Saturday, October 19, 2013

where i am, and where i am not

For starters: I am not at Rhinebeck, aka the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, aka the biggest fall fiber festival on the East Coast.

To put this in perspective, I have attended this event for ten years straight. I took Terzo when he was only six months old (don't judge me). I have camped with my parents in their trailer, at a nearby campground and at the fairgrounds, with and without kids. One memorable year, I camped by myself at the fairgrounds in my minivan. I have missed Secondo's birthday (don't judge me). I even worked it in around a wedding taking place the same weekend.

Why? Because it is a tremendously energizing and inspirational event for me, with all the work I do with sheep and wool and fiber. I come back from these events completely recharged, with my mind overflowing with new ideas. It is wonderful to see old friends (on a planned and random basis) and make new friends, all of whom have the same obsessions.

But this year, it was just too much. And unlike in previous years, when I would have stood on my head to make it happen, and driven everyone else around me crazy with the concessions they would have to make for me to make it happen—I simply decided I couldn't go.

This has not been without some regret on my part. OK, a LOT of regret on my part. As recently as last night, I was plotting last-minute strategies to get myself up there, even if for a few hours. But I reread my last post, and held strong. Even when I saw pictures that my friends were posting from Rhinebeck: I may have shed a tear or two, but I am still in New Jersey. At the moment. I can't swear to my whereabouts tomorrow.

So what I was doing today instead? Attending Terzo's soccer game. Helping (and helping and helping) Primo with the impending deadline for his first college application. Taking Secondo to a friend's house, who he doesn't see very often because they no longer attend the same school. All the things I talked about in my last post, basically.

Plus sheep.

All the busy-ness has meant that we haven't been at the farm long enough to get the sheep reorganized for breeding season. With the new ram from Maine, we had choices this year. I pulled out the pedigrees and production records this morning, and figured out a dating plan.

Clean jackets were sorted and ready to go. It reminded me of getting them ready for a wedding, or a least a special ceremony.

The rams were certainly hip to the program. As soon as we had them tied up in the chute next to the girls so we could put on the marking harnesses, they started to chat up the girls, who were not adverse to the attention.

Our boys get along very well, but at this point we had to make sure they couldn't come into contact with each other or there would have been blood. The ram lambs were moved out into the potholed pig pasture, unfortunately for the ram lambs, but we are short on securely-fenced pastures with four separate groups at the moment. They didn't seem to mind. Turns out there is more fresh grass in there than we thought.

The non-breeding ewe group got its own paddock as well. They seemed to be happy to be out of all the craziness going on in the back pastures.

Ugh, looking at this picture reminds me that this shed
HAS to be repainted before the winter.

The poor ewes left back there soon regretted their flirty behaviour at the fence. The rams wasted no time in chasing them around, and around, and around, which the ewes soon tired of. The ram is in the green jacket in the above photo, and you can see the ewes regarding him warily from the side of the shed and laying in exhaustion on the ground, awaiting his next (currently unwelcome) move.

Once the work was done, what else to do on a beautiful fall day?

Note the footgear, but if you are going to be playing football around a chicken coop, then it is probably an advisable choice.


  1. My guess is that you just could not miss it completely and you went up early this (Sunday) morning.

  2. What memories! I love to go for the same reasons as you, and this year have repeatedly found myself thinking of Rhinebeck. And that six-month-old probably got a lot of information from the skirting class.

    Because--and only because--I tend toward the 'glass-half-full', I remind myself of what needs doing here. It has been the only way to get through the weekend.

  3. There is always Maryland in the spring :-)...I didn't go this year either...