It was one of those week when the ticking of the clock got a little louder with each passing day.
As I have said before, there’s a choreography to keeping the farm running smoothly. If there is a mis-step anywhere along the way, the repercussions are far-reaching. This week was our one chance to keep things on schedule.
With the last batch of lambs off to the processor, it was time to introduce the keeper ewe lambs to the grown ewe flock. And, in order to do that, Angus had to head to his solitary winter paddock out back. He had been hanging out with the ladies ever since he finished his one and only job. But, since we did NOT want to breed ewe lambs (or have any really late babies), he needed to move.
Before that could happen, we needed to make a run to the stockyard with two small lambs that weren’t worth taking to the processor.
And, you thought I was kidding about choreography.
Remember the two sick lambs that I worried and worked over for what seemed like forever? Well, they did indeed survive. Although they never really thrived. Since the price for lamb processing is charged per head (not per pound like cattle and hogs) the lambs must be fairly large to warrant the $100 fee. These little guys were not at all large. They weren’t worth taking to the processor. They weren’t keeper quality. And, neither of us are fans of lawn ornaments.
So, off to the stockyard.
They should have gone weeks ago, but it just didn’t happen. It was now, or never.
It was obvious from the beginning that the job wasn’t going to be a pleasant one. It was raining. A bone-chilling, drenching rain. Handling sheep in the rain isn’t fun...they’re like smelly, soggy sponges. These lambs were also teeny, weeny (compared to what we generally haul) and one of them was losing half her wool (lambs often get “wool-break” after an illness) Honestly, they were an embarrassment.
|at the stockyard|
Pulling into the stockyard, with our little lambs, in the rain, among the big rigs, it was apparent that this was no ordinary Tuesday sale at the yard. Unbeknownst to us, it was the big bred heifer sale and there were cows everywhere. Big, black cows.
Now, if you ever want to feel out of place, introduce some dinky little lambs into a sale of mostly big, black Angus cows. Honestly, it would have been funny if it hadn’t made me feel so self-conscious.
There’s a real sense of animosity between some cattle farmers and shepherds. I really don’t know why, but some cattle farmers feel far superior to shepherds. And, lots of folks just cannot stand sheep. I’ve known more than one farmer who has had derogatory things to say about sheep. “Range-maggots” and “no count” come to mind. Hauling our two dinky lambs into the stockyard in our hybrid dog-kennel/trailer didn’t do much for our “serious” farmer image either...
|a couple of embarrassing specimens|
A rainy day, a big sale, a bunch of big, jumpy cattle, some testy farmers...and we were both more than a little relieved to pull out of the stockyard minus the lambs.
With that adventure behind us, we were back to the hill trying to get the last of the items on the “to-do” list completed. We were working against a couple of deadlines...my upcoming surgery date, Market harvest...and the first blast of cold, COLD air. The weather forecast spelled an end of outdoor harvest, so it was going to be a race to get the last of the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage harvested before a hard freeze.
|ewe flock grazing in the rain|
But, it was still raining. So, we took advantage of the inclement weather and visited all the grandsons. (and their moms)
|Grandpa finally got to hold Garrett!|
It was 38* with a steady rain as I picked the broccoli. The cold temperature required coveralls. But they were soaking up the rain and slowing me down. It was like attempting to move through quicksand...very cold quicksand. The task seemed overwhelming. When the Boss finished cleaning/boxing eggs he came to help.
When all was said and done, we crammed over 100 pounds of cauliflower into the cooler from that one picking! (in addition to broccoli and cabbage)
|heading to surgery|
Then, it was finally here. The day of my surgery.
The day I had been both anticipating and dreading. Now, believe me, a Friday certainly wasn’t my first choice for a trip to the hospital. Friday has been harvest/prep day for Market for 20 years. And, we are nothing if not creatures of habit. (and missing the Market is never an option) But, that was the best date they had…and I needed to get the whole thing taken care of…pronto.
The surgery went well. The Doc told the Boss that the offending cyst was about the size of a softball. Yikes! Thanks to modern technology, I was back out of the hospital in about 5 hours.
I truly appreciate all the prayers, kind words and concern. I’m sore and tired...and it looks like I have four belly buttons, (I suppose you really didn't want or need to know that) but, I’m feeling good. The surgical site pain is actually less than what I had been enduring on a daily basis. That’s good news, to say the least. And, I will be fully recovered just in time for lambing season!
The weather forecast was right. The cold weather arrived with a vengeance and Friday night was frigid. The low here was 19*.
|early morning light through the office window|
That meant that the Boss was in for a challenging Market day, all alone. Not only did he have to set up and sell our stuff, he still had all his managerial duties to perform. (I’m thinking that was my one and only “day off” from the Market...ever)
|this probably wasn't fair of me...|
all warm and toasty by the woodstove
|icicle on the Market trailer|
Cold weather makes everything at an open-air market difficult. Produce freezes, customers stay away, and it is nearly impossible to make change with cold fingers. This week there was the additional challenge of closed streets for the annual Veterans’ Day Parade. But, he prevailed.
And, that, my friends, was our week.
Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday!
Thanks for stopping by. Come back and “visit” us again real soon.
Oh, here’s a postscript to the “dinky lamb” story. We got over $100 for each of the lambs! (that will never compete with cattle prices, but, I’m happy)