When I think about spring here at the farm, I think about cuddling the softest lambs, the peepers singing their songs in the wetlands and the joy of watching the land green up after a long winter. It’s all that, it really is. But reality often times looks more like goat amniotic fluids all over my favorite skirt (because a goat kid born on a chilly night needed some help drying off). It looks like us loosing track of the days because they’re all filled with babies, babies and babies. It looks like this constant feeling of running out of time. Time to enjoy those daffodils coming up, time to plan out the events for the year, time to get the animals on grass..
All this to tell myself that it’s alright to lack time to write updates about life at the farm as I planned to do .
Most of all, spring is the time of the highest highs, and the lowest lows. All that new life comes with it’s counterpart (or successor?), death. Where many animals are born, some lives may be lost. And while some years I feel completely ready to jump in, this year I felt that weight on my shoulders. I needed a few days to fully enjoy the thrill of walking into the barn on an early morning to see several sets of twins born just minutes before. I kind of dreaded the responsibility.
All That Life
But after that, I was on and so ready for what was to come. And that was a surprisingly low key lambing and kidding season. Sure, we check the lambs and kids every night before going to bed. Each birth brings the work of dipping the umbilical cord in iodine, checking if the baby nurses properly and the mom has plenty of milk, registering the lamb and it’s particularities in my lambing notes. But I haven’t had to pull a single kid or lamb this year, and with about 50 mamas giving birth, that was something to celebrate. Plus this year I finally had some online lamb and goat records instead of my usual Post It’s..
We had a couple of stillbirths, one mama that needed a whole lot of encouraging before she let her lambs nurse, and a couple of prolapses that went off to have great births. We also lost a few animals that were too weak, but most lambs and kids were strong, healthy and terribly adorable. Breeding for the healthiest, strongest mothers with great milk, birthing abilities and mothering instincts feels like it’s paying off.
And most of all we’ve been loving the sight of little ones everywhere teaming up after a few days of getting used to be earth side, and running around together as a class of preschoolers. Whatever happened earlier that day, when you see 25 goat kids quite literally bouncing off the walls, jumping over each other (and on top of their mothers, so typical..), there is nothing else to do but smile.
Beekeeping and visitors
Our other biggest joy these past few weeks has been the start of the 2021 Beekeeping Training Course. After a year of having hardly any visitors for obvious reasons, it has been so sweet to have a group of people on the farm, all passionate to become beekeepers.
The bees themselves will arrive in a week and a half. Every student gets to install their bees in the hive they will be managing for the season. I so well remember the first time I installed my very own bees in my brand new beehive (in a skirt.. oh those days..). I felt like I was besides shaking bees, also shaking a box full of opportunities and wonder into that hive. Sharing that with others is the best feeling in the world.
Now we are nearing the end of April, the trees are leafing out, the grass has grown so tall the sheep have already started rotating, and grass management becomes one of our main tasks again.We have a flock of sheep, a herd of goats, two cows and a stubborn donkey, all with very specific grazing and foraging preferences. It is a true puzzle to give everyone the forage they desire and give the land the rest and pressure that it thrives best with. Before becoming a farmer I had never thought of managing grass as one of my future jobs, but now it is better than any 1000 piece puzzle I’ve ever side-eyed at.
We as a family are still living in our tent. I can’t believe that we’ve almost made it to a year of living in between canvas walls! The wood stove doesn’t go on anymore every day, we’ve taken the wool blankets off the walls and don’t need hot water bottles in bed anymore, and I think I’m already missing it! There is something tremendously fulfilling about spending part of your day keeping your living space warm and cozy.
On the other hand, with the French doors wide open in the mornings to let the spring sun come in, hearing all the peepers at night and the bird concerts in the early morning has a whole lot of loveliness by itself. Soon we will be surrounded by green again and I’m ready for it.
Alright, I’m back at making a lamb round, we have one last ewe to lamb and it looks like it might be tonight!