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Waiting for Spring

It’s almost May.

The grass has been taking its time in growing, but the lambs haven’t.  It pains me to see my tired ewes nursing their enormous lambs.

We began vaccinating our flock for Clostridium C+D plus Tetanus last week.  Matt and I hauled in the scale he built us and weighed each lamb.   Our lambs ranged from 60 lbs to 20, with the smaller lambs being younger.  In order to have some data that’s more useful than strict weight, I made a spreadsheet comparing days in age to current weight.  I admit I omitted birthweight.  Aside from animals born clearly outside the norm (huge or tiny), birthweight hasn’t been that helpful as a general measurement for me.  In any case, the sheep ranged from .49 to .99 in growth rate.  Meaning some weigh a pound for every day of age, others a half-pound.  Even my non-standard metric shows us a little bit about who is thriving and who isn’t.  We’ve begun efforts to supplement all of the lambs on the low end.

To double down on my New Sheep Math, I’ve also gone through and added up the total lamb-growth for all moms.   It seems like a helpful way to look at which ewes are working the hardest, feeding up to 1.81 lbs of lamb growth/day in a way that controls for lamb age (vs total weight, which would make the oldest lambs look better than the youngest).  Have I mentioned how much I love a good spreadsheet?

While we wait for pasture, I am lucky enough to have my 2019 yarn back from the mill.  This year, we asked to have it unskeined, on cones.  So I have massive cones of yarn to skein, wash, dye and organize.  It’s good, clean fun while I agonize about our hay supply and the ewes yearning for fresh grass.  By the by, I need to shout out my friend Laini Fondiller, who connected me with a neighbor of hers with some extra hay.  It’s just enough to stave off starvation and rioting in the barn, so I am grateful for a good farmer friend.

And of course, for those wondering, Dad is going really well.  This week is a pile of appointments, but he is looking and feeling stronger.

Patient Bethlehem wishes I’d just let her go outside
Is it just me, or does Chloe look like a victim of cabin fever?
This cute fella wants to romp and play- grow faster, grass!
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Some Home Stuff

Four weeks ago, Dad went to the doctor with a persistent headache focused in his right temple.  Doctors treated him for a sinus infection, but the pain worsened. 

Three weeks ago, Mom called me in order to say that “C” word you never want to hear.  Dad walked around the grocery store, but then rested all afternoon.

Two weeks ago, Dad was feeling much, much worse.  Exams at their local clinic were moving slowly, and we still didn’t know what kind of cancer.  Dad was really suffering from pain in his head and ribs.  I made Dad a quilt in a week – pieced the top, basted and hand-quilted to give him some warmth.

A week ago, Dad said that he didn’t want to go downstairs because he felt too weak to come back upstairs.

Last Thursday, after being told that the clinic couldn’t see Dad for another week, my sister and brother-in-law drove up from Boston to help Mom pack up Dad and his belongings.   They drove him to the ER at Brigham and Women’s where the Dana Farber Cancer Center quickly evaluated and admitted him.   Dad was in really tough shape and we were all fearing the worst given that just a few weeks prior, he was active and mostly well.

It turns out that Dad was acutely ill with excess calcium in his blood from the cancer-damage in his bones. The calcium put him at risk of kidney failure.  Luckily, his condition was caught in time and the issue was reversed.   This hospital has the capacity and facilities to finally narrow down what kind of cancer he has and begin treatment.  They are currently thinking it’s a somewhat-atypical form of aggressive lymphoma that can be treated.

We didn’t really celebrate Easter this year, given the circumstances, but I am full of awe that our medical science can effectively resurrect someone who is so seriously ill.  We have all been through a terrifying experience, Dad especially!   

I am very grateful to Matt for holding down the farm for three days while I have been away, to my friends who came and helped him out, and to my farming associates who forgave my lapses in emailing and information management.  There’s a long way to go and Dad isn’t out of the woods, but we have some hope.   For that, I am very grateful.