…don’t know what they are, but I do know what they mean…
Life has been going at about 80MPH lately – and it all was leading up to the big social event we had on Saturday: the 2nd Annual Winter Gathering … it is a time for all the vendors, volunteers, patrons and friends of Orange County HomeGrown Farmers Markets to get together to eat, laugh, talk, play music and generally have a good time. Of course, this was also my big introduction to the larger group of people and a chance for me to meet many in person. Miles, the newspaper guy was there, and took pictures of the “installation ceremony” that took place. Too funny – I was “knighted” with a small shovel, and took an oath to serve…all with comedic elements! So many hugs and well wishes: I can’t imagine feeling more loved or welcomed into a community…
The night before, Tye and I finally went out on a ‘date night’ and went to Dinkys, an Amish auction. Woo-hoo! We came home with one bottle baby lamb which we named Lucy because she’s a redhead, one Boer doe, which we named Ethel and 3 feeder pigs (still working on names for them)! Can you say BACON!?!
As if this weren’t enough fun – FuN- FUN! We went out on a double date with my brother and his wife on Saturday night, too! Big trip to the ‘big city’! The guys went to Harbor Freight while we gals made a wondrous pass through Hobby Lobby, followed by dinner at an Asian restaurant (laughing so much that we didn’t mind the quality of the food), and then a trek through to a large store called Meijer. Like a Super Wal-Mart on steroids, this place had everything from garden supplies to Parmeggiano-Reggiano (the real deal) and Irish White Cheddar. In fact, the cheese selection brought a tear to my eye. It might not be The Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley, CA, but it was the largest selection I’ve seen to date since moving here.
Sunday was warm and clear – spent the day in a sleeveless tee-shirt as we did work around the farm. We got the pigs moved into their new habitat so they can start tilling up the garden, as well as set up a place for Lucy and her buddy Ethel.
Our dairy goats are due to have babies this month; and our Dorper ewes should be having babies shortly thereafter. Chickens are producing at a rapid rate: Tye is collecting eggs 2x per day and we are pulling 11 to 12 eggs daily! The turkeys are laying about 1 to 2 eggs, every other day. We’ve found a shearer for the llamas, and will do a full body shear in May (hopefully) to clean them up, and then next year we should have decent fiber to work with.
But as you know: if you’re going to dance to the piper’s tunes, eventually you have to pay the piper his due. Thus, all my socializing and frolicking landed me with a bit of the ‘ick’ that is going around and has cost me a trip to Indianapolis today. But I don’t regret a minute of everything we did – and if I had to do over again, the only thing I might change would be…nothing! After all, by having to pay the piper, I’ve managed to slow down enough to share all of the latest happenings with you.
One of the many wonderful and unique places on our land, this is a view over the stone basin area. It would make an awesome natural amphitheater or a secluded place to think.
The price was right: free! And they haltered, led, loaded, and traveled in the trailer very easily. I can’t wait to get some fiber off of them and see what we can do with it. I did bring a little ‘dred lock’ in from Boomer – which Trixie, our little female kitten, thought was great fun as a cat toy. I am hoping that if we can get enough clean fiber (after I skirt and monkey-pick), maybe I can barter with some local spinners to spin it out for me. It is entirely possible that this time next year I’ll be sporting a llama scarf or hat. Wouldn’t that be something?
Lately my life has felt a lot like swimming.
Back when I was a kid and didn’t know how to swim properly, it was fun to splash around in the pool and play games like Marco/Polo or diving for rocks, pennies, etc. But then came the day when we kids were taken to formal swimming lessons. “It’s for your own good, so you won’t drown”…Those lessons took the joy out of playing in the water. Ever since then, when I get in a pool, I don’t quite know what to do anymore. I don’t like swimming laps and playing doesn’t seem right. Floating around is looked upon as lazy and well, as I said before, I don’t like swimming laps. So what do you do when you don’t know what to do?
I have spent a great deal of my time working at one task or another. “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”. That one was drilled into me at an early age. There was always something to be done, and one should get started at the first opening of their eyes in the morning and keep going until the last lamp has been turned off for the night. This is difficult when one works from home. Boundaries are blurred: the office is never closed. Weekends look just like weekdays. Vacation days are tantamount to time being frittered away.
It is because of this conditioning that when I sit at my computer to ‘play’ – it somehow seems wasteful and lazy. When I want to write, as I am now, I battle the demons that say “You’re wasting time. You need to be doing work that earns a paycheck.” Sometimes those demons are in my head. And sometimes they take the form of the tone I get from others who are constantly asking me, “When are you getting paid?” or “Are they paying you for that?” or worse still, “Aren’t you done with that work yet?”
