like sardines

IMG_8441Twelve and a half hours of non-stop driving. In the dark of the night. In the rain. With three kids and all cargo in the back seat of the truck. And the added bonus of ten (yes, ten) Shetland ewes and lambs in the bed of the truck. Sound like fun?

Maybe fun isn’t the right word to describe what Eric and I felt when we were hurtling down the highway, packed in like sardines, driving in the rainy darkness (at least it wasn’t snow), with our precious children sleeping fitfully in their seats, and a load of sheep to boot. Maybe stressful might be a more fitting description of our circumstances.

Mind you, the entire scene was self-inflicted. We traveled to Pennsylvania for the Thanksgiving holiday to visit Eric’s family. His sister, Hannah, lives with her partner on an incredibly bountiful farm, Village Acres Farm, which was the destination of our journey. Shortly after arriving, the food started flowing. It never really stopped flowing, either, for the entire two and a half days we were visiting. Mercy, we ate like kings and queens. All of Eric’s siblings and his father were able to come for the gathering so that itself was a pretty rare occurrence. So to then be loaded to the gills with farm raised bounty and goodness… wow. IMG_8442So, the sheep came into this equation because Hannah knows a whole slew of farming folks in PA. Some friends of hers, at Pairodox Farm, were selling their flock of Shetlands and she had the notion that I might be interested in some (and that it might be a good excuse for my family to make the trek to PA!) My niece, who is quite a skilled knitter and spinner, was interested in increasing the size of her flock, too. So she spent time selecting the sheep for both of our flocks. She did a fine job of it, too. I am so pleased with these new sheep, I find myself looking for excuses to go up to the pasture! IMG_8443So, long story short, we made the journey… safely arriving at the farm just before sunrise on Monday. Our plan was to stop at a hotel for a rest somewhere along the way home, but the temperatures were in the low sixties… too hot for the wool bearing critters that were packed in the back of the truck to sit still and not have the air movement around them. So we pushed on through. Eric did all of the driving, bless him. I know he loves me because he wasn’t feeling too thrilled with the idea of more mouths to feed on the farm just as winter is setting in… but he made a major and loving sacrifice for me and my crazy obsession with wool. But now that he sees just how beautiful this little flock of mine is, I think he’s a tad obsessed, too. The shepherd in him just can’t resist. Now, if I can just get a sweater made for him from some of that luscious wool, then I can give him a giant, warm, fuzzy, heartfelt thank you.10733590_10205395566712492_4437547705002951676_o{And a big thank you to Hannah, Debra, Chandler, and Owen for such a wonderful visit and for helping fuel my fire for wool. And thanks to the folks at Pairodox Farm for their care in raising such exquisite sheep!}

5 thoughts on “like sardines

  1. You’re kidding me!! Village Acres is the CSA that we are members of! I will be picking up my weekly share this afternoon in State College, a bit north of where they live. This world is such a small place sometimes – amazing!

    • Holy cow! That is totally amazing! I absolutely love small world coincidences! Makes me feel warm inside, you know? And you are getting some mighty fine produce in your CSA share! Enjoy!

  2. Hi there Cher … this comment is coming your way from Dave at Pairodox Farm! Hannah was kind enough to pass along the link to your blog and I am so happy that she did. I had asked whether a photo of the sheep in their new digs might be forthcoming … and here they are. Everyone looks just fine. Your story of the road trip south reminded me of a similar one that we made when we made the move from Indiana. Our animals, including sheep, goats, dogs, cats, and chickens were piled into the rear compartment of a Ryder rental truck (there was nothing in the rental contract which prohibited the transport of livestock – so we assumed we were OK) for the long night’s journey. We arrived in PA safe-and-sound and it would appear that you all did as well – I am glad. I wonder, in your part of the world, will you have snow cover over winter or will your pastures remain every-so-slightly green until spring? We shear once per year, so your girls will be due in May. Two of the ewes ran with one of our breeding rams between 10/15 and (nearly) 12/1 .. so, six weeks give-or-take. That means your lambing window will open on March 9 and close on April 25. The very best of luck with them all. If you ever have any questions, please do get in touch. Thanks also for linking my farm blog here … have you checked it out … there’s a post, from several weeks ago, that talks about our flock dispersal. It concludes by saying we are unhappy about the process but pleased with the prospect of all of our animals going to very good and caring people! Thanks much for your willingness to look after these beautiful animals. Dave (+ Joanna)

    • Hi Dave! Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment and especially thank you for the lovely sheep. They seem to be settling in just fine. I always worry about the stress of transport, but so far don’t see any problems arising from the relocation. I put my young ram in with the ewes today. He seems a bit overwhelmed right now, but after a few days I think he should adjust. I am curious about your breeding ram. If I get a ram lamb from one of the ewes that ran with him, I might like to register him to become my new herd sire so that I can then register all of my lambs in the future. (My young ram came from a registered sire, but his dam is not registered.) I suppose in order to register him I might need the sire’s number? Sorry, I’m new to the world of registering animals!
      We move our livestock on pasture twice per day (most of the time) and we seldom have any snow cover. Very rarely over the last few years. We also feed hay as necessary throughout the colder months. They have access to kelp, salt, and a mineral mix (from Pat Colby). What minerals, if any, did you use with your sheep? Did you ever have parasite issues, and if so what measures did you take to resolve the problems?
      Oh, I appreciate this connection so much! Thank you for your time…
      All the best,

  3. The girls, Ione and Chloe, ran with Siegfried. If you should lamb a ram in the spring the little one can certainly be registered with NASSA (are you a member?), I can provide all the necessary information when the time comes. That ram lamb will then produce register-eligible offspring when crossed with registered ewes. NASSA holds a firm line in that only breedings between registered animals can produce animals that can be registered. There’s nothing like grade registration of the sort which is allowed by many goat breeders and cattle breeders associations. We feed a loose mineral salt mix which is low in copper and supplemented with selenium (you should check to see whether you are selenium deficient in your part of KY). Parasites! We have selected for and culled heavily for parasite resistance in our flock for more than 20 years. Having said that, we typically worm, prophylactically with Ivermectin once each year, usually at shearing. The lambs, especially, seem to go through a period when they are susceptible to tapeworms in the spring and early summer and we control that with a small dose of fenbendazole paste. They develop some resistance as yearlings and adults. Please do get back in touch with any and all questions. It’s never, ever, a problem to help out when and if we can. D

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