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The Shepherd Comes Home

I I have written, in my mind, the first lines to this story a half a dozen different ways over the past week or two. My favorite was: "The fly walked across the glass in the dining room window. Soon it was joined by another and still another. The air was warm. A hornet flew in from an open window and it too walked across the glass. I watched them. Idle fascination."

I have been subject to the effects of an accident in the barn for the past seven weeks. Almost three of those weeks were spent in the hospital. Usually flat on my back, at least until a nurse, Karen is her name, suggested to the doctors that they prescribe a different kind of pain killer. Mercifully it worked and I could sit up once again with a minimum amount of pain. I was in a fuzzy cotton candy state of mind for most of the time, unable to think clearly, and dependent on the kindness of the hospital staff for all of my needs. I met some deeply caring people. As well as some others. A sheep being weighed on a hanging scale kicked me with all of its might as it fell off. It's kick created a hematoma which in turn pressed along a nerve against a bone, eventually affecting my poor innocent knee cap as well. My knee hurts so badly at times it's as if it thinks to make me believe it would like to pop off from the swelling and the pain.

This shepherd has been home for two weeks now. The fog from the pain killers has lifted only somewhat. The pain has begun to break through the barrier a little more intensely every day. and every night, reminding me constantly that I am far from being myself, making me wonder if I shall ever be myself again. Who shall this shepherd be when this has become a long passed event rather than the event central to my life? And what shall I have learned if anything from it all? Not that I think one must always learn something from every experience. However, since this was a particularly intense one, experience, and covered a long period of time, as well as being ongoing, there may be a shift somewhere in me, off center, that can be looked at, I'm not sure. This has not been a simple thing.

Four kid goats were born since I've been incapacitated. Jeff Arnold has become my farm manager in my absence and doing a fine job of it. An incredibly fine job. He came to the hospital one day to tell me both Honey Merriman and her mother Adelaide Merriman had freshened with twins within an hour of each other in the carriage house. One set of doelings. The other set a buck and a doeling. Three to keep. One to sell. One little doeling is steel grey. The other two are white like their grandmother and great grandmother respectfully. Mrs. Merriman. I've seen them once when I first came home, but not since. I hope they will become tame to me. Adelaide, her daughter, Honey, still can't make up her mind. Mrs. Merriman is the sweetest, the mother and grandmother of each.

The chickens are laying. It's almost too cold to buy chicks although I've been thinking of it. Barred Rocks again. And some Araconas if I can get them. My beautiful Buff Orphingtons were a bit of a disappointment. They are laying, however, and I have soft cooked eggs for breakfast in the morning. That is a special thing. They may help me to find myself again. To remember what is special for me here.

Five lambs were born when I was in the hospital. The males are destined for some customers in December. The females shall probably stay with me here. They are a joy to watch leaping and dancing about in the field. Some unshorn lambs have fleeces so thick they appear to be as big as their mothers. And yet they still dive underneath them to nurse. We sheared some of the sheep on Saturday. The fleeces were nicer this year than ever. I used a pour-on insecticides this year and to my joy successfully eliminated all external parasites. Neither were there stress-lines in the fleeces. Particularly nice was a pure black fleece from the Prince of Finn-Landrace that is going to a new friend for her husband to spin into yarn for her to knit with. I wish I knew where to get my fleeces turned into knitting yarn. I've some dark grey fleeces that would make very nice sweaters. Not that I need any more sweaters. However, the temptation reigns supreme.

The dark green chaise that my family and I bought sits in royal splendor in the dining room next to the wall of windows overlooking the pastures. The first few days home were spent either on the bed made on the floor or if I could manage it, on the chaise watching the sheep. The pasture is low. But they are on it all day taking a break here and there to nibble on some hay in the barn. Watching the flock in the morning as they come out of the barn is a joy to me.

We are shearing again this weekend next to finish what was not done because of the slowing down the Martha Stewart photography shoot caused last weekend. However, I must note the number shorn with distractions was equal to or exceeded the numbers shorn in the early days here on the farm.

In the vague attempts to begin to try to find myself again, I decided to buy some more black currants to replace the several drought killed ones that I failed at keeping alive last year. I managed to go out to the "new garden" today and look for the survivors of my dreams. There were some. But not vigorous enough. I'll have to work harder this year. Not a bad thing. I am still limping. Stairs are difficult. The thought of putting my foot on a shovel is unbearable. But I may be able to organize the project and have Jeff dig the holes where the bushes originally were planted. And plant them myself.

The house does not seem to be mine. Many things were done in preparation for the Martha Stewart shoot last weekend. All very nice. However, many things were rearranged to accommodate the photographer's and art director's visions of my kitchen, dining room and house. They made pretty compositions of bowls of newly laid eggs and my antique sugar bowls. They even made a pretty composition of me holding a lamb on a stone wall. When, one of several times, I could no longer stand, I lay on the chaise by the window, holding my dog Glencora MacCluskie wiggling in my arms. The photographer took pictures of her, I hope, with me out of focus. I look at the remnants of the shoot, bowls of white lilacs, my dishes rearranged in the big glass cupboard, a row of tiny figurines of sheep in the dining room rather than the living room, and the chaos made in my summer bedroom of things tossed into it. The hall was scrubbed and waxed to within an inch of its life. A half a dozen baskets that held clothes and towels and sheets were thrown into the summer bedroom "for the moment". I found a cashmere sweater on the floor. The disarray, no matter how minor in total, contributes to my sense of disorientation. I am buying a new notebook today. The kind I've written in for several years. Five subject fine lines clean. Fresh. Thick. Empty. Perhaps that shall serve to anchor my mind. They usually are comprised of the lists. Things to do. To work. To create. Plans for gardens. The farm. Winter preparations. My life. Perhaps it shall help me become myself again.

There is a supplemental March Farm Story in the Farm Stories Archive

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