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UnGlamorous

This is the unglamorous time of year.  The two big Sheep and Wool festivals we do are over, and it’s time to get back to routine farmwork,

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All but the most stubborn leaves have blown off the trees and hit the ground.  Frost has ceased the growth of the grass, so all grazing now is merely a victory-lap of somewhat palatable but less-nutritious grass.  Even breeding season has abated – the rams have settled most of the ewes for March lambs, as best I can tell.  Unlike goats, rams woo ewes quietly and subtly.  They grumble gently and nudge ewes while sniffing to determine who might be in heat.

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One major job awaiting me was the ram barn.  We clean the bedded manure pack out of the main barn with a tractor, but because the rams live in a converted horse stall, removing their bedding is a hand-shoveling job.  If we bedded them with shavings, shoveling would be easy, but we mostly bed them with waste hay.   Waste hay plus manure creates a substance that I term “Crap-thatch”.  Crapthatch is challenging to shovel because the long strands of hay do not want to disengage, while the moisture in the pack makes every scoop you can move very heavy.

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Keep on scoopin’!

It took three long days to complete the shoveling job.  We added most of the manure to the manure pile, but we brought one down to the village of Albany to share with some folks who let us rent their land for hay.  Matt deposited the scoop of poop straight on their garden for use next year.

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At least we have a nice stack of hay bales to see us through until spring.  It’s hard not to get anxious about my hay math – it’s expensive to be 20 bales short in April!  That said, I think we are in the clear.

 

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Gratitude

At 7pm Sunday night, I rolled in to our lumpy driveway after a two hour drive home from the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.  The frustrated lambs in the passenger area of the truck murbled slightly as I directed the vehicle down the farm field road and out to pasture.  I turned off the fence, tamped it under the truck doors and released our patient lambs back into pasture.  After two days of petting and poking, they were grateful for a return to green grass and friends.

I am also grateful for a return to green grass and friends, though mine actually happened at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.  Vending at the festival for the fifth year now feels like coming home to friends and family.  I see familiar faces and remember conversations from prior years.  Visitors come to my booth to say that they have driven by my farm recently, or to share the project they made with yarn from my farm.  I am always floored by this – I never take for granted that people might take the time to seek me out to show or tell me that my work has had a little, tiny influence in their lives.

As always, Mom handled the complex knitting questions and helped to bolster the confidence of people who were timid about tackling colorwork projects.  She really has a gift for encouraging and teaching.  I appreciate my mother’s help so much.

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Cutest visitor of the day!
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This beautiful shawl from KnittyMelissa inspired many people to knit one of their own!
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Derby Line Border Leicester Yarn, on display
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Our miniskein array.
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We sold almost all of our roving and much of our BFL yarn.
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Did the ewes miss me while I was gone?  Hard to say…