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August  2014


The little lamb made herself cozy in the thick green grass of the south pasture. She looked at me intently. Her rabbit ears erect. I was an object of interest. Neither friend nor foe if I kept my place that is. The roots of the great pine tree created a chair of sorts perfectly balanced for me to sit and rest my back. I watched her.  She watched me. I was careful to not disturb the balance that was between us. Delicate. Imperative. We shall live our lives together. Or in proximity, that is. She is an August lamb. That in itself is a miracle. She may be the first. As much as I search my memory I can remember no other. She is a miracle of herself and of her mother who wears braided rope around her neck tells me she gave birth to twins in January. Oh, some of my ewes breed back. Perhaps at an eight month interval. But at six to seven months! That certainly is a miracle. But that is only half of it. The metal went back on the roof a week ago. That of itself
 was a miracle. However, the little rabbit eared lamb was born the day the roof to the barn went on. And that sealed my fate. Had I not been able to get hay into the barn I would have had to sell the sheep and leave, for I cannot conceive of living here without farming it. Her dam is a good one, keeping her baby near her at all times and in a certain distance away from the flock. No one to steal her away. There is another ewe that seems to be bagging, or drying off. But she’ll never get close enough to this ewe lamb to steal her.

        I look with wonder at the metal roof that covers the existing mow.  I dare not even think about the rest of the barn. There needs to be things done to make my house a bit more inhabitable than it is, before winter. I now, after a long interval, have more than a trickle of cold water in the kitchen sink. That is in itself a luxury since it is the only water source in my part of the house. At the moment. The man who finished the roof shall “do” the last work on the box gutters in my house. That means, in all probability that there won’t be ice on the wall of the understandably unused room next to the room where I sleep most times, of late, this winter. But it is the barn roof that draws my eye. With the deepest of gratitude.

        I planted beans for drying in the vegetable garden this spring. They are growing in great abundance. I hope they are planning on producing their worth. The seeds were relatively expensive. Will I get enough dried beans to more than decorate the larder shelves? Oh, they are varieties one can’t buy in most stores. And very pretty to look at. I love the idea of them even more than the beans themselves.  I planted winter squash as well. French ones and what seem to be American ones, altho they all seem to have started out as American squash. A dear friend gave me a beautiful,  beautiful book of Monet’s recipes and pictures of his incredible house. The recipes tempt me to cook again. I have made some peach marmalade as well as red currant something or other. Our currants don’t jell like European ones so mine is every much of a syrup. Perfect for yogurt. Or in seltzer for a most refreshing drink. I made a dill, garlic and mint vinegar and have started
 to pick the wild organic thyme that we are blessed with these days. I watched the thyme move in slowly, intently over the past six years or so. First it was only a small patch, about a foot in diameter across the brook. It took several years to cross the brook and now it is in some of the south pasture behind the barn for the first time. It stays fragrant for nearly a year after being picked, as does the camomile that grows here. That is also picked and dried. More for the satisfaction I take in doing it and the pleasure it gives to people to whom I give it than for my own use. It is not a favorite here. The thyme on the other hand, gives a wonderful smell in the north wall larder where I hang a decent sized clump from the ceiling. It reminds me of France. I love the stuff.

        The larder is beginning to see a few new things in it. I put up some cherry tomatoes. Thanks to BOGO, which I have always thought needs to be termed BOGOF, buy one, get one free. The recipe is French. It preserves them in olive oil. There is a small amount of basil in the garden for the first time and a few seedlings in the flat where I have started the sage, therefore I had some leaves for the tomatoes. It shall be interesting to see if they do stay preserved until November. The larder is begging to be dismantled. I’ve rarely gone into it this summer. It therefore has cobwebs with Miss Haversham draping the ceiling and shelves. Cooking was of no interest to me for a combination of reasons. I learned I’ve been suffering from a dramatic deficiency of Vitamin D. To my absolute amazement. I am outside in the sun in all kinds of weather so to be deficient in Vitamin D comes as a disconcerting surprise. The symptom is fatigue. I know I have been
 exhausted for quite some time. The devastating winter has been the brunt of the blame. The roof on the barn and a personal sadness contributed their share to it all, not to mention tenant problems. And so I attributed being unbearably tired to all of the above. It turns out that an absence of the vitamin has been the primary cause. Today is the first day I woke up and got right out of bed with some enthusiasm for the day. Two weeks of Vitamin D. Yesterday was the first day I felt driven to accomplish things I haven’t paid attention to for a very long time. Like going to the riparian buffer zone to pick a bouquet of goldenrod for the dining room. I even drew the design to stencil a wall in the kitchen to replicate the tiles in Monet’s kitchen. In addition to diligently scrubbing a floor that bears the brunt of a high traffic existence.

        I like to sit with the sheep for awhile every day. Of late I’ve found a tree or two under which to sit and watch them. Some come over and put their faces next to mine, or touch my hand. Others graze next to me, with sometimes a nibble or two on the back collar of my shirt. I don’t take either dog with me in those moments. They belong to me and the flock. The great pine tree in the south pasture spreads its boughs in a curved shape enclosing me and the sheep in its great embrace. The surrounding hills become the base of the half moon. I sit surrounded by it. It is important for me to remember why I am here.

        A new ram arrived on Sunday morning. His origins are from my flock, but he is unrelated to the ewes bred by William Greenleaf Sire. William must either go or be separated from my sheep. There was evidence of over inbreeding this year. He has been too long in the flock. I am reluctant to let him be trucked. Each time I think I can do it I can’t bring myself to have him trucked away or have him put down.  The new ram was a starter of sorts when I helped set someone up in farming. He has a calm nature. Didn’t fight back against my rams when they ganged up on him. I hope he has an opportunity to cover some ewes. My little six month old “replacement” ram has been having a go at it when his father and older brothers are otherwise engaged. Sometimes in a tussle with each other. Sometimes beating each other out in an attempt to cover the same ewe. I’ll see him rapidly slip in between a cluster of ewes around the salt block and try to mount one.
 Usually the ewe will slip away. However he is tall enough to reach. His mother comes out of Bee Tolman’s flock. His grandfather was Bret Miller’s Folly, B. Tunis. He has some of the coloration of Tunis however that is fading. I am at a loss for the right name for him however. The remarkable thing is that his mother is still nursing him. That means there is a possibility that he will throw good milking ewes in the fullness of time. The line is excellent.

        Oh, it is that time again! The watching. The counting of days. The days between a ewe being covered and giving birth. One hundred and forty two to one hundred and fifty. By my count, there may be a Christmas lamb!

        Oh, one more thing! The name of the new ram. Peregrine came to mind immediately,. Abernathy took a few more minutes. And so Peregrine it is. Cordelia is a perfect fit for the new lamb. So be it. August is a rich and lush and abundant month. I am grateful for it all.

Until the next time.

Sylvia Jorrin

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