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I’m not sure how much time we’ll be spending in here, especially at first. But…it has been a good experience to decorate a space just for Graham. The look for the nursery is vintage (thrift store/Goodwill) meets rustic (handmade) meets Pinterest (I wish)! Its a semi-farm theme. Blues, burlap, and white, with flashes of red. (I wanted more flashes of red, but oh well).
We have felt so loved and taken care of during this entire pregnancy. I had my third baby shower at work last week. I haven’t returned/exchanged a single thing that I’ve received as a gift. I’ve loved everything and received duplicates of nothing. And…we have pretty much every single that we need. So thankful.
I’ve been lovingly militant (Gregg’s word, not mine) about washing all the new outfits and blankets that we’ve received for Graham. I’ve washed everything as instructed, so it will be be ready for him when we gets here. What did I find when unloading his goodies from the washer to the dryer this weekend? A dead mouse. Decomposing. With my baby’s clothes. Pout face. I’d been so careful about washing his clothes, and then I run them through the washer with a dead mouse. Go figure. Don’t worry, I re-washed them. He’ll have a very healthy immune system from farm-living.
Gregg got to witness the birth of Baby sheep #2 this week. She’s not the jet black beauty of Baby sheep #1. She’s a girl, so that’s why Gregg decided to name both of these little lambs. Hopefully the next lamb will be a boy (we won’t be naming him) and that he’ll be able to provide us with some yummy meant in the Fall/Winter. Its still a little disturbing to think about eating these animals that are grazing in our backyard. But, I guess that’s the point right? To know where your food comes from? Its very close to home though…literally.
P.S. Our big white dog that didn’t have heart disease passed away last week. The vets never found out what was making her sick, and she kept getting worse. So, bad news afterall.
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.
A BFF came to see me this weekend. What a treat! Gregg made us pizza on Friday night. Sam (her 16 month old) got to run around with the dogs, cats, and sheep. Did I mention our (hopefully) pregnant sheep are finally living with us? We also roamed around a town yard sale on Saturday. That’s right, a whole town came out to sell their stuff in a yard sale. We racked up. I got a necklace, a pile of lace for crafting, some Christmas ornaments, and a leopard print coat for a six month old girl(I have a hunch okay). [Comment on animal print: I never have worn animal print except for a snakeskin tube top I owned in high school. Was that even me? Not sure. Animal print is just not my thing, but on a little girl? Come on, that’s going to be adorable. Gregg was not a fan.] I didn’t pay more than $2 for anything (better than Goodwill!). E, Jeff, and Sam got an array of classic boardgames.
The best thing about this weekend was being known. Even for just 24 hours, I had friend in my house who has known me since I was three years old. (Wow.) We knew each other as little kids in preschool, as Freshman year roommates, as newly married friends, and, now, as moms and moms-to-be. So, so thankful. These kind of friendships are rare. My college friendships are rare, because they are lasting. They have a future and a past. I heard that the average friendship only lasts 6 years.
Meeting friends on the Eastern Shore, we’re starting right where we are, in the present, that is. There’s no past. Only a now and a future. In a place where people already have long-standing friendships with handfuls of people, nobody really feels like they need a new friend. They’re all lived here their whole lives, or so it seems.
This brings me to my resolution. I want to be welcoming to new people in the future. This resolution is stemming from our experience here so far. It seems like our friendships are two steps forward and one step back.
After getting settled in my community (in college, in San Francisco, in Knoxville), I have been pretty hesitant to reach out to new people. Small talk is hard and exhausting. But making people feel welcome is really important.
I prayed for a friend this weekend, after E left, and God began to answer me. At Sunday school, the girls were really excited that I was pregnant. Its fun to connect with people over an unborn baby. Its like insta-connection.
