, but a few were interested in becoming future shepherds.   By noon, people could barely shuffle by.  There were more people in that barn than live in my town, easily.   A big treat was a visit from the New England Border Collie Rescue folks and the chance to meet a few of the members of a Ravelry group I really love.

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Our fiber sample items.

Sunday was a little calmer, and we were able to have some one-on-one conversations with representatives of yarn shops and a few more members of the public who are considering sheep.  A lot of the questions I was asked concerned selecting breeds when you start your farm.  There are some misconceptions I want to address with that, so I am thinking of writing some posts about breeds.  What questions or thoughts do you have about selecting breeds of sheep?

SOON, as the popular meme goes

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SOON (as the popular meme goes)

Sitting Back is Hard To Do

It has now been almost two weeks since I broke my foot.

Matt has been out flat trying to keep up with the sheep work and the barn-building we need to do.   The issue is that we need to complete the barn this month, and we can’t seem to connect with interested friends on a day when we can get a person-lift and when enough people might be available.  We also recognize that it isn’t our family or friend’s job to be available on demand for barn-construction purposes.  We are working on alternative plans.

A friendly student from Sterling College is helping us move sheep right now.  Her name is Carly, and we are thrilled to have someone with knowledge of our fencing system and a cheerful demeanor come and assist us.   Yesterday, Carly and Matt made a effort to clean up some of the Border Leicesters who have had a touch of the runs.  The sheep weren’t very cooperative, but they made progress and we’ll keep trying.

The foot in question has turned into a rainbow of blues, greens and yellows.   I have a really intense charleyhorse in my calf muscle on that side, and I still can’t have the foot down for any amount of time without swelling and increased discomfort.  I’ve had it checked out with the doctor just in case it’s Deep Vein Thrombosis.  The fact that they haven’t called suggests it’s just a killer cramp.

So that covers the facts of the matter.  The feelings are that I HATE sitting still.  I feel restless and frustrated, and my days are just a blur of sleep and quiet sitting.  It is an issue not easily solved with company or food because I am naturally energetic and I can’t just sit.  Because I am wanting to move so much, it is very challenging to concentrate on the seated activities that I could be doing.  I would usually solve this by going outside and being active and then attempting the seated activity later.  Without that option, I’m kind of sitting here vibrating with energy but unable to address it.

I am also endlessly grateful: to Carly for stepping in at just the right moment and saving Matt’s mental health, to Julie for moving the last of the wood with Matt, to Tam who went grocery shopping for me, to Eric and to Mom for some interim employment, to Prin and Bianca at Sterling for helping us find Carly, to Erin and Mike for their how-to-be-broken supplies and advice.  Feeling grateful is the best way to fight the antsy-ness I feel.

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This is about how close I can get to the sheep these days.

Sheep and a Broken Shepherd

Today is the third day of convalescence for me with this broken 4th metatarsal.

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Ice on foot, cat on Katie…how things are generally looking here most days.
Every day living is a lot more work without a working left foot.  My day starts with just trying to get down the stairs.  My crutches stay downstairs, so I hop around in the bathroom or crabwalk to get around.  The hardest part is getting up from the floor using just one leg.  Matt has to get my clothes for me, and then I bump, bump, bump down the stairs on my bum.
My crutches are right at the bottom of the stairs, so I stagger over to the couch, exhausted from the work.  Matt is kind enough to feed me some breakfast and coffee before he heads out to manage sheep.  Even going to the bathroom is a huge exertion, since my body is putting a lot of energy towards healing.  I’m finding I’m very sleepy throughout the day.
I usually get started on some of the computer work that I am trying to get done while I’m confined to sitting.  Elvis the kitty has gotten a lot out of my need to sit.  She’s been cuddling up quite a bit.  Lucky the parrot doesn’t understand why I can’t come and get her right now.
I miss spending time with the sheep.  I miss getting sheep cuddles and chin-scritches and the smell of their sheepy bodies.  I trust Matt completely, but it’s hard to let go anyway.  Matt has been giving our injured ewe pills in marshmallows.  Apparently, she is an expert at eating only the marshmallow and tossing the pills as much as possible.
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She’s avoiding Matt for the moment…
I tried to cook dinner last night.  I lost my one-legged balance and fell down, so we decided to improvise a little more creatively.  Here I am cooking on a chair.
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The orthopedist says I am off the foot for six weeks, at a minimum.  I never thought I’d say that it’s a best-case-scenario for a ladder accident, but I won’t need surgery and it looks like healing should be fairly straightforward.  The doctor examined the foot for tendon damage and thinks I may be in the clear for that, too.
We are still looking for an intern who’d like to help Matt move the sheep.  We’ll train our helper on rotational grazing and we can pay in meat or wool.  Room and board might be available for the right person, so please let me know if you are interested, because Matt’s already exhausted and we’ve got quite a while yet to go.

Change of Plans

I was all set to write a post about my third Sheep and Wool Festival and how successful it felt.  I made new friends and renewed contact with acquaintances.  I sold fleece with confidence, knowing I’ve finally learned what I need to about the products I offer.  I talked to other vendors about their sales successes and lessons so that I can improve next year.  I had a wonderful time, and I have enough revenue on hand to pay some nagging bills.

But this post isn’t about that.  This post is about how Matt and I were rushing to get one last barn-building task done yesterday before I planned to move the Border Leicester group.  I was on the ladder, and he was driving the tractor.  We were trying to move a big truss that will hold up the cover of our yet-unbuilt barn.  We didn’t notice that a strap was inadvertently hooked on the implement behind the tractor.  As Matt drove forward, the strap pulled the truss, the ladder and me forward. I fell 10 feet, breaking my left foot – Fracture of the 4th Metatarsal, to be precise.
Farming while unable to move is a challenge, for sure.  We are looking for someone who’d like to do sheep chores daily in exchange for the experience or maybe a room in the house.  Unfortunately, I’m necessarily on break from my part-time job, as it requires walking, so I am not in much of a position to offer pay. We could barter some meat or fiber, though.
In other sad news, the ewe whose struggle to walk we’ve been following was finally seen by the vet today.  Diagnosis- busted tendon near the patella.  So we are medicating her with meat-safe painkillers for a week to keep her comfortable and will have to butcher her.  We are really sad.  Just another freak accident in a weird and unaccountable year!