Tuesday, December 7, 2010

the big day: part 2

By 5:30 AM this morning I had ten CSA orders filled, fed the sheep, rabbits, chickens, and pig, took the dogs out for their morning constitutional. After all that, I was quite ready for breakfast. I came inside from the 20 degree morning and cracked two eggs into a cast iron skillet. The plan: smoked-maple cheddar scrambled eggs to go with my coffee. I rarely make such a breakfast on a weekday, but I was starving. In yesterday's flurry of activity I forgot to eat dinner, and between a growling stomach, a morning of chores, and the fresh coat of snow covering the farm: I was ready for a warm meal. It was glorious.

Speaking of food...

I was prepping my kitchen yesterday for some cheese making with my friend Cathy when a large trailer backed into the farm's driveway. I caught a glance of it when I peaked my head out into the front room and saw through the windows a large, bulking, mass of metal making its way into the drive. I felt my heart race as I fumbled for my wellies by the front door. This is happening. Breathe. This is happening. Breathe. This is happening. Breathe.Gibson was right beside me. He wanted to see what all the fuss was about too. From inside I watched two women step off the rig and a flash of black and white jumped out with them. It's was Barb Armata's Meg. Daughter of her famed trial dog, Jill. They had backed the trailer close to the open pasture gate. We were going to unload straight away. With Meg crouched in their rear, and people on all sides, the five ewes darted from the back of the trailer into my field in about 90 seconds. I shut the gate. I thought unloading would be more of a hassle? Barb explained sheep like gates, and they like going uphill. Duly noted.

I paid, thanked, and waved the delivery crew off and then there was this moment when I looked at the turn in the road the trailer and disappeared into, and then over to the five new sheep, and then back to the road...and realized these were not rented. These were my charges. To have and to hold until death do us part.

I had separated my original trio of British longwools from the main paddock, moved them over to the other pasture and shut the gate.. I didn't want anyone knocking heads (or my knees) during that first unloading bit. But there wasn't any fuss. The Blackface ewes stayed in a tight clump and sashayed over to the fence line where Sal, Maude, and Joseph were. Noses met noses through the border. I was amazed watching Maude. She seemed to lose about ten pounds of anxiety. Finally, she wasn't the only woman on the scene. And Sal was so happy to see a harem I thought his curled lips would break the wire. Yikes, this might get scandalous.

I wasn't alone in all this. I was with the Daughton Family (Well, most of them). Tim was at the office, but his wife Cathy and her three boys were here with me. They arrived just as the livestock trailer was pulling in. I had asked if they wanted to come over to help with the new sheep (in case help was needed) and to learn how to make cheese. Cathy and I brought it up in conversation, but I thought a cheese making lesson would be a good excuse to have some familiar faces share in the excitement of the big day. I'd have some company, and we'd turn some Stewart's whole milk into mozzarella. It would be a win win.

...but right now the entire Daughton progeny (and their mother) were watching me climb the fence to let both tribes of sheep meet for the first time. I was hoping it wouldn't be violent, but expected some fireworks. I climbed the hill, opened the gate, and let my three good sheep meet the new kids. Scenes from Braveheart flashed through my mind. Would my Brits and Scots feel the need to reenact history?

It was amazing how calm they were. Both groups nuzzled and grunted, and that was that. No one butted heads, or hollered, or lifted a hoof to stomp. It was pretty anti-climatic acually. Within minutes the new girls were laying on the hillside like it was their home all along. Sal literally paraded around, in glory. The new ewes (newes?) didn't even bat an eyelash at him. They just sat down with their punk rock wool and acted like prep school kids being hit on by a pimple-faced barista. Or maybe it wasn't snobbery, but motherhood sinking in. They had no time to flirt anymore. They had big red and pink marks on their rears from recently being serviced by Barb's Blackface Ram. Proof positive there would be lambs in a few months.

As the day went on I got lost in sewing projects and cooking, but as it grew dark I turned on the lamp post outside and saw my new sheep all on the hill. As the snow and wind beat their faces, they just sat like great Buddahs. I worried they didn't realize they had shelter, so I bundled up and decided to give them a tour. I walked out to the flock with my big crook in my hands—a big, clunky, inexpensive, wooden job I bought for twelve dollars from Sheepman Supply—certainly not the classy ram's horn and cherry wood you see at the sheepdog trials. No, this was an everyday schlub of a crook and I was its handler. Together me and my humble crook walked up the slippery hillside (It was starting to really snow as the day grew darker) and I called the sheep over to me with some grain in a white bucket. All eight filed behind me, walking with their new shepherd in the lead. I poured the grain into the larger, new, shelter and when all of them were inside eating, I decided my work was done.

I walked down the hillside with my crook, a calm smile, and eight sheep behind me in a little brown barn. And that is how the first day of true snow on Cold Antler Farm ended.

And this story is just beginning...


Blogger Debi said...

Sounds like an amazing day, I'm so happy for you!

December 7, 2010 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger wisegoat acres said...

