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April's Storm 2007

Hope runs backwards on this farm today. Oh, were it only to stay. Fed on old dreams, dreams partially realized, somewhat tarnished, and yet, this glorious morning, oh too willing to be polished to a gleam in which one can see one's own face. Snow is thick and deep and hard crusted, only to melt with each passing moment. The slow drip of icicles begins to hasten.

It is the second full day of spring. The rooster's crow. Glencora MacCluskie, dog, only recently a puppy, digs in a snow bank. The sun shines. It is all of 40 degrees this morning. There are two coffee cups beside me. The solution to a forever problem. The second cup of coffee. Teddy Roosevelt had the same quandary. He knew and I agree that the second cup is never as good as the first. And so, he had a handle put on the soup bowls in the Harvard Club. They now serve coffee in those enormous "cups". No need for a second disappointing one. The question is how does it stay hot? I am loath to run back into the house when my first cup of cappuccino is empty to make another one. But one cup doesn't do it. Today, I made two, very hot, to take outside with me. Therein may be the answer.

When I first came here I had two curved window seats made for my small front porch. My grandson's mother bought me an engagingly charming Italian made cappuccino machine called an Atomic. I'd steam the milk with all of the attendant sputtering, add some strongly brewed American coffee and sprinkle the top with powdered espresso. I'd then take it outside, sit on the window seat and look out onto winter. Heart and mind full of dreams for this house. The farm hadn't been thought of yet. I wanted to enclose the porch and found two sets of windows from an old school that I had framed to be installed every winter, only to be removed each spring. A door has never been made. That remains to be on the list. It would be heaven. I'd have a miniature greenhouse of sorts. Even a nicer place to have morning coffee and greet the day. I've not taken coffee here very often of late. Small pleasures abandoned. Or my rights to them compromised by failures real or perceived. But I sit here in the sun. I'm tempted by the sound of the phone, and punctuated by the roosters calling to one another from the carriage house to the porch where I sit. The once new fresh dreams are partially realized, somewhat shabby, and, in a few instances, quite worn through. Lists have come, and been crossed off and rewritten, and now, need to be written again. How long is it reasonable to expect my curtains to last? A sheep to live? And my belief that by putting one foot in front of the other, all shall one day be polished, and in good repair? But the beautiful chintz curtains in the living room are beginning to fray. The hooks no longer fit. The fabric is far too worn for them to be reinserted. But the real question this early spring morning is am I becoming too worn as well. The question is....

Four Days Later

Small miracles gratefully received. My six little kid goats were disbudded today. In other words, their little horns have been removed. Hopefully to never grow back again. The mother of the triplets uses her horns too well. I am wary of them as tame as Lucinda pretends to be. Some of her three doelings shall remain. Whoever milks as well as her dam, I want to milk only six. That means the two Toggenburgs and the one Nubian who are already here. But Adelaide Merriman's twin doelings are beautiful as well. And Lucinda's daughter from last year, the doeling with the broken leg, is due any minute. Oh, oh, oh. Candida Lucett Green, Nubian goat, beautiful, is also due.

I had some help capturing and holding the kids today. And in that, discovered another miracle, a small miracle, but a miracle nonetheless. Apparently, the fifteen year old boy who came to watch the vet also has some carpentry skills! And proceeded to rebuild the carriage house door latch that I've wanted to be rebuilt for months. I was prepared to pay a "real" carpenter to do it if I could find one. Young Alex made it in 15 minutes. He repaired a couple of other things as well. Amazing what gives me a lift. The donkey had been getting out of the carriage house and the goats were getting into the carriage house. It was all I could do to manage to open the door with my arms full of baleage or two gallons of milk replacer. Young Alex was trained in carpentry skills in Boy Scout Camp. And I am profoundly grateful.

My friend Rosie suggested that I make a plan for the farm. Not a series of lists, but a plan of what to do here to "be smart" and make things function best for me. I thought, at first, that the plan would have to be comprised of what I can do alone because there isn't enough money to spare for anyone to help me. But with the realization that the wonder of wonders, young Alex has carpentry skills in addition to being a good and improving help on the farm, life suddenly seems possible once again. Amazing how little it takes! Of course, getting a call that someone wants a starter flock of four ewe lambs helps as well. The money to pay this young man! When I realized I had an incipient carpenter in training here, suddenly it became possible to build the pens in the carriage house that I need for young stock next fall. And, and, and.

What also suddenly came to mind was something to delight the eye as well. I've been wanting, for ten yeas or so, a bench made from the curved fronts of three old drawers that turned up here one day. It may be possible that this young man can build it for me to put in the carriage house.

The plan, it would seem, according to Rosie, one of the plans, could be to make the carriage house what I need it to be. And to take steps, regularly, daily, if possible, to make it happen. While waiting for the vet, I cleared the lovely little desk and tiny office Brett Miller made for me, three years ago. I swept the goat droppings and dust that had fallen through the stairs above and put them as mulch around the black currant bushes. (Another old dream of mine). And moved all the goats who were not Lucinda to a separate pen, and the kids to the pen with the bottle lambs. Had the missing slide on the door rebuilt, and made tiny improvements.

After the kid goats were disbudded I took them, still unconscious, from the anesthesia into the living room to keep them safe. About seven o'clock I saw that Gillian and Arianna were not responsive. Arianna's breath was shallow. She was sleeping far too deeply. I kept an eye on her. She didn't wake up. I called the vet. By eight o'clock I tubed both doelings with a mixture of corn syrup, and instant espresso coffee mixed with milk replacer. Wrapped them in sweaters, put them on a cardboard box surrounded by stoneware jars filled with hot water. Their temperatures were too low to register on the thermometer. The vet called, and said I was "doing the right thing." By eleven thirty, Gillian's temperature registered 94 degrees. Better. Arianna's was still off the scale. I Nutridrenched her, she hated it. A good sign. At midnight I picked her up and sat with her in my arms. She snuggled down next to me. Her temperature still was off the scale. Eight hours after she had been disbudded. No good. She is the smallest, the noisiest, the most vocal of the lambs. She always has to be fed separately. She is enchanting. I thought I'd lose her. If need be I'd sleep with her next to me to keep her warm, I thought. The kitchen was beautifully warm, however, it wouldn't stay that way. Wood fires. At 12:30 a.m. her temperature rose from below 90 degrees to 96.4. She would live. Thank God! I went to bed at 1:30 in the morning. The kid goats lined up by the wood stove in the kitchen. My puppy Glencora MacCluskie and my cat Peabody in bed with me. Small miracles all.

I have been blessed with abundance in this life. I lack where with all, I always have. But the rich abundance of the life here amazes me when I can take a moment to see it. All of it.

Sylvia Jorrín

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