Friday, June 06, 2008

Sometimes, Life throws you a Curve.

Your heading down the road, and you see this
(does anyone really go 25mph?):And then you see this one:

And you realize, that where you thought you were going to end up, and who you thought you were going to be, are not at all what really happens. Instead of being a shepherd who dyes some yarn and plays around with fiber, you find yourself turning into someone who defines herself as a dyer, who plays around at being a shepherd. And you realize a few things. A few very Important things:
  1. Running a farm with 300 ewes and their occasionall 600 +/- lambs is a full time job for (occasionally) 3 adults (you are only 2 adults and a 5 year old).

  2. Marketing said lambs (and pork and beef) is a full time job (unless you plan to run 750 +/- sheep the next year)

  3. Dyeing and Marketing eleventy-billion pounds of yarn per year is also a full time job.

  4. There is only 1 of you, and only 24 hours in a day, no matter what you do.

Something has to give, and while I do enjoy the farm and the flock.... let's do some comparisons.

  1. Forcing 300 ewes and their offspring to walk through a scary chute system where their toes get wet, is not fun. In fact, it's hard labor and it sucks. When you can be thrilled it only took 6 hours to accomplish... well, that should say something. Comparison: Dyeing yarn, being creative, Earth Wind & Fire on the stereo and the internetz on the laptop? hmm. yarn dyeing wins that round.

  2. Hoof-trimming 300 ewes is a messy business. (do you know what they've been standing in while waiting to get their pedicure?) Comparison: What's that you say? No manure on my clothes, gloves, or body while dyeing yarn? Imagine that. Yarn dyeing wins that round as well.

  3. Healthcare for the sick, wounded, or injured animals. One word: Maggots. I think that says enough, don't you? Comparison: Any maggots in yarn? No? EXCELLENT.

  4. Unrolling 2 (two) 600lb roundbales of hay every day, all winter long, is so entertaining when it's accompanied by gale-force winds bringing several inches of snow. You can't beat this kind of entertainment, really. Comparison: What's that you say? Stay INDOORS BY THE FIRE and dye more yarn? totally.

There are also some very good points about the farm. New born lambs, wild baby turkeys in the field, baby fawns grazing the hillside with their mums.

And also? A daughter who knows how to assist when a mommy sheep needs help giving birth (when she was 3, she figured out where human babies come from after watching a lamb being born). A daughter who loves to give city kids a tour of the barn, and introduce them to bottle lambs & the baby chicks. A daughter who wants to wear a pretty Minnie Mouse dress when she goes hunting for worms. Getting to spend hours and hours and hours with her, watching her grow and learn new things.

So. I asked you what you thought the picture of the truck in the last post might represent. My 2 favorite answers from the comments:

  1. This is your new yarn truck with the build-in drying rack, that you bought after you found out that the Harlot posted about your yarn again. (It does look a lot like a livestock truck, though.

  2. that is a truck for transporting live kindergartners... or what I'd be tempted to use as one;)

Frankly, I'm not sure which is the better idea.

The reality, is that this vehicle is a triple-decker livestock hauler. Capable of holding 276 sheep. How do I know it will hold that many? Because that's how many we were able to get on board. Yes, we have sold off the flock. This has taken me some time to come to grips with (see earlier definitions post) but it has been the best plan overall.

The Amish signs - and the Amish - have been popping up around here more and more as they have been moving up from Pennsylvania lately. (Please drive carefully. They have just as much right to the road as you do. An accident between a car and an Amish buggy is not good.) This nice gentleman is taking the draft-horses home after a busy day in the hayfields. They live down the road from us.

Recently, some Amish friends of ours suggested to a family looking to move that they stop by our farm. Yes, they do just stop in the driveway and ask if your farm is for sale. With the right offer and the flock already mostly gone (there is still a flock of about 20 here), it became apparent that selling the farm and moving really is the thing to do. We've been looking at smaller farms, closer to Syracuse but haven't found one yet. And so, we will be renting while we keep looking, waiting to see what's around the next curve in the road.

The house we've found to rent? Well, let's start by saying it has a finished apartment downstairs with it's own kitchen. IT'S OWN KITCHEN, PEOPLE! If moving to a house with a built-in dye studio isn't a Sign, then I don't know what is. It does not however, have land for the animals and they are being moved to a friend's farm until we find something for us all.

When does all this take place, you ask? How does 'next week' sound?

Oh, and in other less anxiety-ridden news, I had a concert to go to last night. My daughter is in Kindergarten, and the elementary school had their music concert. Now, Stephanie, as it seems the baton has been passed to me, could you please ask Joe how many more of these I have left to go? Everytime I tried to add it up I got dizzy and couldn't concentrate. Thanks!

