There is a deer who has lived this day by the beaver pond, quite visible to me, calm, graceful, moving slowly in between the dark green rushes. It surprised me. I've not seen deer on the side hill in some time. And probably would not have had I not been lost at work in the triangular vegetable garden.
That, in itself, was a second surprise. I thought to begin to clear the ground under the new currant and Jostaberry bushes. Some of them. By the time I had stopped digging I had found two or three more surviving from last year, the year of the drought. And two or three more that were overgrown of the twenty that were planted this year. I want a hundred. And have a total of about thirty-five. All but four are small.
I've not been able to garden this year until today. It made me feel myself again. I continued to dig beyond the edges of the small bushes. And began to plan where the seeds are to be planted. Soldier beans to dry this winter at the apex of the triangle. Radicchio and black radishes in between the berry bushes. And winter squash from France in the middle section. And and.
The deer disappeared only to manifest across the brook once more near the end of the day. The most obnoxious daughter of the Horned Dorset ewe turned up on the lawn. Again. She flies like a deer over the all fences. And races like the wind when she thinks I am not watching her. Here again. There again. Then gone again. She is sometimes accompanied by three or four other sheep. Or rather lambs. And is always accompanied by a Toggenburg doeling. They both race like the wind. Together. The doeling is occasionally tempted to come to me. She can be tamed, I'm certain, were she not quite so attached to the valiant, adventurous shearing whose mother has been penned in the upper level of the barn for the summer. She has been known to race as well. And leaps with astonishing grace for an animal her size over all barriers erected on this farm. What have I done to deserve these two.
June 18, 2006
The little lamb cried for his mother. She didn't answer. She is a yearling and new to the business of parenting. I saw her, a great distance away from him. Her bag was full. She hadn't nursed in awhile. He saw me and ran away from me. After all he remembered me as the strange two legged creature that I am, grabbing him, when he lived in the lambing room where he was first born, only to stick a bottle of milk into his mouth. Oh, he drank it all right, but ran away from me immediately. Like the wind. As did his mother. Always.
Who was she? Why was she so tentative around me? Why didn't I know her? And so, tonight, I was not surprised when she hid from me behind the larger sheep. And let him cry up on the little hill. He also knew how to hide being a big fluffy unshorn ewe, thinking I would not see him. I did. Reached out to catch him and missed.
I am a farmer. And as a farmer I am also a shepherd. It is my job to see that the lamb is fed. The last thing I felt like doing was to go back to the house and mix a bottle, then return to the pasture only to chase down the lamb, and, if I succeed in catching it, give it a bottle. It has eight acres in which to run away from me. And it could.
This evening is one of those rare exquisite ones that follows a rain pelted afternoon. The tree leaves gleamed. The grass shone. Shadows from the great stone walls hung black at the edge of the pastures. The sheep moved quietly through the low, sweet raw growth. I didn't want to alter the moment. It was precious to me. A rare and perfect stillness. I wanted to stay with the flock. Evening. It is my greatest pleasure. And so I went back to the house. Got the milk. And some BlueKote for a lamb whose ear I noticed was bleeding. And returned to the pasture. My puppy, Glencora, came too. A training lesson for us both. She is leaning to stay behind the fence as I spend time with the sheep. I listened. The flock was silent. A black ewe stood in a cluster next to a few sheep. One lay on the ground. The mother of the tiny lamb. And he was curled up next to her.
June 19, 2006
Sheep come home at night. Sheep come home at night as the sky becomes a mirror and the silence is punctuated by the sound of a lamb calling to its mother. I can see only a small patch of the cow path from the dining room window, and watch the flock, single file as they walk back to the barn. A thick white mist appears from nowhere to cover the North pasture. It arrived in between words I've written on this page, and now has lifted to be closer to the sky. I wait for the stars to appear. It is nearly time. There are no longer sheep to be seen from the window. The ones across the brook in Wuthering Heights are hidden by trees and massive stone walls. I went to visit them this morning. They let me sit with them. Except for the lambs who are wary of me. The mist has become blue. It has fallen from the sky to once again touch the pasture. The hills surrounding this house have disappeared. The evening star has appeared. Night has fallen.
June 21, 2006
The four kid goats living in the carriage house have decided to accept me. A miracle. They were born, when I was in the hospital, to a mother and a daughter, a set of twins apiece, and so are aunts and an uncle, nieces and a nephew to one another. That means they are two months old. Time to be weaned. Had I been home when they arrived, I would have bottled them right away so they would be tame to me rather than bonded to their mother. But that couldn't happen. And so they were wild around humans, especially around the enormous intruder this self-same shepherd, herds woman, whom they have rarely ever seen.
One tiny kid goat, Miss Merriman, daughter of Mrs. Merriman, and therefore an aunt and great aunt to these four, is, by nature, tame. She was raised in the barn proper, and was bottled, as her mother could raise neither her nor her brother. He was sold. She remained. And now has resumed being bottle fed, at least beginning a week or two after I returned home. She is a lovely little creature, while not bearing the Toggenburg markings I like so well, is enchanting in her own way. I've been putting the two mothers, Honey Merriman and Adelaide Merriman out to graze the burdock on both the back lawn and the one behind the carriage house. The kids and an older sister have been left all day in the carriage house. I've been going in from time to time, and sitting on a manger, letting them look at me. They stand, in a wide circle, at a respectable distance, staring at me. And don't approach. Even a bucket of grain held in my hand hasn't lured them.
Today I put the little bottle goat in with them. She followed me around. They followed her. When they saw the bottle they came almost to within an approachable distance. And yet would not touch my hand. I waited. As quiet in my mind that I could make myself. They didn't come close enough to touch me. Later, I brought a pail of grain to the carriage house. Sat on the edge of the manger. Filled both hands with grain and waited. Within moments, all five were eating from my hands. A nibble. Then heads up to stare into my face. And then another nibble. They have decided to be tame.
The Summer Solstice
Sheep come home at night as the sky becomes a mirror and the silence is punctuated by the sound of a lamb calling to its mother. I can see only a small patch of the cow path from the dining room window and watch the flock, single file, as they walk back to the barn. A thick white mist appears from nowhere to cover the north pasture. It arrived in between words I've written on this paper, and now has lifted to be closer to the sky. I wait for stars to appear. It is nearly time. There are no sheep in view from this window. The ones in Wuthering Heights across the brook are hidden by trees and stone walls. I went to visit them this morning. They let me sit with them. Except for the lambs who are wary of me. The mist has become blue. It has fallen from the sky to touch the pasture. The hills surrounding this house have disappeared. The evening star has appeared. Night has fallen
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