Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Low Bar

I walked up my pasture's hill with an empty five gallon bucket, my crook, and my sheepdog by my side. I was in the same battle-worn Carhartt pants, wool sweater, and knit cap I had been wearing all week. My hair was brushed and plaited into pig tails, for hygienic reasons if nothing else. It had been too cold, (and I had been too busy) to just hop in the shower. When you work from a home office and everyone expects you to look a little feral - you don't mind the break. I digress.

My dog and I were walking up the hill. The sheeps' heads darted up at the sight of Gibson but I called him back to my side, muttering in Gaelic. I only really feel comfortable enough with the language to converse with my dog, who answers more to "Cu Dona" than Gibson now. Though I say it with love. Cu Dona, Tha gaol agam ort. I tell him, all the time. I do. He is my heart.

Anyway, we looked the part, but weren't going herding but were headed to the last of the apples in the back pasture. The plan was to hit the tall branches with the crook and then gather them into a bucket for the pigs, a way to stretch their grain and my pocketbook and vary their diet. So the bucket and crook had a purpose for sure, but the dog was just along with me because, well, because Gibson is always with me. I didn't even think to leave him inside and as I knocked and grabbed apples for the pig's dinner he lay where he could watch me and the sheep, comfortable in the 20-eight degree afternoon wind as if it was high summer.

I fill up the bucket half way and then head down the hill. The sheep all bleat and baa at us, knowing full well what is in the buckets and demanding some hurled their way. I oblige and chuck a few apples into the pen and the seven sheep stampede them as if it was the last bit of sustenance on earth. The lamb is still unable to walk, but eating and drinking well. He seems mentally sound, just as if his spin stopped working. I'm talking it over with some small livestock neighbors, friends and farmers but I may have to put him down. I won't until I talk with a veterinarian and several friends, but I worry about it.

Gibson and I feed the sheep their hay. We feed the pigs, too. Bonita is back and her and Ida enjoy half a bale while I carry the other half back to the pigs. They enjoy their greens as well and what they don't eat they turn into a comfy bed on these cold nights. I'm grateful I have been home for a few hours sewing (two cloaks mailed today!) and so the house is warm from indoor activity and the stoked fire. It is well over sixty degrees, possibly sixty-two and to me that is an oven. Thanks to the warm blankets mailed by readers my heart and my home are warmer then ever before. I know some of you send them to turn into cloaks I could sell, but some are too precious to touch. One is pink and from Holland, it has tulips and I sleep under it every night. Another is an old Hudson Bay blanket, it is on my bed. They are the two nicest things I own. Well, besides my animals.

Turkeys follow me around and I feel zero guilt about taking one of them out next week for Thanksgiving Dinner. It is an honor to present a fat, healthy, turkey you raised yourself and prepared yourself. It is also a great gift that I don't have to cook it. I deliver it to the Wesner's and they'll roast it and invite me to a seat at their table. I have driven trucks I bought myself with one check, and I have been given raises at various corporate offices…but nothing compares to being the turkey provider at Thanksgiving. I beam.

Earlier in the day, before the sewing and the evening chores, I drove over to Livingston Brook Farm to check the Swedish trap for a hawk. There wasn't one. There hasn't been any activity with that trap all week and last, and I hope that is just a streak waiting to be broken. It took so long and so much community, effort, study, and hope to get my Apprentice License to trap and train a hawk that here I am at the finish line and unable to see the ribbon. Tomorrow I think Ed and I will go out trapping together, which means driving around the country side in his Jeep and throwing small traps from a slow moving car in hopes that birds perched along the roadside fall for them and let me take them home. My fingers are crossed and my heart is beating fast. It feels good to be so excited about a thing.

So that is the afternoon into the evening here. Tomorrow I may get a hawk, and if I do you will certainly here about it on here. I can not wait to share this adventure with you, to write about it for anyone interested in the relationship, if not the sport itself. That's a big task to wrap my head around right now, though. It's all one step at a time, just like learning Merlin was. Just like getting this farm was. You take a step and before you know it you're standing on your own land, then you're in a saddle, and before you know it you'll be on the wing.

Well, let me have my little romantic moments. They carry me on. Tomorrow: maybe a hawk but tonight I'll certainly get a shower and set out a new pair of pants. It may be a low bar for success, but I'll take what I can get.