So Awesome!!! Congratulations Jenna I'm so happy you have fulfilled your dream.

December 7, 2010 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Robbie said...

great story!

December 7, 2010 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger ladybughomer said...

Ah Jenna. You make me this old lady cry. Lovely.

December 7, 2010 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Very good story! I found your blog today on Sall's blog. I like it very much and will keep my eye on it. =)


December 7, 2010 at 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yaaaay! Thanks for sharing your excitement, and congratulations! Your new ewes definitely look punk rock, and I can't wait to learn more about them.

December 7, 2010 at 9:30 PM  
Blogger Robbie Grey said...

Very nicely written. I especially liked the last line.

December 7, 2010 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Tora Consolo said...

what a truly wonderful beginning....

December 7, 2010 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger bellananda said...

oh, hooray, jenna! my heart is just soaring for you. what a day!

*love from kc*

December 7, 2010 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I bet when you go out in the morning, they'll all be outside! Mine are invariably lounging around on the frozen ground rather than inside their well-bedded shed. At least, that's where they are on the rare morning that I spot them before they spot me, jump to their feet and begin singing their Hurry Up With Breakfast Already song.

December 7, 2010 at 10:05 PM  
Blogger Tara said...


December 7, 2010 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

Thanks for sharing this great adventure with us!

December 7, 2010 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 7, 2010 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

smoked-maple cheddar scrambled eggs... sound really good... how do you make those?

December 7, 2010 at 11:13 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

How wonderful!!! What a great adventure you are starting.

December 8, 2010 at 1:21 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Kind of wishing I lived next door to you right about now. I enjoy reading about your goings on, but I'm thinking how peaceful it would be to sit by the window with a cup of coffee and watch your morning ritual. Is that awful? I don't think I'll ever be cut out to take on all that you have, and I don't think I could be dragged kicking and screaming out there at that hour in the cold snowiness, but I do want to spend my day quietly observing your flock.

December 8, 2010 at 2:08 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

You are so right, a new episode is beginning. Enjoy your travel.

December 8, 2010 at 4:47 AM  
Blogger Nanette said...

It's late night here in Australia, hot and humid, and I'm heading to my bed with a smile on my face and a warm feeling around my heart.....anyone would think they were my darn BFS sitting out there in the snow, I feel so darn proud...and connected.

What a story to take into sleep with me.

Thanks Jenna.

December 8, 2010 at 5:42 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

Just how it should be. I look forward to sharing your future adventures.

December 8, 2010 at 5:58 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

Just how it should be. I look forward to sharing your future adventures.

December 8, 2010 at 5:58 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Very happy it worked out for you with no major hassle. Gorgeous looking sheep.
A minor correction, viz the Braveheart reference: do you mean English v Scottish? (rather than British v Scottish, since Scotland is part of Britain..)

December 8, 2010 at 6:28 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

Beautiful...all of it.

December 8, 2010 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

I just stumbled on your blog the other day and I am already deep into the story of you and your little farm and especially... your sheep!!


December 8, 2010 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Laughed out loud with this post. I can just picture dear Sal with his dream come true. I wonder if he will be as attached to you now that he has so many ladies to look after.

Glad the British Isles united so well.

December 8, 2010 at 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats! It sounds like the newcomers are off to a good start.

December 8, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Earthdrummer said...


December 8, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

so happy for you, congratulations!

i hope they bring you much happiness and joy (and me stories/pictures!)

December 8, 2010 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

You have a really great gift for making us all feel like we were there with you. Thank you so very much for sharing your meaningful day with us.

December 8, 2010 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Joy Bear said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us! This really made my day special. Plus, the comment that sheep love gates and love going uphill cracked me up. I knew I had a lot in common with those adorable creatures! :)

December 8, 2010 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hi Jenna- I don't know if you follow Gene Lodgson's blog, but this post might be of interest or use to you:

December 8, 2010 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

That brings me to tears of happiness for you. I'd love to see a photo of you leading your girls and boys to the barn,

December 8, 2010 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hooray! Congratulations, Jenna.
And I just saw Victorian Farm. Fabulous! Thanks for recommending it. I heard there's an Edwardian Farm too...

December 8, 2010 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

I admire what you're doing.

December 8, 2010 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger David said...


How rewarding it feels to see your plans come together. you appear to be focused on what you are doing and where you are going. And in my humble opinion your doin jus fine. Keep it up, and enjoy those moments of acomplishments

December 8, 2010 at 6:47 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

I can not wait until you expand your CSA. I would love some of that wool!

December 8, 2010 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I'm all smiles reading this. Well done.

December 8, 2010 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Sounds like a good day to me.

December 8, 2010 at 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow . . . gorgeous post, gorgeous day, gorgeous you, gorgeous sal and his gals . . . wishing you well from the carolina coast where folks are shiviering from the cold because it got down to 52 today . . . say hello to the snow from my fuzzy guys to yours :)

December 10, 2010 at 4:50 PM  

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