Sunday, May 6, 2012

the monster and the mother

The ewe who's lamb was taken away will not stop crying out, sounding the call that once brought her babe running to her. It's hard to hear. Sometimes this place makes me feel like a monster. I steal babes from loving arms, chop off heads, hang bodies to skin and gut, and rip plants from the ground. It's just part of the story, of course. Every act of violence and deceit has a reason and an opposite cause. I am hearing that wailing mother, and it is ripping me up inside. But I also nearly cried through my smile, handing over the most beautiful ewe lamb in the world to Yesheva. It would be one of their new breeding animals, raised by an entire community who would call her by name. These are my friends, that lamb was a symbol of an entire year of work. She did not cry for her mother on the ride to Common Sense, just sat in Yesh's arms next to her 17-month-old son Rhea's car seat. She looked like a fertility goddess of spring. Her farmer's glow, perfect skin, flowing hair and lamb and child side by side. I was so proud to be a part of that photograph.

This weekend I engaged in so much physical labor and sleep I lost three pounds. I've been having a hard week, too many things happening at once and none of them pleasant. Nothing worth sharing here, and nothing consequential to my health or the general goings on of the world. Just life, family, old dogs, and friends and all their particulars and sustainabilities. I will be okay. I'm turning thirty in a few weeks and I still have so much growing up to do.

I don't know anything that heals me like work, save music. Tonight, tired and sore I set a pot of tea on the stove. While it puttered and smoked off whatever remains on the burner, I grabbed my fiddle in the kitchen. The fiddle I bought in Idaho, moved to Vermont with, and brought to New York. It isn't my 1900's Fiddle, not the one I gave away. It is a cheap fiddle from ebay. It sounds fine though, at least to me. All I wanted to play was one song, a favorite Appalachian Ballad I first heard in Tennessee called Blackest Crow. I played it until my hands ached.

I learned that song so many years ago, I brought it from Tennessee in my heart, learned it in Idaho on my first fiddle, played it on countless summer nights in the hammock at the cabin in Vermont. It rang out of this farmhouse tonight like an anthem. I played it clean. I played it with drones. I played and sang at the same time. I wish I could tell every practicing therapist in the world to hand their patients a pitchfork, a pig pen, a long walk and a fiddle. If it can help me fall to sleep it can help anyone.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Victoria said...

A hard week on my end, too, though without much cause. (Six months till I turn 30 . . .) Mostly remembering lost love ones and reminding myself of where I'm trying to go with my life.

I put up a big piece of paper and drew out my current novel's plot line to see where it had gone wrong. It's hard to be sad when deep in the throes of creation -- no matter what you're doing, it absorbs you.

May 6, 2012 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Farmlady Wannabe said...

I haven't any farm animals (yet), but do have a large garden slowly converting from pretties to food.
Keeps my late septagenarian body moving and feeds my soul. Loved gardens are healing places - I have one - I love it.

May 6, 2012 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Jenna. was this the first lamb born this year or one from last year? This year's lamb would only be a few weeks old. Just wondering. And it's good to be so tired you just barely make it to the bed. I have felt like that alot lately. I hope everything works itself out for you.

May 6, 2012 at 8:53 PM  
Anonymous T. Crockett said...

I think learning what works for you, in the good times and especially the rough is a sign of growing up, and doing it well.

I don't have a clue what your thoughts may be on religion, but our rector gave a sermon recently on the idea of being a shepherd and I kept thinking of you and what you do. If you're curious (it's just 10 min) here's a link http://soundcloud.com/st-annes-in-the-fields/sermon-04-29-2012-kate

May 6, 2012 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

Why do you remove lambs before theyre weaned?

May 6, 2012 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

((((J))))) hugs for Jenna

May 6, 2012 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

One day at a time Jenna ... You're in our prayers ...

