One of my favorite sounds in the world is the hum of sheep shears.
It’s a murmur and a buzz as the shearers clip wool, a natural, warm fabric, from a sheep’s body. The blade and comb whir back and forth. There’s a clap at the end as the shearer sets the clippers down on the wooden shearing platform and releases a brilliant sheep, which scrambles through a small door to its friends in the holding pen.
I dropped a mic a couple of blog posts ago when I announced at the end that I was marrying the guy in the picture. Haven’t said much since then. So here is our story, as written for our wedding website:
Jeff and Elise met for the first time in July 2018 at a local Purdue Extension meeting on agritourism. Elise was part of the speaker panel and talked about New Zealand. Jeff was looking for ideas for the Christmas tree farm on which he was working. The two bumped into each other a couple of weeks later at the county fair. Then, in October, before the melodrama at the local theater began, they ran into each other at the concession stand. He was buying a drink and attempted to strike up a conversation about her tour guiding experiences during the Covered Bridge Festival, but she had to tell the workers that her mother had spilled her Coke and it had surged all the way from the back row to the front row and ice was everywhere and could someone please bring a mop?
A few days before Thanksgiving, Elise’s brother asked her if she wanted to use his extra artificial Christmas tree. However, she had resolved to always have a real Christmas tree and declined the offer. After Thanksgiving, she drove to the local Christmas tree farm to scout out the possibilities.
She picked out the perfect Charlie Brown tree, a tiny Eastern White Pine. Jeff handed her the saw to cut it down, and she proudly carried it away.
When she loaded it in her dad’s diesel F-350 truck, she heard someone yell, “Is that truck big enough for that tree?”
She turned around to see Jeff with an amused smile. He had just insulted her tree.
But he was carrying a Christmas tree on his shoulder.
I’m in the barn on the farm where I grew up, holding the first lamb to be born there in seven years. She’s one of the realizations of a tightly held dream: to be a farmer and shepherd when I grow up.
Ten minutes after this picture was taken, I nearly fell, my knees giving out, suddenly becoming desperate to lie down.
That was nothing new, though. That sort of thing had been happening for several weeks because of weird health issues. Those challenges have continued, but we’re getting closer to an answer. Continue reading “This Is Me”
It’s Christmas Eve. Tonight, our local community will gather at the town’s church, surrounded by candles, a hundred pricks in the darkness of the days near Winter Solstice. We will sing and contemplate and eat together before each family spends the next day in colorful celebration.
On Saturday, Jeff and I took care of the sheep, trimming hooves and giving shots, and then stopped by the church to deliver six straw bales that would support the nativity scene by the soaring concrete steps leading into the auditorium. He hauled them from the truck bed to the sign posts, and I kicked them into place with my steel-toed Red Wings. Continue reading “Christmas in the Village”
I could scarcely contain myself the morning after the winter storm, raising the blinds to reveal snow’s glow under the trees and switching on the Christmas lights (only half of which worked).
Staying inside was impossible. I pulled on my Carhartt jacket and thin rubber boots, and jumped into three or four inches of powder.
No one heard me, not even the doe tiptoeing through the cornfield, picking her way through the stalks. She reached the road and drew up her head, crossing in the slow, meticulous way she had used to get there. Continue reading “Solitude”