Homestead revelations

Monday, February 1, 2010

The shepherdess

Realizing you’re becoming a homesteader comes in tiny revelations over time. You’d think that having a box full of chicks in your kitchen or writing a check for 10-bags of grain and 2-bales of hay would bring it home to you, but those grand gestures usually don’t. Perhaps it’s because they’re too obvious or your mind is so busy trying to figure out how to get the chickens from the kitchen to the coop or how all that hay and grain is getting to the barn when you’re only 5’3″?

No, it’s the little things. Like realizing you just tracked sheep crap all over the house because you’re used to a life of lawns, not paddocks. Or when you arrive at the office brushing hay off your clothes. Or when you’re watching a period movie with sheep running around the sets and yelling at the screen “What!? Why the hell do they have a modern Suffolk sheep living in 17t Century England?!! And then getting angry at the film crew for their obvious lack of sheep research.

That’s the moment. That’s when you realize you’ve crossed over…over to the dark side of the barn. That’s when you understand you’re becoming a homesteader.

I’ve had those moments…at the office, when co-workers chat about the colder-than-usual morning while sipping on a Starbucks latte. One saying to another “Weren’t you surprised when you walked outside this morning?! Hello Winter.” And I realize how completely unfazed I was. Did I even take notice of it? Or did I go about business as usual? But had this been a morning year’s back, I would have been shocked. Back before my life revolved around a garden and a barn full of livestock, I let the weather happen to me. I didn’t live a reactionary life towards it (unless you consider putting on a sweater reactionary.) But now I stalk the weather reports and haunt With a garden full of veggies and pumpkins and sunflowers to keep going until harvest, I fear the early frosts, and plan how much outside work I can get done before 7AM. I check the weather report all the time.

I knew for over a week we were going to have a frost advisory last night. So after work and school Brianne and I did all the morning chores in advance. We topped off all the water buckets and the rabbit’s lick-its. We loaded fresh lay mash into the chicken feeders and pellets into the rabbit’s trough. We forked in bedding for the lambs and fluffed the shavings in the nesting boxes. Brianne set things up so she’d have an easier and more comfortable morning. So come the dark blue light of 6:40AM Brianne would only need to drop feeders into the sheep pen. Which is all she did need.

This morning we walked outside looking ridiculous – heavy fleece coats, knitted musher’s hats and thick brightly colored plaid flannel shirts, once worn by grandpa. We looked silly, but we were warm (and the sheep could are less how we’re dressed.) Work went quickly and by the time we were back in the house the tea was ready.

I was never surprised for a moment. Which comes with the wooly territory, I guess.

Creative Commons License photo credit: jaci XIII

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