May 7, 2012 at 12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been quietly following your blog since reading an ARC of of Barnheart (picked up last year at Book Expo and FINALLY had time to read this winter). After an exhausting week week waiting tables in Westchester County (albeit in the most beautiful spot looking across to the Palisades), the post of Blackest Crow and about the ewe lamb hit me just at the most vulnerable spot: missing my hometown in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and the new life I've carved out in the Northeast. We are all the mother ewe and the daughter: crying out for what we're missing and yet fully engrossed in what's to come.
Jess S., Tarrytown, NY

May 7, 2012 at 2:19 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

Why did you pull the lamb at that young age? The lamb is not going to accept a bottle easily, and the mother could come down with mastitis- just curious why you would pull her now and not let her get to at least 8 weeks?

May 7, 2012 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

The lamb was going to a dairy, the same goat dairy three of my lambs went to last year, they all thrived on goats milk and did better at that farm than mine did on mother's milk and grasss. They all left before they were weaned. Common Sense Farm requested them soon as possible because they want to bottle raise the young lambs with their children and raising them with their goat kids as young as possible. It worked wonderfully last year and it is working this year too. None of my sheep that had their lambs removed suddenly got mastitis.

Please understand I do not do things foolishly here. Please do not make assumptions and post them here. I am no longer a beginner with sheep and everything is done for a reason. These animals are mine to raise, sell, eat, and manage as I see fit for each animals particular circumstances.

May 7, 2012 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

We sell goat kids well before weaning too. Lots of demand for bottle babies around here, and the sooner we sell them, the easier it is for us. We're less tempted to keep animals that we don't need.

May 7, 2012 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I know you had to do it, but I feel so VERY, VERY bad for that mama lamb. Sure wish her baby could come back to her.

May 7, 2012 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I know you had a reason, but I feel SO very, very bad for that mama lamb. Sure wish her baby could come back.
Bless her heart!!

May 7, 2012 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger JulieG said...

I'm turning thirty in a few weeks and I still have so much growing up to do.
You've accomplished so much in your short life. You bring so much into others lives. Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you're a writer. :) Wishing you an enjoyable and fruitful 10 year milestone birthyear that will last this whole year!

I don't know anything that heals me like work, save music.
I used to be like you but lost my love of music when I was hearing it 24/7 everywhere.

tell every practicing therapist in the world to hand their patients a pitchfork, a pig pen, a long walk and a fiddle
I agree with you but that's a cure. Therapist and docs in general don't usually cure, they treat the symptoms.

Last week for me was spent taking care of Sherlock, our cat. He was bit by a copperhead and now has to wear a elizabethan collar and stay inside til he is healed. I feel like I have a toddler, he follows me everywhere in the house, even to the bathroom! I hear the plastic collar bumping on the doorways, furniture, and walls when he's looking for me. He tries so hard to give hisself a bath and can only lick the air most of the time.

May 7, 2012 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Deltaville Jamie said...

The past few days have been difficult ones for me, for many reasons. Yet I too turned to "farm work" to ease the tension and the depression. I cleaned chicken brooders, rabbit pens, groomed horses and weeded flower gardens till my fingers ached. And I felt better.

May 7, 2012 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

I did not post any assumptions; I asked why you would pull a lamb who is not yet 3 weeks old from a ewe. Sometimes, like in sheep/goat dairies, it must be done, that's all I was getting at. They are your sheep, you can do what you like, obviously.

May 7, 2012 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger maryrose said...

Just wanted to say that I read "Made From Scratch" last month, and purchased my first dulcimer last week, thanks to you. You are right. Nothing soothes the soul like music. It feels good to be making music again. By the way, so glad you finally got your sheep! It's always been a dream of mine, too. One day...

May 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Jenna, I've kinda been goin through some stuff too and I gotta say, I really wish I could have been hangin with you last evening with a cup of tea, listening to your fiddle... Sounds so darned perfect *sigh*. You are lucky you've figured out how much the simple things can heal ones soul~

May 7, 2012 at 2:53 PM  

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