The Dog Days of Summer

August 29, 2018

Angel & Zoey, the dogs of summer

Since my last post in late winter so much has changed. When you live on a farm with animals that seems to be the norm and in my case it is no exception. Just as the seasons transition so does life, and on a farm that cycle seems to be sped up.

RIP Sherman

You may remember Sherman, our beloved elder sheep, whom we adopted from the previous owners of our property.  We only had his new girlfriend, Opal, for a couple of months when Sherman’s health started to take a turn for the worst. I would come out the pasture to find him down on his side not able to get up.  I would lift him to his feet and he would stumble for a moment and then continue grazing. It might sound silly, but I believe he was grateful. We had a special relationship.  Sadly, that relationship ended one chilly late winter morning when I came out the barn to find him on the ground near the doorway, unable to get up.  I helped him up once again but when I came back with his breakfast he was on the ground again. There was something different this time. He made no effort to get up and he never did.  He died with his head in my lap, with me assuring him it was ok to go. Just writing this brings me to tears because I still miss his soulful gaze and his excitement for a piece of kale.

Opal’s new friends

To add salt to my wounded heart, for days after Sherman passed I would look out to see Opal laying on the grave in the pasture where we had buried him. I knew I needed to find Opal another companion.  It’s not easy to find one sheep since they are herd animals so many are bonded to the others in their herd.  The search began. We visited this quirky flock at Pasado’s Safe Haven and fell in love with them (If you haven’t heard of Pasado’s you can read their story here ). But there were 7 of them! We continued to look for a smaller group (because who adopts 7 sheep?) but I kept coming back to these guys.  After much deliberation, in early spring we welcomed Clarence, Chloe, Abby, Lucy, Oscar, Angus and Lady BaaBaa to our farm. There is something so incredibly peaceful about looking out onto a pasture with a flock of sheep grazing. That is unless they are being chased by our little donkeys….sigh.

Mama Penny and chicks

We also welcomed a few (ok, 17) new chicks to the farm this spring. It has been so fun watching the mama hens raise their young, and much easier than the brooder chicks I raised! With hatching chicks comes roosters, but we have been fortunate to have found good homes for them where they will have their own flock. Sadly, we lost our oldest duck, that also came with our property, just a few weeks ago to what we believe to be an eagle.  Farm life definitely has its ups and downs, but we take the good with the bad and move forward.

The new garden

We expanded the vegetable garden and this year’s harvest has (mostly) been a success growing tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, squash, kale, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, potatoes, onions, artichokes, green and yellow beans and corn. We also have a few fruit trees on the property including a fig, apples and pears, several blueberries, and a goji berry which is delicious. We eat from the garden daily and have plenty to share with family and friends.

Summer harvest

So as the dog days of summer come to end I find myself questioning what is next.  Just as spring brings anticipation and a new season of possibilities, as we wrap up summer and enter into fall I feel it is the time to begin to reflect on what worked, both on the farm and in my life, and what did not.  What will I do differently and what will life look like a year from now? What is really important and what does not matter so much? Where can I lighten the load and where should I focus more energy?

I definitely feel myself being pulled into helping animals more and somehow integrating that into what I do.  I am also focusing more on health, healing and self-care and working on ways to make that part of my daily life in a bigger way than it has been in the past. This is something I believe almost every one of us can improve on and spending time in our gardens is something that is so easy to do and incredibly beneficial for our mental and physical well-being.  What that looks like for each one of us is different but I think what matters is that we stop and notice our surroundings- the butterflies and the bees, the sounds of the birds, the plants as they change from season to season and even how people in our life come and go.  There are so many lessons to be learned from life, mother nature and the change of the seasons, but we have to be open and observant enough to see them.

Until next time,

Heidi

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