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May 2004

May is the sweet time on the farm. The winter born lambs who are to a stay dance and leap into the air in the pastures. Joy is everywhere for them. Their mothers run and jump as well the moment the barn door is opened, late mornings, to allow them all to race across the brook, and taste whatever is on the other side that has grown over night.

Even last year's hay, fed out nights to entice them back to the barn, is greener, "First in last out" is the old adage. Early cut hay, last May's, is still green, preserved from light and weather in the bottom reaches of the haymow. It is the hard time here as well. The ewes who suffered in the winter due to old age or arduous births or even nursing too many lambs will begin to show evidence of weakness. One or two will die before shearing. Last year we sheared in April, still too cold in these mountains. And I lost a ewe to pneumonia. This year I've waited. We shall shear in the middle of May.

But the weather has turned cold and there are fires in both the living room and the kitchen wood stove. There is something about a fire in the fireplace, roaring and drying the damp brought by the spring rains, and having the new French doors in the living room wide open to let in the clean air and let winter out of the house that I love so much. And thousands of them are newly visible in the long perennial border through the open French doors.

Marvy Chapman, the indomitable yearling that has taken over my garden, yards, and house if she could, has discovered those doors. She can see from the lawn (to where she escapes from the pasture on a regular basis), the pale green armchair where I used to sit, holding her in my arms when she was a week or two old, a bottle lamb, and decided to not even consider the broad day lily border or the dismantled porch in front of the doors as obstacles. She just barged right in, a day or two ago, her young son, a three month old lamb, in tow. What she didn't expect was that both the living room and kitchen inner doors would be closed. Shut. Oh, Marvy has come as close to knowing how to turn a doorknob with her mouth as any sheep who has ever lived here, But she's never mastered the art of popping the door latch at the same time to cause the door to open. She's stood, her half sisters lined up expectantly behind her in the mudroom, mouth around the white porcelain doorknob, trying hard enough. But she never quite could do it, And so, after knocking over the garbage can in the kitchen, effectively blocking my way into the house, and dumping a box of books off of the window seat in the living room, in front of it's main door, making it nearly impossible for me to gain entry, she made her exit through the French doors.

I suspect jumping out was more scary than scrambling in, because from the living room she would look down into the formidable hole where the flour of the porch had been rather than looking up and beyond it to the room from a position in my flower bed.

Marvey Chapman shall live out her life on the farm. And so shall her son. He is a fine little thing, showing signs of his mother's ambition and intelligence, may he not also share her domineering personality. My admiration and respect for Marvey, and my wish to preserve some of the healthy, intelligent, prolific genes that she possesses, and the tenderness in my heart all conspire to encourage me to not breakup the pair. I've been known to make some emotional decisions on the farm. This is clearly one of them

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