Thursday, August 21, 2008

taking stock

So tonight I'm heading over to West Hebron, NY for dinner with friends. I'll be over at Shelli and Allen's place, a small farm in a quiet mountain town. I met them through fiddling (both of them play) and what started as lessons turned into a new friendship, which is nice when you still consider yourself the new kid. But there is an underlying agenda to this meeting, and we all know what it is. You see, Shelli and Allen are not only fiddlers - they're shepherds. They have a small flock of Border Leicester/Romney cross ewes. Tonight's dinner is going to focus on one thing - sheep. And here's the big news folks...

I might be taking two of them to live at Cold Antler.

I've been dreaming about sheep for years, but never considered them as an actual reality. Not because of any work involved (sheep are actually less upkeep than a flock of chickens) but just plain money. Good stock could cost hundreds of dollars an animal, fencing just as much... Not to mention building a small shelter for poor rainy weather and shade from the sun and making sure the landlord and neighbors were okay with the occasional bleating and bahhing of ewes.

These were the things keeping hooves off Cold Antler ground. But then little things started to percolate. Things like Shelli offering me two small sheep for fiddle lessons (what?! free wool stock!), and then another woman sold me some used fencing for the exact same price as an Angora rabbit I sold the same day, the money literally went from rabbit to fence within minutes). After I found the free sheep, and free fencing, I was told by my landlord sheep were perfectly okay (encouraged even, she wanted a cow when she lived there) as long as they didn't live in the cabin with me.

Then, my amazing and handy neighbor Katie (carpenter extraordinaire) told me she had a pile of scrap wood and plywood and would help BUILD ME a small shelter. And as if that wasn't kismet enough, my co-worker Nadine who has sheep, knows where I can get great second cut hay locally and cheap.

The perfect icing on this wooly cake...all my neighbors said if I was away they would happily throw down some hay and pet the sheep over the holidays. A built in sheep-sitting service while I'm with family or out on book events! If I agree to the sheep, it'll be practically free and everyone's on board.

Things are really working out for me - I tell ya there's no justice.

Tonight I'll go see them. I will eat good food and drink some wine and then go outside to meet the girls. Will this all happen? Will I finally be able to say I'm a shepherd? Who knows, it's not certain. But for the past year I've been working towards this goal single-mindedly and every peice of the puzzle has fallen into place. I've done my homework too. Read books, taken classes, attended workshops, visited shepherds, watched herding trials, held border collie pups in my arms... and just the fact that it could happen has me walking on cloud nine. I haven't been this happy and excited since college! It feels amazing.


Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Go for it!

August 21, 2008 at 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mazel tov!
Would you adopt me? I'm a good worker, keep regular hours, grew up on a farm (mostly non-working, I confess)and I like animals.

August 21, 2008 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

That's pretty amazing, with luck like that you will be full-time farming in no time!

I have a neighbor who raises rabbits, I may have to start more time over there and see what I can learn. You are damn inspiring.

August 21, 2008 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Darx said...

Hooray! That is so incredibly fantastic. What a wonderful example of the power of focus to make something happen. I look forward to hearing all about the adventure.

August 21, 2008 at 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How exciting - can't wait to read all about the girls! I dream of shepherding sheep someday.

August 21, 2008 at 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very excited for you! You go girl!

August 22, 2008 at 12:41 AM  
Blogger The Old Man and His Dog said...

CONGRATS!! I did notice one missing piece of the puzzle though.....a D-O-G. A nice border collie! I'll concentrate and put this wish in for ya! Male or female? Colors?

August 22, 2008 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I'll have my eyes open for a rough black and white male pup over the next year or so. i gotta pace myself!

August 22, 2008 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Sojourner Design said...


August 24, 2008 at 6:16 PM  

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