Thursday, May 03, 2012

So You Think You Want to Live My Life?

When I leave this place and go out on the road, I hear this from many of the knitters who take my classes….. “I want to live your life.” At first it was a bit disconcerting but as time goes on, I know that many of you who read my blog do so because I show you things that are different from your own lives. I'm used to the comments.

On Friday evening before my class at A Loom with a View, I stayed at Rose Ann Hunter’s beautiful old home which she and her daughter Kristen run as the Morrill Place Inn. Rose Ann hosts rug hooking retreats at her inn along with many of the other traditional textile techniques she practices. Rose Ann is amazing and if you ever get the chance to take one of her classes, do! She teaches at the Stitches events, Interweave KnitLab and TKGA events. Here are some delicate teacups from the breakfast room.

This is an antique European lace curtain which is hung in the breakfast room. So amazingly delicate.

I felt like a queen sleeping in the giant bed.

Here is the handpainted fireplace screen and surround in my room below a lovely old mirror.

All lousy phone photos enhanced with PS Express App on my iPhone.

While I was away, life goes on here at The Farm. Julia and The Farmer did the Amherst Farmers Market and then returned to do chores - feed lambs, check on the dogs, cats, chickens, the grazing ewe flock. There are a lot of creatures eating here that need some looking in on. When I eventually returned home, I was greeted with a very happy Julia. She really did miss me on this short trip. Probably because she had to get up at 5:30 and sit at the market for hours. I was gone for a total of 28 hours - not too long but an ocean away from the farm.

It's always a bit of a shock for me to re-enter farm life. On Saturday I was faced with the reality of the stuff that happens every day pretty quickly. I was told that Saturday during afternoon chores, one of the twin black bottle lambs that we have been feeding for months was under the truck when The Farmer was pulling away. You guessed it. Poor little lamb. The Farmer felt awful - she was a sweet thing and very tame. Sometimes the tameness gets the lambs into situations that a regular mama raised lamb doesn't dare attempt. 

I don't fault The Farmer. No matter how slow you go, or how many times you look before you pull out, stuff happens. So I was faced with the chore of taking care of the lamb. There were times when we would probably have just buried the lamb. Not now. The lamb couldn't live her life without purpose. The Farmer had gutted and skinned the lamb. On Sunday, I dragged the carcass out of the freezer where it was being held and proceeded to cut it up. 

Now I'm not the best at this type of job but I have learned my way around a sheep carcass. This isn't the first time this has happened. One time, our first Border Collie Paisley snapped the leg of a lamb. Another time a giant 800 pound bale fell on a lamb. Nothing really surprises me anymore. I cut off the legs - they are easy. I separated the shoulders from the trunk for braising. Next I cut off the neck for a nice stew treatment. Some butchering is easy to do and some of it difficult - like cutting down the center of the backbone to make a rack of lamb. That is a two person job and a hacksaw is needed (when you don't own a bonesaw). I suppose it would be good to take a butchering class but they aren't offered around here. The lamb is all taken care of now and in the freezer. Because she wasn't "processed" at a USDA facility and was processed in my kitchen, we won't be able to sell the meat. We will be having some fine meals even if this lamb's intended purpose in life was to be a mama.

So, do you still want to live my life?


gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

You do know it's the beauty with which you present your life , and the grace in dealing with its challenges that creates the wishful. Oh, and all the beautiful handcrafted colors and cute lambies ;-)
I know that the farm life is a lot of work but am always happy to visit and even help a little-but not with butchering! See you Monday.

MarmePurl said...

No...I am happy living mine :)
BUT...Butchering a lamb is a skill I wouldn't mind learning.

Auntie Shan said...

Not for a million bucks!! It's always a lovely VIRTUAL place to "Visit", but I *know* MY limitations! As "boring" as my own can get at times, the "excitement" of Farm-Life just doesn't *do-it-for-me* on that close-up and personal level... I am rather selfishly spoiled that way.

However, I DO have the greatest RESPECT and APPRECIATION for *YOURS & FARMER'S* FORTITUDE and DEVOTION to keeping up with Your own!! And, THANK YOU for just even attempting to "Reality-Check-EDUCATE" the Clueless!

BTW, I can't wait to see what Thing-of-Beauty you will eventually wrought out of that Lamb hide... [You did keep it, didn't You?]

Auntie Shan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whosyergurl said...

I don't even want to cut up a chicken...never mind a lamb!
Welcome home.
xo, Cheryl

Auntie Shan said...

Actually, I don't think I'd have a prob with butchering a lamb -- I was always good at disecting things in Biology class... I just don't like doing birds... I don't cook either... ;-D

Caffeine Girl said...

I was the last ag reporter at a daily newspaper in Wisconsin (now no one covers ag full time), so I've known for a long time that I'm not cut out for farm life. The amount of physical and mental work, combined with the many uncertainties, call for a special type of person.

I'm not that special! But you are.

anmiryam said...

No, I know I couldn't cope with farm life. I do, however, want my house to look like yours does in photo shoots!

Lee said...

Gale is right. The life you and your family have created is full of color, energy and nature. That is what people want.

Beth Ferrier said...

