Thursday, April 21, 2011

Farming~ the romance and the reality

      Warning: this is a long, not informative, sorta personal reflective post, you can just skip down to the fun part (the video) if you prefer  : )
    I have never considered myself a "gentlewoman" farmer. Over the nearly 30 years that I have been raising sheep, goats mules, donkeys and angora rabbits, I have tried to put practicality first. If a critter didn't "lay eggs, make meat, grow hair or protect against predators" I have been disciplined about not bringing it home.
After all, the first goal is not to lose money. Especially when my children where young, that would have been like taking food out of their mouths. I think that is the definition of gentlemen or hobby farmer, you can afford to lose money, and farming is all about losing money.
             My second goal was to do the best by my animals, loving and caring for them to the best of my ability within my resources, and this has not always been easy, and I ended up sacrificing perfectly good knitting and spinning time trying to tend to the health and happiness of the animals.
         The third goal was to profit from this work and care in terms of feeding the family, enjoying the fiber, utizing the manure for the gardens, and if possible, maybe make a little money.
              Well, right off, let me just say I have just about broke even when it is all said and done, but I have learned a lot, had joys and disspointments and had to be ever vigilant and ever disciplined.  Sometimes the freedom of travel or the apartment life fleetingly is appealing, but it is gone with the first garden produce of the year, or the first lamb born.
            As I advance in years,I am finding that keeping up with making the spindles and tools, trying to make a living, trying to garden for food and find time to still knit and spin and weave (much less blog) just leaves less time for the animals. So this winter and spring I have downsized the livestock part of the farm considerably, and am enjoying the remaining sheep and rabbits more.
      Will I have more time to blog? not sure about that...I was up in the woods above the pasture yesterday on my way to the spindle shop and had the most interesting idea for a spindle can't be on the computer when you have an idea burning a hole in your head....
Edwina had triplet lambs this year, so of course I had to make a lamb video.

 The three have such strikingly different personalities. Estella is the exuberient one in the video, she is even an exuberient eater. She has more white on her than the others, is more curious and the most bossy. Eloise is the somewhat shy lamb, when she is not playing with her sister, she stays close to her mother. Their brother Edward, the runt, was, from the beginning, a dreamer. He likes to spend quiet time alone, watching the wind blow in the trees, eating leisurely off away from the rest, exploring little areas. He had to have a bottle supplement for a while to get him up to speed, and he will probably always be a small whether, but his fleece is lovely and his health is good. Now that is more info than anyone wants to read, but there you have it!


  1. Wonderful video!

    You really captured their individual personalities...Estella just makes me smile! I'm sure she will have a gorgeous fleece! (and lucky you, to be able to compare the fleece!)

  2. I enjoyed reading the post. It is always interesting to learn how a 'friend' feels about their life & gooals. & the video is an added +.

  3. Thank you Sheryl for you encouragement.
    Cyndy, Estella's fleece is finer, softer and with a more spongey crimp than the other two, their's is more in locks with a wavy crimp.
    It really will be interesting to see how they wash up and how much difference there is to spinning them.

  4. Cady May,
    I loved reading this post and hearing your thoughts. The bookend to your musings is Jenna's blog at here who is youger woman just starting out in her own farming adventure.

    Thanks so much for the lamb video. It is such fun to watch lambs gamboling about. That word "gambol" was surely made just for new lambs.

    Happy Easter!

  5. Hey Valerie,
    Thanks for visiting, and sharing the link to Jenna's blog. I can realy relate, I would give up everything else before I could give up growing food...old habits never die. Funny, I just typed "dye"
    now isn't that an old habit, too! : )


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