This Is Me

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This is me.

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”

Sheep for My Birthday

Sheep for My Birthday

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Analyzing a ram.

Over the weekend, Jeff (the significant otter) and I hooked my great-aunt’s horse trailer to the truck and drove halfway across the state to visit a farm full of Shetland sheep. The farmer was reducing her flock numbers and let us take a look at the ewes and rams for sale.

The sheep were closed into the basement of an old, wooden barn for the morning, and as we entered, they watched warily, fleeing when we stepped into their flight zones. Colors of all sorts decorated their wool: black, brown, spotted, white.

One of the white sheep was nicknamed Cloud.

Her registered name was New Zealand. Continue reading “Sheep for My Birthday”

The Chicken Tractor Completed

The Chicken Tractor Completed

Previously, I’ve discussed reasons for building a chicken tractor and putting the pieces of our own chicken tractor together. Now, here is the grand finale!

After more than a month of building, readjusting, cutting boards to fit wonky angles that resulted from decisions at the very beginning of the project, and thinking about what would make birds happy, the chicken tractor was finished.

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It has sliding doors, FlexSeal on the plywood roof for waterproofing, and a sheet of vinyl panel for the floor of the coop and nesting box. I don’t need to duck my head when I walk through the door, and the feed, water, and ramp move along with the chicken tractor on moving day without any extra effort.

It looks just like I envisioned it would before the project began. Continue reading “The Chicken Tractor Completed”

Reasons to Build a Chicken Tractor

Reasons to Build a Chicken Tractor

When thinking about tractors, one usually pictures a metal rectangle and seat on wheels painted green or red or blue. This tractor provides several hundred horsepower units for working out in agricultural fields.

I recently learned about another type of tractor that uses animals rather than metal implements to improve the ground. I was intrigued to hear about its benefits for rotational grazing systems. Continue reading “Reasons to Build a Chicken Tractor”

First Day of Haying

First Day of Haying

We finally put hay up for the first time this year earlier this week. Rain had delayed the operation for a while. Most were round bales. Two rows of alfalfa became square bales for the horses.

The next morning, early, rain came. Storm clouds stayed for a while.

Sunrise brought rays and shadows of bales, and I stood outside the barn gaping at the sight for a few minutes before sense finally said, “Go get your camera!”

Standing on the bales, I played with the light, snapping before the gold changed to dull yellow with no shadows. Sometimes, the colors changed so quickly I could see the progression in photos shot just seconds apart. Continue reading “First Day of Haying”

Kittens

Kittens

We discovered new kittens up in the hay loft a little more than a month ago.

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We like cuddling…

For a while, they lived in a tunnel in the hay bales, eyes barely open, piled one on top of the other, mewing quietly.

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Hello, kittens!

Continue reading “Kittens”

Bottle Calf

Bottle Calf

It was a long winter. The temperatures were up and down, one day in the negative 30s, the next day in the positive 40s. Spring has been cold and wet, and there has been uncertainty as to whether it’s even here at all. Beasts and humans alike are ready for warmer weather.

Every so often, the sun does peek around a cloud and warms the face. While waiting for that moment, the heart is warmed by new calves galloping through the pasture, playing chase as a kindergarten class. Continue reading “Bottle Calf”

Stars to a Golden Hour

Stars to a Golden Hour

The stars surprised me when I swung open the back door and stood in its frame Monday morning. They were there. They hadn’t been there Sunday night, hidden by clouds during my five-minute walk through the crisp, clear air in an attempt to shake the stir-crazy of being snowed in for two days. But they were here now, some drowned out by the security light. I walked in the shadow of the smokehouse to greet them properly, the Big Dipper most prominent.

“I didn’t see the Big Dipper for a year — more than a year,” I said to no one in particular. “Isn’t that crazy?”

Fog accompanied my drive to the farm. I slammed the truck door shut to reveal stars unveiled by human light, a planet in the east the brightest of all. Red tinges peeked over the trees, the rest of the world silver and silhouettes, silver snow blending into silver mist blending into dark tree tops. Fence posts stretched and disappeared into the fog. Horses trotted through the snow toward me, gentle thuds of hooves the size of dinner plates against the powder. Ice had created a wild hairstyle for them, bangs frozen arced up, stray strands rigid in every direction. Noses pointed toward me. Continue reading “Stars to a Golden Hour”