We survived Hurricane Sandy pretty much without a hitch. On Thursday, when they were describing the Perfect Storm headed our way, Gregg was ready to race off to TN (his mom offered us a place to stay) with me, two dogs, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. “Really?” I was thinking. “Is it going to be that bad?” Well, the answer: yes and no. I have lived on the coast before, but in San Francisco, everyone is much more worried about earthquakes than hurricanes. We weren’t sure quite how to handle this type of weather. Leave? Stay? Board up the windows? Gregg and I started to text and call friends that also live on the Shore. There was a wide variety of panic and non-panic. One guy that’s lived on the Shore for a lifetime responded to Gregg’s text of “Leaving or staying?” with a nonchalant “Staying.”
The wind was blowing so fast that I got out of a couple days of work. I didn’t want to take my chances being blown off the bridge and into the bay.
We couldn’t have had a better storm experience to be honest: knitting, reading, cuddling with animals, and watching lots of tv and weather reporting. We didn’t lose power. No trees fell into the yard or onto our house. And, it being a rental property, the stress of something happening to my house just wasn’t there. So often, I love the lack of responsibility that comes with renting.
To show our hurricane inexperience/non expertise just a bit more…Last night after the storm had blown over Gregg says, “Maybe I should put down/put up (however you say it) the storm windows.” Nice
We’ve got sheep. Three of them. We don’t actually have them yet, but they have been purchased and wrangled from their former homestead. Currently, they are living with our friends’ sheep. We’re hoping that our sheep will mate with our friends’ ram before the weather gets too cold. Surely they can still mate in the cold, but, for some season, now’s the time for mating.
We also still have some chickens. They aren’t living with us right now either, since they would get eaten. There’s no protection in the openness of the farm. So, for protection, Gregg might actually get a Great Pyrenees. These dogs have been bred to (get this) protect sheep and chickens. As much as I don’t want another dog, I don’t want Gregg’s sheep and chickens to be another wild animals’ prey.
We do have a small autumnal (like that word?) garden with some leafy greens growing in it. Each year, I’m hoping we produce more and more food from our own (rented) land. With a bigger garden next year, we’ll have more to eat in the summer and maybe even be able to can/freeze some goodies for the fall and winter. I’ve been happy (and jealous) to see Instagram photos of friends doing the same thing with the produce from their own gardens. We’ve learning that produce grows quicker than meat is produced. Duh. It’ll be nice to produce something on our land, since we won’t be eating lamb for at least a year from now. Even the chickens won’t really be good egg-layers until next year.
Our friends with the sheep (okay, their names and Robert and Jen) got wind of a free Holstein (super good dairy cow) that a family in the area is looking to get rid of. A cow, for free. Gregg really wants fresh milk (so do I), but he doesn’t want the responsibility of milking it twice a day (I don’t either). Lazy…but understandable for two suburban kids. I’m not sure what the latest is on the cow, Gregg mentioned it to me early this week. I’m not sure if we would keep it at our place or if our friends would keep it at theirs. Don’t know. My non-reliable google search tells that such cows will produce anywhere from 5 to 20(!) gallons per day. We would need to share the wealth.
A friend asked me how Gregg’s farming was going. Slow. I guess that’s why they call the organic/local movement the Slow Food Movement. Like I mentioned, we might have lamb to eat next Fall, if everything goes as planned, which it may not. Farming is the slowest of learning processes, because sometimes you don’t know if you’ve made a mistake until months after the initial bad decision was made. But we’re still learning. Slowly.
I hope its all worth for us. For Gregg to do what he loves (and actually love it, not just the idea of it). I’m definitely guilty of liking the idea more than the reality. For us to eat what we grow and raise. For us to know exactly where our food is coming from and what went into growing it/raising it. I think that will be worth it.
I want to write about this process and talk about it, but we don’t have a lot to really show for ourselves yet. No meat. No eggs. A small amount of produce. We’re getting there though. Gregg’s getting there, I’m trying my hardest to be his cheerleader. Its just the slowest cheer I’ve ever done.