I guess the answer to my question is, as it has been all along: when you don’t know what to do, you work. Work is what I do.
I believe that if we didn’t have down times, low times, or sad times, then we couldn’t fully appreciate the up times, the high times or the joyous times we encounter. Today was a reminder of that.
Tye had gone out to walk along the outer pasture areas to look for…well, it doesn’t really matter. What he found was our cat, Jinx, deceased. It was recent, as he wasn’t soaked by the steady rain we had experienced. It didn’t look like foul play or fowl play (please allow me a farmer pun); in fact he appeared completely intact. In fact, it was as if he had suffered a heart attack and died. No sign of struggle (thank goodness). Tye had to come inside and tell me. At first it didn’t register. And then it hit me.
Jinx was born as an outdoor kitten. We had been looking for an unusual cat – and Jinx filled the bill nicely. He was polydactyl – also called a Hemingway cat. He was just 3 toes shy of the world record; he looked like he had double hands; he could pick up a tennis ball with a single paw. His tail was a full-sized tail that was twisted and knotted internally so that he appeared to have an overgrown bunny puff and not a real tail at all. He was a big kitty: close to 20 lbs. And a total love. I would hold him in my arms and tell him to “be a baby” and he would lay back, looking at the world upside down and purr in that deep chesty purr that vibrated from deep inside. He liked to sit on me when I was trying to work on my computer. It wasn’t always easy to do, but I’d work around him.
I had never been a cat person. Then along came Jinx and he changed my mind. Tye likes to say that it was because I had never raised one from a kitten. All I know is that I loved that cat – and I know he loved me.
Jinx: I loved you first, I loved you best. You will never, ever be forgotten. Rest in peace…you’ll always be my baby.
I have been waiting patiently for the girls to start laying. I was even starting to doubt if they ever would…and then in comes Tye with first one, then two more precious, lovely eggs!
We shall treasure these, cooked over medium atop some fresh bread.
I can’t believe that the month of November has almost passed and I haven’t made a single post. In my defense, it has been a difficult month to say the least, and right now I am clinging to the list of things I am thankful for in order to get through each day. To quote Willie Nelson, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
I am blessed: to have been able to move near my brother, his wife and children and her extended family. After so many years without, this holiday season will be celebrated with family.
I am blessed: to have the basics of what I need. I read somewhere that instead of being mournful for what I don’t have, I should be grateful for what I don’t have that I wouldn’t want. Think on that a second. Oh yeah…so many things there!
I am blessed: to have landed in a community that has an active group of people who think like we do. People that believe that a healthy community is a strong community, both physically and in spirit. People who reach out to help each other in their times of need or just to lend a helping hand to get a difficult job done.
I am blessed: to be able to stay connected with those I left behind. When we were preparing to leave, there were a few who I worried about and thought I would hear from more often; and others that I didn’t realize would care so much. The latter became the positive lifeline I needed as I have dealt with huge adjustments which often blind-side me.
I am blessed: by all the little things. Like pennies in a jar, they add up to more than I thought and more than fills the immediate need. Each little thing reinforces that we are where we are meant to be and that gives me comfort when doubt tries to sneak in.
If it weren’t for the fact that it was late and we were running out of time…I might have held the microphone and had an opportunity to speak at my high school reunion last night. This is an amazing prospect for one who liked to think that she was invisible back then (although most people are quick to tell me that I was sorely mistaken!).
In the split second it took to register that the opportunity was within my grasp, the emcee stepped in and moved us on to the raffle and recognitions time…and the evening came to a close.
But I still have something to say…
In this time of reconnection and festivity, we need to also remember those who were not with us. Those who had passed on, (too young! too young!); those who were physically unable to attend due to personal illness or like many, the responsibility of caring for someone – like children or even parents; those who, in this economy, were not able to come be with us not for lack of desire, but for the hard choices that have to be made to keep roofs over heads and food on tables. Their pain is every bit as real – and each one of us could be in that situation in the blink of an eye.
No matter what we might think and believe about ourselves, one truth remains: we are who we are because of and sometimes in spite of our circumstances. I learned this in Mr. Peters’ freshman psych class, when we had to write our philosophy of life:
I had to go through what I went through to be where I am.
Funny how this is as true now as it was then…if not more so.
So many said to me, “You haven’t changed a bit.”
Yes – I am older, as we all are. Yes, this is my hair color – I paid for it – it’s mine! Yes, I have wrinkles and spots and scars. But they are what enabled me to be there to reminisce and reconnect with so many dear souls. I had to go through what I went through to be where I am. And I like where I am.