Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Back Again And Life Moves On

It has been over two weeks since I last opened my laptop. Gee whiz - how awesome! I actually forgot about the keyboard! I never feel totally disconnected because of my smartphone but I did try (and quite successfully) to not look at it too much. I am now jumping back into work and on-line life with the holidays over and life back to semi normal. Most of the Christmas decorations are still up and they will stay up for at least another month. I love the twinkling lights and glitter at this dark time of the year and I see no reason to put it away as it adds much visual cheer. 

We had a nice couple of weeks. I cherish the time we get to spend time together without the interruption of Julia's school schedule. The three of us visited my mom and my sisters in NJ and Julia and I went to Boston for a quick trip. Otherwise it was low key. Farming never stops for The Farmer. He is only able to be away for 2 evenings after getting the animals all stocked up with food. He never really relaxes when he away and I know he keeps thinking about all that needs to be done to get ready for lambing. He couldn't believe that it had been a year since he last was at my mom's house. Time certainly does seem to fly by the older you get, doesn't it? 

The Christmas Holiday Season is always bittersweet for me. My Dad passed away on the Winter Solstice eleven years ago. I always dread that day. I will never forget the early morning call from my sister Jenn sobbing and crying. That Christmas was a sad one with the silver lining of having the whole family together to remember Daddy's life. I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences around the holidays losing loved ones. There was an article in the WSJ about this same subject. This December, we lost two dear family and farm friends and we still are adjusting to thinking about life without them on the earth. 

We had an ice and snow storm shortly after Christmas. I am still hacking away a path through the thick ice. Now we are in a deep freeze. It is "pipe freezing weather" and "lamb killing weather". I know - most of you probably don't think of these things but that is the gist of the general conversation when you live on a farm - the weather - the animals - and what is for supper. Luckily, most of the lambs are not due for a week or so. We have had 4 so far and when I get a chance, I will post some photos. I have light bulbs next to the the pipes in the kitchen which always seems to help. We have been hauling wood for the furnace but it is still chilly in the house. Good thing for wool sweaters and hats. 

Boy oh boy, I just re-read this post and it sounds like such a bummer and downer. I do not mean to sound that way and try to keep this place happy and upbeat but life is not all wine and roses. Sometimes it is best for me to share the good with the bad so that many of you reading who live in different places and dream of living a beautifully bucolic farm life, don't get the wrong impression of perfect life on the farm. Frankly, life is not perfect on a farm - just like it isn't perfect where you live. We are all faced with challenges, heartaches, sickness, death mixed amongst the happiness. On a farm it swings greatly between the two emotions of joy and sadness more frequently. 

On the 23rd, we lost our dear Border Collie Nessie to cancer. She was 10 1/2 years old and was the hardest working dog we have ever had. We miss her constantly. I keep saying to Kate - "Are you ready to be in charge? Ready to be top dog?" She looks at me with the most quizzical look.

Ness on our last walk through the fields on December 18th
The fact of the matter is I have seen a distinct change in Kate the past couple weeks without Nessie being around. At first she was trying to figure out where Nessie had gone. Then she realized that she doesn't have to fight at the food bowl anymore because Nessie was always laying next to it guarding it. She is more in tune with The Farmer's every move. She is always waiting for him to go outside to go to see the sheep. She used to love to ride in the car when Julia and I were out and about doing errands. Not now - she is all business just waiting to hop in the truck and go with him to do chores. Try as I might last night, she would not hop in and ride with Julia and me. 

Kate has been The Farmer's main working dog this fall because Ness was failing. She has a long ways to go and still scatters the sheep in the wrong direction at times. I think as she matures more and hangs around the sheep at the barn she should hopefully figure it all out. She is incredibly agile and quick and very sweet. During the winter, there is no herding or moving to be done because the sheep are all tucked into the barns. 

We will have to think about getting another Border Collie puppy soon. We have not been without two dogs in the house in over 30 years. I am missing the routine of having two dogs in the house with us daily. We have lost 3 dogs in the last 13 months - Phoebe, Winston, and Ness. Boy oh boy. You love them so much and then they are gone. And then you miss them and think about them every day. I call their names out of habit and then realize they are not here anymore.  

The LGD puppies Beau and Sadie are doing great outside. They are getting huge! They definitely know their place and reason for being on this earth - to guard the sheep and our family. There has been a lot more barking during the dark evening hours which is what they should be doing. Their coats are so thick and curly and beautiful. They still are not doing too good in the "not jumping on people department." Shoveling snow and ice and gathering firewood is one of their favorite activities. 

As Garrison Keillor says, "That's the news from Leyden Glen Farm today...." I'm not much for Year in Review Posts nor New Year Resolutions. It's best for me to just jump back in where I left off and start organizing what needs to be done. The photos in this post were taken on December 18th and I have not wanted to download them onto my computer to look at them until now knowing that this was the last nice walk I took with Ness. 

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to sharing lots with you this 2016. 


Bevie Sams said...

Hi Kristin, I found your blog through my sister, Mary Freeman's blog. I used to farm in a small way many years ago...raised chickens, a calf and lots of hogs...yep...we raised them from babies sometimes bringing them into the house to play with. I have a cute picture of Mary with one of them. Today I live on 5 acres up in the mountains of VA where I see so many different wild animals, and even feed some of them in harsh weather. Birds are one of the best friends I see daily. Blessings for your awesome future...Bevie

Jacqui said...

What a lovely, real post. I'm sorry about your collie they are wonderful dogs. I smiled at your story of Kate being your husband's dog now - such a collie thing. Hoping the winter is not too hard on you xxx

Lynn said...

I'm so sorry about Nessie. It's so hard when our pets die.

