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So, originally I was planning for this post to have some good news with some bad news sandwich in the middle.  But!  Our bad news turned into possibly good news.  I’ll start from the top (this is all animal-related btw).

Over the weekend, one of our ewes gave birth to our first baby lamb.  She was very no nonsense about it (the momma, that is). We didn’t hear a peep from mom or baby when she was in labor overnight.  One day she was pregnant and the next, she had a jet black lamb cuddled up beside her.  We had been hoping that our sheep were pregnant. You can’t really tell just by looking at them, and we weren’t expecting any babies  until spring.  But, here she is!  Gregg says he’ll keep her since she’s a girl.  She’ll make babies not meat.  She will also make some very pretty wool which I could turn into yarn.  I’m not sure I’m up for the challenge of combing out bits of poop/grass/debris, etc., then spinning the wool into yarn either by hand or otherwise.  We’ll see.

Now for the bad news turned good.   Aspen, our Great Pyranese, was diagnosed with heart disease after an appointment with our local vet.  One of her eyes started swelling, and we thought it was infected. When the swelling didn’t go away after a week or so, we took her in to get evaluated.  She’s only two years old, so the prognosis of heart disease was not a good one.  We took her back to the Great Pyranese Rescue, so their vet could give her the full work-up that she deserves.  We were really sad about it.  We only had her for 3 months, but we loved her.  We got a call yesterday that she doesn’t have heart disease afterall.  Our local vet had made the diagnosis after seeing large amounts of fluid on ultrasound.  The  other vet was saying that the fluid was coming from her gut, and that her heart is totally fine.  Good news, but nothing conclusive yet.

Another bit of good news is that there’s enough daylight for our chickens to lay eggs.  Gregg collected 15 over the weekend.   He warned me that since we have a rooster out and about with our hens there’s a chance that when I crack an egg, an embryo will pop out.  😦 I’ve been nervous about it  ever since.

It really feels like we live on a farm now.

Last week, when E linked up to my post on emyselfandi, I got over 300 hits.  This is about 4 times what my traffic typically is.  So, for my first confession, that is the main reason why I’m linking up today.  That was such an ego boost for my little blog here!

I’m knitting a scarf for me.  I feel a little bit guilty about it, because I’m pregnant and so many of my friends are pregnant.  I should be knitting baby stuff, right?  I knit during my downtime at work.  My co-workers will ask me what I’m making, and I say “A scarf for me, BUT as soon as I finish it, I’m going to start knitting for Baby.”  This is true, but I’m always very quick to mention what I’m going to knit next to avoid any judgmental eyes (that would probably never come).

I miss Knoxville.  So does Gregg.  I idealized moving away, now I idealize moving back.  We like it here on the Eastern Shore (more and more-its rhyme time, apparently).  We love our house and our farm, and I love my job (once I drive the hour to get there).  But, we miss home and the people there.

Aspen

We got a new dog.  Her name is Aspen.  She is enormous.  More than 100 pounds of Great Pyranees?  Probably so.  This is a confession, because she makes 5 pets for us.  But!  She’s a working girl.  Gregg got her to keep predators away from…

Sheep

these three (hopefully) pregnant girls…

Chickens

as well as these mama hens.  I think she’s doing a good job because she spends all night barking.

Last confession, I don’t really like turkey that much.  Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve been loving Anne Lamott lately.  She lives just north of San Francisco, so she’s always walking around on the hills of Marin County.  That is a lovely, sacred place up there.  As Wimbo says, its smells like “sun-drenched eucalyptus.”  She is so irreverent (Anne, not Wimbo), talking about her hatred, literally, of the Republican party.  But its her honesty that makes her so easy to relate to and such a joy to read.  She talks about her love/hate relationship with her body.  She writes about trying to do well but failing most of the time.  She is self-deprecating in a way that makes you, as the reader, feel normal.  Grace is always the theme of her books.

Usually, she’s fairly light-hearted in her story-telling, even as she shares about God and her faith.  Every now and then, though, she has this heavy wisdom that smacks you in between the eyes.

Last night, I read the second to last chapter in Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.  In it, she shares with the reader the advice she usually reserves for graduates when she is asked to give a commencement speech.  Its not your typical, Go get ’em tigers, message.  Instead of run in the rat race and shoot for your dreams and try your best to succeed, she says get to know yourself.  She says that, as a successful writer, she’s reached her dreams, but that hole inside of her has not been suddenly filled up now that she has arrived.  So, her advice is rest and pray and enjoy life.  Okay, so you have to pay your bills.  And, hopefully you can do that by working at a job that you love.  But, her point is that getting that dream job is not what’s going to make you happy.

Her message is very applicable to us.  Gregg sold his chickens.  I was disappointing and sad about it, but he felt relieved.  Day after day, he was watching their numbers decline due to the foxes and hawks and whatever else.  He says that he was over-eager.  He was so ready to get started working with animals, but he didn’t really have a plan.  Oops.  To his credit, he didn’t really know what the plan needed to be.  So, what now?  Quit?  Go home?  Pack up and move back to Knoxville?  We’ve thought about it, but no.  We’re sticking it out here.  He’s got more to learn, A LOT more to learn.  And, more and more, I think that learning is the point of all this.  Making money is not the point.  Hopefully that will come eventually, learning how to make money from farming.  But, now, and maybe for awhile.  The point is how to plan and care for animals and get something in return (eggs, wool, milk, meat, whatever).

So, we are (probably) moving, but not out of town.  We are going to move to a farmhouse on the Eastern Shore.  Ugh.  Moving again.  This makes house #4(!!) for us since we’ve been married.  I can’t wait to show some pictures of the house.  Its got wallpaper in the hallways which I kind of love, but then the carpet is just ridiculous.  It has swirlies on it.  And I think there’s hardwood under it!  Oh well.  The reason we are strongly considering the move has nothing to do with the wallpaper or carpet.  Gregg needs to live with his animals.  With the chickens, he had a fifteen minute drive every morning and evening, and then he wasn’t there with them during the day to protect them and all of that.  About an acre or two of land comes with the farmhouse.  On the land is a fence, a barn, a shed, a grain storage bin.  All the things a farmless farmer needs to become an actual farmer.  And all these things are already in place, ready for Gregg.

Last week Gregg received 321 chickens in the mail. Unfortunately, some of them have died.  (They trampled each other.)  But, as survival of the fittest continues to prove true, many of them are alive and strong and chirping away in our shed.  Gregg has set up heat lamps to keep them warm, and they have mason jar watering concoctions set up to quench their thirst.  They also have some kind of chicken feed to eat.  Life is good for the baby chicks.  Now, we only have to wait 3, 4, or 5 months, and they will start laying colorful eggs for us (and other willing Eastern Shore residents) to eat.

During the trampling, Gregg created an “Infirmary” for the baby chicks.  I volunteered to/Gregg made me help pull out the weaklings and sicklings from the heap of healthy chicks and into the “Infirmary.”  Good thing I’m a nurse.  This is the first time that my feet have been covered with bird feces from helping the sick.  It may not be the last.

Read more here:

Farmer Gregg

Farmer Gregg to the Rescue

Infirmary

Cutie Chick