Well, that's all for now folks. I really should go pack some boxes now... I've heard a rumor that I'm moving soon.


Tsarina of Tsocks said...

You're MOVING?????

Crap. How come nobody tells me these things?

Glenna said...

No more rented sheep? That is happy and sad all at once! Maybe you will end up closer to Tsarina so collaboration will be easier.

Tsarina of Tsocks said...

Actually, a little farther away. But closer to part-time labor!!!!

FaithEllen said...

We saw "Black Sheep" this weekend and I thought of you and your flock, so it's probably just as well that you've sold yours before they became Mutant Zombie Sheep of DOOOOOOOM.


Lynne said...

Whoa!!!! Talk about changes! So you're going to become a gentlewoman farmeress, hmmm?

For the past several months, I've been wondering how you fit all the blizzards and lambing and such into the tizzy the Harlot threw into the yarn process, and have determined that you have missed approximately 675 hours of sleep since February 1. This is not healthy for dyers or other living things.

Therefore, I think this is a VERY good idea! Just make sure there's plenty of room for us visiting firemen to pitch our tents for the dyeing festivals when you buy the new place, and room for us to build your yarn studio!

Keep us updated, please pretty polly, and with lots and lots of pictures???

(((((((( Jennifer ))))))))

Caroline M said...

I didn't comment last time because I'd look such a fool if I'd got it wrong. I guessed that the flock was moving out because of your time being spent elsewehere and I got as far as thinking about how you could still be a sheep farm with no sheep. I didn't see the next step but it follows. There are only 24 hours in a day and no matter how hard you work that isn't going to change.

If you're moving in the next 5 weeks be sure to redirect your mail (tea in transit)

LauraS said...

Wow! That's a huge change. It sounds like a good choice for you and your family, though. I hope your move goes smoothly and you can start enjoying the new dye studio in the rental house.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That's quite a transition you are making, but it sounds very exciting. Congratulations, and may all go smoothly.

And now you'll have time for naps, yes?


Tan said...

Wow. Lisa didn't even know! Sneaky, sneaky. I know it's a big move to sell the sheep; my grandpa couldn't ever part with all of them. There were still six in a little pasture next to the back yard when he had to move into a nursing home.

georg said...

You're moving? CRAP!

OfTroy said...

you'll always have the farm. it lives in your heart, and will always be there.

It will always be who you are, and how you are.

Your colors, your yarns, will always be they way they are because of the way you are--and you are who you are because of the farm.

I m so glad its continuing to be a farm, (and not plowed over, and 'developed' into a half dozen mc mansions called "fleecy acres'!)

good luck with your new digs.

Angie said...

Good luck with your move! It sounds like a very healthy decision....something had to give there, it seems. Here's wishes for finding your new dream home when you need it. :D The temporary one sounds fantastic!

Kathe said...

Wait, wait! How far away are you gonna be from me this summer? Because, ya know, it is all about me! I hope I get to see you...

sharon said...


That is a lot of curves.
You have to do what is good for you and your family and everythign you were doing sounded like a lot of work.
And I can't get me dishes done.

Anonymous said...

Somehow, I am really sad about not building that yarn den with the enlosed walk-way for you. But then the build-in fiber studio is so much better than that, plus this solves the problem of the napping schedule. Well, not for the next two to four weeks, but maybe after that?

candi said...

Congratulations! I wish you well with your new farm and smaller flock and so much more time for the creative side of you.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! I am a sheep-renter (received the rental as a gift from my mom). No sheep??? (Or is the truck bringing mine right to my door? I have one acre. Would that support one sheep? Just kidding!) Drop me an email sometime after you move. Tina.
TLBashline [at] comcast [dot] net

Dan said...

I can't even imagine. I grew up on a hobby farm. Mom worked away, then stayed home (ran a bunch of businesses) and it was all we could due to manage a breeding pair of sheep, two goats we'd breed, two pigs, and flocks of chickens and ducks. I can't imagine dealing with an entire FLOCK's tendency to want to have their lamb's on the coldest nights in the coldest corner of the farm.

It sounds like it's the right move, hard as it is. And a built in dye studio? A sign. Definitely.

::hugs:: and best wishes always.

Beth in WI said...

Ouch. I was just visiting the site to see if I could still rent a sheep. I've been saving my quarters in a big big jar and now.... oh well. I am sure it is the right move for you right now. I never did know how you got all that work done.

Ironically, my dream is to own a fiber farm next door to Amish country.