I noticed a spice to the night air as I left the barn. Almost like cinnamon but not quite. I silently thanked the Lord for the blessing of that scented air, practicing thankfulness despite of the grumbling voice inside the back of my head somewhere that complained about the biting chill.
It’s nearly the middle of May and it’s been unusually cool for us in central Washington. Inside the barn I had given the last bottle of milk to the two orphaned goat kids, and put up the milkers separate from their kids so I could have the morning milk for our family. The chores had all been done around five o’clock, three hours earlier, but these last few things I call putting the barn to bed. I tuck them all in so-to-speak. Give every animal the once over, checking for signs of illness or injury after being out on the ten acres of pasture all day. I always check to make sure the Icelandic sheep have come up into the corral for the night. Our Maremma livestock guardian dog will keep a close eye on everything, but it still makes me feel better to know the sheep are all locked up safely for the night. Last night there was a large owl flying over the chicken house for awhile. Regal, our LGD would make short work of the bird if she thought it had access and could do any damage, but the chickens, like the sheep and dairy goats, are all snug and safe, roosting for the night in their henhouse.
Before leaving the barn I took grain into the stall and turnout pen I keep my two East Friesian ewe lambs in. They aren’t tame yet, I’ve had them for a short time, and as I want to milk them next year, I’m doing my best to win their trust and affection. If a sheep doesn’t love you it hates you. If she loves you, you’ve never had a better cuddle buddy. My daily routine always includes bringing those two girls treats so I can scratch them a bit and get them to know me and my voice. In the book of John, Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
I take the words to heart as I try to get to know my sheep and let them know me.
I’m sitting at the dining room table now, with my MacBook and decaf tea to warm up from my last trip to the barn. I’ve sweetened the tea with coconut sugar and added some fresh raw goat milk. Our youngest son is dozing off in our bed, on my husband’s side. My husband is a paramedic and like every firefighter/medic wife, I’m used to his side of the bed being empty often. I’m smarter than some, I fill that side with a child to snuggle with and don’t feel so lonely. My days are filled with chores and my interests and my children. It’s busy and sweet. Living in the country was a childhood wish, and God answered my prayers, because here I am, on a ranch. With horses. Horses that any princess would dream of riding. Flashy, pretty horses.
I love to sit in my living room in the mornings with a sheep or goat milk cappuccino, my Bible and a view of green hills, Cowiche mountain, and pastures all around dotted with horses. I’m deeply content on those sunny, warm mornings, thinking of the pleasures of the day. Maybe I’ll be making cheese? Or perhaps it’s a batch of soap, or cleaning fleeces from the shearing a few weeks ago…or learning to spin fleeces into yarn.
My children have grown up with this rich life. The freedom to learn at their own pace, doing schoolwork outside or cozy in the window seat with a cat or dog, or even a sugar glider these days. They were able to pursue their own interests and explore the world at leisure through good literature and nourished on the Words of Life. Homeschooling in the country has been supremely rewarding.
My life is full and busy. It always has been. I have a great love of learning, and so I juggle a plethora of hobbies and projects that mostly include farm animals. Reading and research are fun, but being the midwife for my Miniature Nubians every year during kidding time is like Christmas morning over and over. You never know what colors and sexes are inside the “packages” until they come out. The thrill doesn’t wane. You can’t experience that in a book. Not the emotions of it, the smells and sounds. I was likewise blessed this year with a short and sweet lambing. I had only two ewes this winter, but both lambed unassisted with no problems, and both gave birth to the most beautiful little girls.
I have been researching sheep breeds again and may add a Gotland to the herd. A swedish breed and none 100% pure in America, they are still fairly rare. They have lustrous, long locks that look perfect for spinning to me. I have the picture in my mind of spinning raw locks into textured yarn (like this) and making a gift of it to my grandmother who knits and crochets. She has done needlework for as long as I can remember and even taught me a few kinds when was a child, but I can’t remember how to do any of it. I’m not very interested in learning again really either, but I do want to learn to spin! There are spinning ‘sit ins” all over our glorious Washington state and I’m looking forward to learning and having a portable spinning wheel in time this year for at least one or two of those. I find the whole thing fascinating, and the spinning itself therapeutic. In this crazy world, fast paced and frantic, I look forward to sitting on my lovely (thanks to my husband) lawn in the sunshine and spinning afternoons away. Doesn’t that sound nice? Peaceful and quiet. It’s a good thing to teach my youngest son and grand daughter too. Maybe one of them will learn to make something practical with the finished yarn. Or not. No matter, it’s really the spinning itself I’m after.
It’s past my bedtime now. Morning seems to come early when animals know how to tell time and sound an alarm if you’re late- which they do. Somehow, they know when milking and feeding time is. I’m going to finish my tea, turn on the dishwasher so the jars are sterilized for the morning’s milk, and go snuggle in my bed with my last baby.
God is good.
John 10:27 NKJV