The butchering I could do, because the Farmer had already done the part I would be squeamish about. In my mind, the skinning and gutting robs the lamb of its identity.

Farming is very hard work, and death can be a part of every day. I know I'd never manage it on the scale that you do. I admire you very much.

But you know, life and death is with all of us, every day.We never know when our day will come, and yet we often fail to prepare for it.

Most of farming is far from glamorous, but I think we are attracted to the authenticity of the life.

Daisy said...

I love reading about your life on the farm and especially your wonderful photography (you make even iphone pictures look amazing). But after reading about the lamb, I want to live on a tulip farm! :-)

Barb said...

Nope. You're welcome to it.

Ellen said...

I love fleece (I spin) and I love lamb (I eat meat) but ever since my then-boyfriend/now-husband's family's sheep barn burned down and I had to help clean up after the fire, I have never wanted to own a sheep farm.

Thanks for showing us all the aspects of your farm life - many parts are beautiful and all are interesting.

Marcia said...

Thanks Kristin but I'm very happy and content with just reading the blog and would miss it greatly if it ever went away.
I think you do all us readers a good service by putting out into the ether what farm life is really like. Maybe it will become a book someday? Something to look forward to -- in your spare time of course -- HA!

aimee said...

I'm a vegetarian, so I think that I'll stay right where I am. :) But I really respect your approach to farming and how much work it is. Also, I saw a post on another site that I wanted to share with you but I couldn't get the email link to work. So, hear it is. Thanks for all you do.

Kathleen C. said...

Well... I wouldn't have said I wanted to "live your life", and I still wouldn't say that. But I would and will say that I want to live my life with the same grace, pragmatism and beauty that you live yours.
Not the same statement, but perhaps the same feeling?

ellen kirkendall said...

There are so many reasons that the farm life is not for me. I so enjoy your willingness to share your life and allow us a peek at the best bits and (some of) the hard parts. Success at farming requires a level of hard work and unsentimental dedication that few these days can muster. God Bless you and your family.

Kieren Dutcher said...

Well, the grass is always greener.
You show the most beautiful and endearing parts of your life, without the pile of bills to pay or dirty laundry.
Butchering a lamb? I'm sure I could do it if it was my life. I grew up with chickens, numerous dogs, cats, even a horse, so I know how labor intensive it is.
No, I don't want it. But I'd sure love to visit!

Anonymous said...

I knew when you showed the picture of the Farmer pushing a ram into the back of a truck that I would have great difficulty handling Farm Life. It's strange, in a way, I pick up meat in the grocery store, but I couldn't handle that reality of your life. Is that Denial? I must say though, the "artistry" of you comes through in everything you do. You have my admiration, dear lady.

Joyce said...

I can honestly say for the first time in 47 years that I am totally content with my life and do not envy other people's. We have been living at the edge of the jungle in Ecuador for 3 years now. We are missionaries to the indigenous people here. However, I love your blog and especially your photos. I am from NW Connecticut and lived in northern New York for 6 years. Your photos look so much like home!!! I admire your hard work, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog, love the photos this time. Others have mentioned the realities of farm life, eloquently. I guess we all have dreams--I live in a rather unglamorous part of Maine and I'm always tickled by the hordes of tourists descending on the coast. Life here is hard (though harder for the rural poor). But I know I'm privileged to live in beauty too. (Also now when I go to places like the inn or a nice restaurant, I'm really tickled).

Anonymous said...

As you know, you never know what is going to happen on a farm. Everyday is different. Every morning when I go to our school farm I look for surprises and problems. Usually everything is fine, but there are those bad days. I have learned to do many things I really didn't know how or want to do. Vets are expensive.

I must say farm life has interfered with vacations, weekends, and family plans often. I guess if everything was perfect everyday it would not be fun. :=)


Cary at Serenity Farms said...

I'm a farmer/shepherd, too, Kristin and I love visiting your blog not just for your inspiring work with yarns and wool but for the simple fact that you DO share with the world some of what a working farm is truly like!

Its hard, dirty, demanding work. Still, would we change our lives for another? I don't think so ;)

Keep up the GREAT work! And thank you for sharing honestly

Shari Spiro said...

Hi Kristin - Shari from back in the far past - I loved reading your most recent posts - you are a wonderful writer.
There is a natural way about your writing that lets people identify with you, and your willingness to share your
experience is part of what leads the reader to identify with the basic difference in your life.
You are able to interact with nature - we - who are technology driven to make our daily bread -
often wistfully look at those who actually cook the bread themselves so to speak.
In the scheme of things - it is fun to live vicariously through others. I can relate to your most recent post more than anything -
there is always a downside - to everything - and we must all keep that in our minds. I find it best to try to balance
how I live with how I would wish to live - and just try to get the two as close as possible.
Sorry for your loss - but I am equally sure I would be the one of the first to compliment you on your stew.
If you ever decide to make a deck of Custom Playing Cards
you know who to call.
Best Regards

struanfarm said...

Kristin, on a farm you do what you need to do. You know that. You're connected to the animals and where your food and livelihood come from. It's not easy, but you know that. Things happen with and to animals that break our hearts sometimes, but other times are joyful, like the lamb races at sunset.