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September  2014


Hope has filled the barn. That is to say eleven hundred and ninety bales of hay are in the barn. I am profoundly grateful for it. There is approximately enough hay for one hundred and twenty days of feed. Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude.

        There are gains here in tiny increments. Tiny. But gains, none the less. Yesterday I polished the floor of my little library. It consists of the building wide landings on the third floor of this house. Which, depending upon how one looks at it, from some aspects is the fourth story. It had seemed to ask to be repainted. I didn’t have the money for the paint but there was some of the incredible zap stuff. I used it. The floor now looks as if it was polished by hand with the beeswax and turpentine mixture I used to buy in England. Amazing. A double blessing. The floor well done and a very insidious reproach removed from my thoughts. While the “library” is less than perfect it does look much nicer. What is not perfect about it is manageable. That is one of my current goals. Manageability before winter sets in. Organizing the house comes first now because it is the first thing to be ignored when the farm becomes news demanding. I’m trying once again
 to utilize an old familial system called ten-ten-ten. Ten minutes spent on each room, to tidy or sweep or organize or put things away. It always takes twenty minutes or so but I like to pretend I can accomplish something in ten minutes. Then I used to spend the remaining housekeeping time on one white room until it was completed to my satisfaction. That could take a spill over until the next day. However, it was for awhile a manageable system. I could probably shovel the carriage house in a similar system. One hour a day. It would save me some money. I always think of it. Have never done it. Maybe this fall I shall.

        The sheep look good. There remains to be a lot of grass in the pastures. With any luck there will be enough thru October and part of November. There never has been so much grass at this time of year. The cold nights in July present the possibility that they were bred then, the ideal time to freshen in late December. I need them to be born then. Easter is early once again, the fifth of April. In order to have lambs big enough to sell they have to be born in December or early January. My new ram whose name seems to fluctuate every few days, Peregrine has not quite stuck, firmly that is, has been seen to be doing his job.

        A perfect and flawless little descendant of Bee Tolman’s commercial dairy has also been trying his luck. He has Brett Miller’s Tunis ram as a grandfather, one of Bee’s prime milk producers as a grandmother, one of her daughter’s as a mother, and one of my rams as a father. His lines are beautiful. He still picks up his head and looks at me when I call him with the clicking sound I used to make to him when he was a little lamb. I hope for great things from his line if I am ever able to delineate them. Next year. I hope.

        I have one week’s worth of firewood in the wood room. And four dead trees in the buffer zone, as well as two along the line fence. That should bring me at least four more face cords that is four more weeks of firewood. There is another face cord of old split wood in the pasture from when I had the wood lot logged out. It is far too seasoned to burn really hot but it is good wood for October or November. Wood. Wood. Wood. The kindling is stocked in the wood room corner. The two seater John room where I keep small pieces is hoed out and ready. I’ve started to bundle some fire starters. Pine cones will be next. My phlox are magnificent this year, but what I also see are bundles of their dried stems for kindling when they go by.

        Life has changed here over the past few weeks. A long term pressure has been removed, and with it my heart has lightened immeasurably. There are adjustments to be made. An enforced growth period is in store for me. Something to which I am unaccustomed. Growth has always been slow in this stubborn Yankee heart. Imperceptible. Oh, I do change. Sometimes. But I have developed the habit of holding onto an unwillingness to let go of disappointment and apprehension. Fear of winter, as an example. Dread. Which doesn’t allow me to have a creative approach to the problem. Any problem. A defense against disappointment, to hope sometimes seems folly. This is in itself a wonderful problem. Not only do I have the inspiration for an attitude change, but I have some clarity about how to go about it on a daily basis. Having a more regular schedule is important and that is evolving, and has been. Some “do-it-no-matter-what” is replacing
 “what’s-the-use-it-hasn’t-worked-after-all of these years.” I must learn to not pick up a book when I wake up at 4:00 in the morning. Often I then read until six o-clock. Decide to get up. Roll over and don’t wake up again until 8:00. That has to stop. Either I don’t read and stay awake, a penance for certain, or I do something to wake me at six no matter how deeply sleep tries to overtake me. I do so love the early hours of the day. However, a dreary heart certainly helped me to forget that. I’d forgotten to cook nice things for myself to eat. I’d forgotten to have a nice moment for myself and enjoy why I came here in the first place. The term “carpe diem” has occurred on occasion in some of my reading. I forgot it. “Seize the day.” I once thought to embroider it on a pillow or learn to do needlepoint. It now just occurred to me to stencil the words in some very pretty script over the French doors in the living room. There is a
 very nice Florentine gold paint, Benjamin Moore, in the home art center which hasn’t been affected by the regular freezes that occur here on a regular basis. Perhaps I’ll have someone find on line for me a selection of type faces from which to choose.

        I’ve been doing some food for winter of late. Pickled mushrooms. Cherry tomatoes in olive oil with basil. Peach marmalade. Today I’ll put up some cassias. Black currants in wine and vodka, to mix in the winter with champagne, or in the summer with seltzer. I was told recently that black currants have a very high amount of antioxidants. Curious that I found them almost impossible to sell this summer.

        Some lambs of an uncertain breed have turned up as a possible acquisition. They have a curious combination of attributes. One seems to be a portrayal of a South down. The other three came from the same source, a source which was a mystery to their present owner who was offered them by someone else who didn’t know where they came from. So be it. I took care of them for a couple of weeks while they are not my breed of choice, no one seems to know what breed they are, and their off spring could all be terminal crosses. No need to keep any of their lambs. I shall have enough hay to feed four more. I’ve also offered to buy part of a flock of ewes that has its origins on my farm some time ago. They are very, very nice. Six ewes of that herd would be an excellent enhancement of mine. We shall see what unfolds. Things are getting very interesting here now. The Isle de France sheep I bought a year and a half ago, very, very expensive lambs at that, have
 proved to be, as was predicted by the miracle worker, a grave disappointment. One dropped a premature set of twins. The others did not breed. They required a heavy amount of grain and second cutting the first six months that they lived here. I gave it to them. They looked great. Of course. However, they reverted to normal sheep when introduced to the rest of the flock. It never occurred to me that almost any sheep would produce twins or triplets if fed over a pound of grain every day of their lives, winter or summer and second cutting every day as well! Sometimes I’m not too good at thinking things through. Part of my problem is that I need the joy of a new animal on the farm. It tends to refine my focus and inspires me to pay attention more closely to everything. The introduction of new life adds new life to me.

        September brings its own glory to the last three weeks of summer. All will be well. All will be well.

Until the next time.

Sylvia Jorrin

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