Over Christmas, I read a wonderful book that made me think of you and your farm: James Rebanks' The Shepherd's Life. He and his family raise Herdwick and Swaledale sheep in the Lakes District of England. I have never read a better book for illuminating how, sometimes, people can be OF one landscape and no other.

Unknown said...

Another loss of a furry friend? Sorry to hear about Nessie. I hope the year ahead is loss free on all fronts. And thank you for the lovely post. I didn't take any of your writing as negative, but perhaps that's because it is so easy to relate to the topics.

I'm wondering if you've considered getting Beau and Sadie's fur woven into yarn for knitting? Years ago I happened upon a spinner who had turned all of her pet's fur into yarn. This seemed a bit odd at first, but then she mentioned that it was one way to remember fondly cuddling and petting her sweet friends who had since passed.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year Kristin!

carole said...

I enjoyed your open house so much so sorry to hear of your loses over the past 13 months. It seems to me this past year was a year of sudden loses for me too. Life does go on but the memories do help us through. my old house has frozen pipes every year. The light bulb idea sounds good. Your family times sounds wonderful if you do ever want to learn to spin I would be happy to teach you.I live nearby
Whispering Pines Farm

Lee said...

I am so sorry about Nessie! It has really been a tough fall for you all. Hang in there, stay as warm as you can, take care.

mn_bird said...

I am so sorry to hear about Nessie. She was a beautiful dog. I enjoyed meeting her when I was at your farm and always enjoyed it, when you mentioned her in your blogs. I also very much understand how losing a parent around the holidays brings poignancy to all future holiday seasons.

Wishing you well in this new year,

ellen kirkendall said...

I'm sorry you lost your beautiful Nessie. What bad luck for you losing so many of your dogs in such a short time. I hope this winter will be kind to you, and your lambing will go well. We're in the tunnel now and can only hope for a kind winter.

Auntie Shan said...

what..?!! [INSERT: Expression of "shock"] - THE FARMER actually "escaped" the Sheepdom for a couple of days?!! ;-D

So, GOOD to see you "back"! I've been missing your postings over the Holidays. But, I'd figured that you'd be just a tad "busy"... And, I'm sure the weather hasn't really helped either! Especially after that BIG storm last week. We just got *slightly* clipped by it and still ended up with a foot of snow plus drifting! So I can imagine how GLACIAL it likely is on your end! And now, we're starting to come out of that 2-day deep freeze! [windchills were in the -20 to -25F range] Actually, we really shouldn't be that surprised by it all, as it's all within seasonal "norms". But, after having a warmish "green" Christmas, it is a bit of a "REALITY CHECK"!! - However, I did get a chance to over-"compensate" yesterday with a 3-bagger bit of WOOL Purchasing! :-D [There was a Sale...]

Anyhoo, sorry to hear about NESS. Losing Loved Ones around the Holidays [or on birthdays & anniversaries] really does put a damper on "festivities". - So, yeah, keep those Decorations "UP"! They do make a difference. Case in point, as I was driving home last night from doing the "shopping", I had noticed that most of the houses in our neighbourhood had their Christmas Lights *OFF*. It was actually somewhat DEPRESSING! :-[ Seeing all of the COLOUR before as I drove by had been quite uplifting. oh well...

In the meantime, hang in there! Hope "birthing" season goes well and "to plans"! [yeah, I know. "hahahaha..."!] - So, stay *WARM* and safe! And, *HUGS* all round!!

Anonymous said...

Each time I look into the beautiful, soulful eyes of my dog Emily, I think "someday you are going to break my heart". That is the way with dogs, exceptional creatures. Their love for us is unique.
We, too have been dealing with the loss and illnesses of dear friends. Another dart to the heart.
All part of our human life unfortunately. On we go with the bright lights for cheer.
Happy New Year.

Melaine said...

Hi Kristin, this is a lovely post. So sorry for your loss. Take care, Melaine

Claire said...

So sorry to hear of your losses. I know exactly how you feel as I lost my husband Christmas 2014, and Christmas just gone has been very hard for my family and I. But as you say, life goes on whether you want it to or not, and looking forward to lambs must be one way of connecting with the ups and downs of nature's ways. Your two outside dogs are looking very good

Vermont Grand View Farm said...

I am so sad to hear that Nessie died. It was so great to see her at your open house. Your husband told us that Nessie was slowing down yet he allowed her to continue to work with him, even at her slower pace. I think it is so important to allow our border collies to live their older years out in dignity by recognizing their weaknesses and still finding ways for them to feel useful and of value. Kate is a smart dog. She will now step up to the plate and fill in the gap.

Lines of Beauty said...

This is one of my favorite posts of yours Kristin. One of the greatest human connectors in life is the reality that we all share times that bring us sorrow. What do they say?...we have to walk through the darkness to see the light again? Something like that! Happy New Year to all of you, on that beautiful farm. Xo

GodfreyKate said...

I'm a city girl, Kirstin, but I appreciate your honesty about the realities of life on the farm. Your creative drive and love of family, animals and color have made for a thoughtful 2015. I look forward to the posts ahead and will think of you as I knit from my stash of Julia in 2016. Be well and continue to do good work.

Adaliza said...

Hi Kristin - New Year's love to you all and a tear for Nessie. She was so like my Misty who's 11 and getting a bit rickety. Take care and keep warm. Ax

tjf said...

Hi Kristin,

Just wanted to thank you for your blog; I enjoy all your posts - they are real and honest. So sorry for your losses. May 2016 be a very blessed year for you and your family.


patience mason said...

I just read your book Crafting a Colorful Home, which I loved. Read the afterward and found your blog. that was a wonderful post and not at all a downer. Sorry for your loss.

Nick said...

I enjoy your posts and your pictures! Very glowing, even in the dark conditions, of your sheep!