Saturday, March 21, 2009

refugin, if you will

My weekends are my refuge. I spent the morning lazy as hell. I slept in, rolled over the the stove to make coffee, and then spent the whole damn time playing guitar, baking bread, and doing my farm chores. One task melded into the other, and the only armor I needed to be outside in the sunshine was a trusty beat sweater. I used to wear polar fleece all the time, but now that I have sheep in my life (and always will) it seems hypocritical. I'm back to wool, indefinitely.

The proposal is coming along. Soon my writing time will be all back to the blog. I have a meeting with my editor Wednesday night, so after that you can expect big ol' updates about all things Cold Antler. But right now your patience and dedication is appreciated, very much so. And while you politely wait for me to get over myself, I'll post some old stories from Idaho.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

cold morning dogs

It's a cold, rainy morning here at Cold Antler. In a few minutes I'll be outside in the morning dark feeding the chickens and sheep by lantern light, but right now I'm trying to prep the percolator and wake up the dogs. Jazz and Annie are still curled up on the bed, watching me with mild interest and raised eyebrows. They know it''s cold, dark, and rainy outside. No part of them feels the need to rush out into the wet just yet. But dogs don't feed sheep, so they can revel in that luxury. I throw on my jacket, pull my hat over my eyes, grab the lantern and go.

This week has been dedicated (writing wise anyway) to preparing the proposal for another book, so I apologize for the thin attention to the blog. But don't fret. Soon that will be in the mail (with my fingers crossed) and I'll be so deep in spring farm work you'll quickly grow tired of all the updates. That's for certain.

I did post a small update to the Happy Homesteader blog at Mother Earth News, so if you're interested in that just click the link on the right hand side of the blog here. Enjoy your day folks, hope yours is dryer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

hay addict

following the flock

Daylight savings gave the sheep a special gift. The extra hours of sunlight allow just enough time to let the sheep out into their pasture every evening. For a few hours they can play in the yard. Then before I turn in for the night, I brine them back inside the safety of their wire pen for the night. Most of the winter they've been stuck in their enclosure since the heavy snow took down most of the electric netting. But now the snow is nearly gone, and the flock can run in the field again. You should see them go.

So after work I walk across the field to the back gate and with my trusty Gerber blade slice my shoddy baling-wire knots that held them in. Then they happily trot to their hay I dumped at the far end of the field. When I first open that gate Sal comes bounding out, followed by Marvin, and then Maude scuttles past in an angry shuffle. Then comes the best part. I turn and walk behind them into the sun. A shepherd and her small flock at sunset. If you knew how long I wanted this, you'd understand how beautiful those three minutes are to me.

This weekend brought days in the 40's and is slowly melting what's left of the ice crusting over the garden. In a few weeks I'll be able to start turning soil, and getting my early season veggies in. Lettuces, peas, broccoli, onions... (you get the idea.) But there is so much to do outside right now, the garden is mostly haunting the back of my mind.

Yesterday was a hard core farm day. I spent most of the afternoon working outside. I had to clean out old straw in the sheep pen and chicken coop and replace it with fresh. I hauled 50lb bags of livestock grains over my shoulders. I carried bales of hay and buckets of water. I also moved a pile of firewood my amazing neighbors cut down for me. And when I wasn't doing intense physical labor I was tending to the bees, who are running on fumes right now and need my help to make it till first pollen. I also collecting eggs and checking on the birds general health. I looked over the sheeps' hooves, and cleaned out rabbit hutches. Needless to say, I came in at the end of the day and was hurting. Sore, tired, and happy. A long hot shower and some fiddle tunes did the trick to remedy the situation, but this morning my back still feels like Maude did Shiatsu ala hoof.

It's all worth it.

I'm brewing a pot of coffee now, and listening to the roosters outside greeting me to this day. In a few moments I'll go out to feed them and the sheep and then drive over at Nelson's farm in Hebron for more hay. But right now I think the dogs and I are going to enjoy some morning radio and Vermont Coffee Company Dark roast. We'll let the birds holler for a few more minutes. It's not like the town of Sandgate isn't used to their song. You folks enjoy your sunday.