Thursday, January 17, 2008

Flights, Talks, Life and Books

I’m finally feeling more normal and ready to tackle everyday life after my trip. I’m not sure what happens to me but it just takes a while to settle in and even assess what needs to be done. The jet lag and very long and overly stimulating days and nights at the show just do me in. Extra sleep the past few days seems to have helped. I am very thankful I don’t have to go on one of those long, extended book trips like some authors are expected to!

That said, the trip to Minnesota is shaping up. Thanks to all who e-mailed with suggestions. It looks like the speech at the Textile Center is going to work out - probably for Friday evening, February 15 at 7 p.m. Margaret Miller, the lovely Executive Director, got back to me and said yes. You’ll have to check back here for specifics in a week. Now we (that’s you and me, guys and of course the publicity team at Storey) have to spread the word so there is a good turn-out and I don’t look like a fool! I’m going to get the Publicity Department to create a poster and I’ll tell you all when it is available.

Now it is back to real life on the farm. The nice thing about returning to a farm is that nothing changes. Lambs are still being born and The Farmer is still feeding them. Mud comes and then freezes again and becomes muddy ice which is much easier to walk through than boot-sucking mud. Snow comes and goes (and it is coming again tonight). Farmlife is all rather comforting in an odd way since it really isn’t very peaceful at all.

The older lambs are racing around after each other playing their lamby version of tag. The younger lambs are close to their mother’s sides nursing and sleeping, nursing and sleeping – very similar to a newborn baby’s activities. When they lose sight of their moms, a frantic little baaaaahhhh can be heard and then the mama answers back with her lower pitched, comforting baaaaahhh. They are quickly re-united. It is not unlike going to the grocery store and losing sight of your young child.

The lamb population has grown so much that we have given up counting. There are close to 100 lambs. It’s hard to take cute little pictures of cute little lambs and moms because it is mass hysteria with lambs running to and fro. I keep trying.

I often get asked what it is like to live on a farm. I think most people have a rather romantic notion of the whole farm thing. But as you can tell, by reading this blog, there’s mostly hard work which is sometimes dirty and smelly and sad. There are lots of beautiful photo opportunities which are fun to capture and share. There’s a lot to deal with which the normal American person probably doesn’t want to hear or think about.

I have compiled a list of some very good books that we have enjoyed reading and which you (those farmer wannabees) may too. It is a combined list made by The Farmer and me and it is no particular order - just as they came off the stack. Some of them may be out of print and the British ones may only be available from British booksellers. Enjoy.

Hill Shepherd, A Photographic Essay by John and Eliza Forder
, 1989, Frank Peters Publishing, Cumbria, England - lovely photos and a bit of words documenting hill farms in the Dales and Lake District of England.

Little Heathens
by Mildred Amstrong Kalish. Bantam Books, 2007. A new book written by an octogenarian about growing up on a farm in Iowa during the depression. Not much about livestock but this overview of farmlife is very matter of fact and enjoyable to read. No sugar coating. It was reviewed in the NYTimes Book Review and was one of their "10 Most Notable Books of 2007."

Sylvia's Farm
by Sylvia Jorrin. Bloomsbury, 2004. A little hard to get into (I started it, stopped it for about a year, and then eventually finished it). It might be a little sugar coated and a bit too flowery but a nice read. And Sylvia is a knitter.

by Nicola Smith. The Lyon's Press, 2004. Very real story about bringing back and aging farm organically. Not all about animals, some crops and flower farming too. Lovely photos by Geoff Hansen.

A Shepherd's Watch by David Kennard, Headline Book Publishing (UK), 2004.
Dogs of Windcutter Down also by David Kennard. Both of these books are very well written and so true to what it really is to raise a large flock of sheep. The author lives in England and tells it exactly as it is. As I was reading it, I kept saying to myself, "oh, that happens to them also." His sheepdogs play a major part in the book.

The Last Shepherds
by Charles Bowden. Granada (UK), 2004. The subtitle of this book is "A Vanishing Way of Life on Britain's Traditional Hill Farms. The Farmer really liked this book and I've got it on my stack to be read this year.

Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep
by Paula Simmons and Carol Ekarius. Storey Publishing, 2000. This book has been in print forever and we have at least four copies in various states of disrepair. It covers lots of the basic information you will need if you want to start raising sheep.

James Herriott's books and the BBC t.v. series All Creatures Great and Small. We enjoy reading and watching all of the work this prolific vet did. Can't miss with the humour and descriptions of a time gone by.


Kat said...

"there’s mostly hard work which is sometimes dirty and smelly and sad"

You should invite Mike Rowe out for lambing season next year!

KSee said...

Glad things are working out for MN trip. Hope you get to come down to Metro DC area one day. I has to be mind boggling to have that many lambs. Do you have this many each year?

Deborah said...

Yea!! Kristin's coming!! Can you hear me cheering from MN?

Karen said...

I love reading your blog. Having always had a secret desire to raise sheep for the wonderful kinds of wool to be had and then to weave beautiful blankets. I am not a stranger to farm animals having raised horses and goats in my distant past, I know the work is terribly hard sometimes. The rewards come in small heartfelt bits. Now I live in this big big city and I can revisit a dream via your blog. thank you.

josyknits said...

I've just found your blog and I think it's comforting to read and know that there are more farmers out there! We raise beef cattle and our calving season is about to begin. Hard work and sometimes sad but oh the joy that overshadows all that! New life is something to behold!

Can't wait to see you in MN!

Polly said...

If you liked Little Heathers, you would like my father's book (Dwight Hoover), A Good Day's Work, which is a memoir of growing up on an Iowa farm during the depression. It does not gloss over the really hard work and dirt and tedium of farming but is also somewhat nostalgic about the farm and especially the community. You can find it on Amazon (and it does have description of maggots out of the butts of sheep -- his language is much more refined than mine. LOL).

I love your blog and your projects!!