A Speech and Some Sheep: Sharing Joy from the Indiana State Fair

A Speech and Some Sheep: Sharing Joy from the Indiana State Fair

“State officers!”

Our heels spin in the dust of the infield. The grounded hot-air balloons to the right form dark silhouettes against the silver sky. I squint in their direction, looking for the source of the voice.

A 4-H member in a red t-shirt emerges from the early morning haze, a wide blue lanyard swinging around her neck. Her short brown hair frames an excited grin.

“Meg!” I exclaim. “Hi!”

“Hi! I saw the jacket and knew it had to be you, so hi!”

“I’m giving a speech at the Opening Ceremony. It’s starting soon, we need to go.”

“I’ll be there, too!”

I wave, she gives me her usual salute, and my teammates and I spin again and rush to the FFA Pavilion to meet our supervisors.

Continue reading “A Speech and Some Sheep: Sharing Joy from the Indiana State Fair”
Our Ring Sheep

Our Ring Sheep

Some losses are worse than others.

Yesterday afternoon, we discovered that our beloved ring sheep, Szarlota, was dead.

It was devastating. She was the first Shetland I bought, and she had won her class at a show in Colorado. Her genetics and conformation were good, and I planned to build a flock from her quality and beautiful personality.

She’d come up for a scratch on the chin, and the day I went to buy her, she followed me around, begging me to take her home. (The full story is at the end of “Sheep Make Everything Better“). Continue reading “Our Ring Sheep”

Wanderings in a Letter

Wanderings in a Letter

Dear Lovely Readers,

Happy Happy Happy May!

It’s a beautiful Indiana blue sky out there, new lambs and calves are everywhere, and it’s 15 days before Jeff and I get married.

This guy is pretty awesome, and I’m so thankful to be able to start our married life together without needing to postpone the ceremony itself.

In front of the mural, downtown Lafayette, Indiana. By Rainstorm Photo.
Continue reading “Wanderings in a Letter”
A New Venture: Collecting Sap for Maple Syrup

A New Venture: Collecting Sap for Maple Syrup

Our farm is woven into a few hundred acres of woods. Fences wind across the creeks and up the sides of the hollers, and the livestock graze among the trees. I often walk along the fences in the woods to look for spots that need repairs. Sometimes, Jeff would join me while we were getting to know each other.

“This is a really nice patch of woods, Elise,” he would say. He’d tell stories from one of his college courses in which he learned how to gather sap from maple trees in the spring. “I’d really like to do that again.”

A couple of weeks ago, he scouted out four trees along the road, drilled holes in their sides, and secured spiles in the holes. He then pushed a short piece of plastic pipe over the spout of the spile. The end of the pipe dropped through the narrow opening of a milk jug, which he secured to the spile with twine.

2020 sap set-up in milk jug
Sap set-up.

Continue reading “A New Venture: Collecting Sap for Maple Syrup”

Solitude

Solitude

Corn stalks in a fresh, unbroken snow fall.

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”

Sheep for My Birthday

Sheep for My Birthday

examining ram
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”