Well, there’s raised bed gardening and square foot gardening (I think these are basically the same thing). I’m experimenting with a different kind of gardening. Potted plants on your porch gardening. My gardening partner is busier than expected (two of her kids are getting married this summer), so the garden that was going to go in her backyard is on hold. Our yard is as shady as ever, with the best sun showing up on our porch. Also, I’ve heard horror stories of deer and rabbits eating all the garden’s produce, and I’m hoping that deer won’t come up to our house to nibble our goodies. Mildred, the gardening mentor, has two fences around her garden along with rattling plastic bags to scare off the predators. So, the porch it is. As of now, I’ve got a variety of herbs (sage, cilantro, parsley, chives, lavender) and some flowers. I’m growing basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash from seed. Now, I know that its silly of me to think that squash will do well in a pot. In my defense, at the time of planting my seedlings I thought some of the seedlings might actually go into the ground as opposed to pots. I’m not sure what to do with the squash seedlings now. Yesterday I kept asking Gregg if the pots that I have are big enough and if tomatoes, cukes, and bell peppers will do well in them. Do you ever ask a question just to get an answer you are looking for? Yes, the pots are big enough. Yes, the veggies will do great in them. I think I’ll have to get some bigger pots and then keep my fingers crossed that they’ll grow well in them. When I see the teeny tiny seedlings, I forget that they are going to grow up and up and up, and I forget that there are root systems growing underneath the soil that need plenty of space to do their thing.
I was feeling down about my seedlings, since some of them were getting “leggy,” as Gregg says. But, I’m happy to say that since they’ve been nestled onto the porch and out of the sunroom they have really started to take off. I do have couple of concerns. The wind really picks up on the back of our porch, so I get worried that they’ll get too windblown. Also, I want the porch garden to look pretty, but, as of now, it doesn’t. Its a mishmash of old pots that I found in our shed squeezed onto the sunny corner of our porch. Its not Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living. Maybe they do look pretty in their own way. I’m not sure what magazine would feature them, maybe something like Work with What You’ve Got.
But, I’m in luck. A gardening guru is coming our way this weekend. My father-in-law Phil spends his evenings and weekends tending to his flock of plants. I’m hoping he’ll be able to give me some pointers.
I was talking to a friend about Gregg’s chickens the other day. I was telling her that its going to be difficult to go out of town this summer (or ever). We’ll have to find someone to babysit the chickens while we’re gone. Babysitting these chickens involves scheduling your day according to the sun. At (or at least near) sunrise, the chickens need to be let out of their coop, fed, and watered. At sundown, the chickens need to be fed and watered again, and they need to be rounded up back into their coop for safe-keeping during the night. (It will also involve collecting eggs in about two to three months. I can’t wait for this part!) This rounding up business is not as easy as it sounds. Gregg finally figured out that if he pours the chicken food directly into their coop, this is the best way to get them where they need to go. Herding chickens. I helped him herd once. It wasn’t pretty. Largely because we didn’t have any food to herd them with. Also, the herding beam more like me chasing, and them running in the opposite direction of where I wanted them to go. Also, Gregg and I both had ideas of how we should be herding, and I thought my idea was better than his and vice versa. You know how those conversations go. Now, when I go with him to take care of the chickens, I just sit back and knit or read. Its better this way, and he’s such a good chicken-herder now, he doesn’t need help.
So, when I told my friend about the chickens, she laughed. Not in a a cruel way at all, just in a oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-believe-you-have-so-many-chickens way. She laughed because the idea of having chickens is funny to people. Its not the norm. The fact that my husband is a chicken farmer has become normal to me. I forget that its out of the ordinary for your life and time to be affected by 200 birds.
Maybe I should put out a want-ad for this chicken-sitter.
Something more like this:
Must love eggs, birds, sunrises, sunsets. Must be able to scare off foxes, dogs, hawks, and other birds of prey. Must be immune to frustration that inevitably comes with chicken herding.