tending to

IMG_6474The light pouring in the kitchen window just above the sink felt very spring-like. Bright patches of blue sky were finding holes in the fast-moving grey and white clouds and flashing ever so brightly. As the sun was coming up in the eastern sky, my view out the window to the west was fully illuminated. The young buds and blooms gracing the tips of tree branches throughout the forest added a palette of fresh color. My hands were hot and soapy and busy tending to a neglected sinkful of dishes from the previous night. (When my crew was just too pooped out from a full day of tending to even consider dishes!) In times when my eyes were looking down on my work at the sink, I continued to be aware of a shadow that would quickly pass by, as if my peripheral vision was seeing a leaf being blown off of the roof. At one point I looked up just in time to catch the tail end of a phoebe, the source of the consistent shadow, landing just above the window. Ahhhh, I realized. She’s tending to her nest.IMG_6453There’s a whole lot of tending to that is going on ’round here right now. My, oh my there’s a lot. The greenhouse is at full capacity. The plant table is packed to the gills. Even after removing several trays of plants to be transplanted in the garden, more trays were germinating in the house which quickly filled in the open table space. The chick brooder that occupies half of the greenhouse’s back wall is a dizzying flurry of black and white peeping cheeping balls of fluff and Ira has a big livestock water tub as his brooder for his precious chicks (big enough so that he can sit in there and let them jump all over him), as well as a dog kennel for the nighttime warmth and safety of his broody hen and her chicks. And we did, in fact, put the woodstove (from the tool room in the barn) in the greenhouse so we could pump up the heat for plants and chicks, despite winter’s lingering chill. Eric has been dutifully getting up about 2 am each night (morning?) to tend to that fire. Bless him. So, when the whole family, the dog, and the cat pile in to the space, there’s scarcely room to turn around. But there’s so much life flowing in there, we all find it irresistible despite the cramped quarters. IMG_6562And then there’s the garden. Springtime + Garden = Tending. There’s really no way around that one, “reaping what you sow” and all. What a wonderful feeling it is to be back in the garden, too. After a longish winter, and with our staple food supplies beginning to dwindle, I nearly want to cry when I look at the long row of cut lettuce that will be ready for harvesting so soon!!! And seeing the strong stand of peas (it’s been awhile, but this year we outwitted the voles! haha!), spinach, onions, tiny little carrots, and beets. As soon as the soil dries out after all of this rain that we’ve been having, I will be incredibly eager to inaugurate the cultivating hoe for the season to tend to those precious crops.  IMG_6374My wool sheep needed a little tending to this week as well. Time to head to the parlor for a trim, ladies and gentleman. I am not a professional sheep shearer by any means, but I want to at least be able to get the job done with minimal stress on my sheep. With hand shears, to boot. I have sheared a few sheep long ago, wild and unruly Lincolns that basically had to be tackled, tied, and staked to get the job done. It was stressful. When I recently gave wool sheep another go, my experience with the Lincolns helped me to decide on a smaller breed that I could handle without having to hire a professional football player as an assistant. I chose the Shetland breed for their size and demeanor and have been so pleased with my choice. It helps that a few of them were bottle lambs (I know where you’re at, Robin!) and behave like big friendly dogs. IMG_6533IMG_6517I had super help from Eric, Jesse, and Hannah during the shearing process, and curious children as a perpetual audience. My main weakness was in being able to hold the sheep still while attempting to remove the wool at the same time (without accidentally jabbing a kicking sheep with my shears). By sheep number four, we found that I could catch the sheep and put her on her butt in position, then Eric would tie the back legs to a gate panel, and I could proceed pretty much on my own. A younger, stronger Cher could maybe have foregone the tying altogether, but I can swallow my pride on this one. I still feel good about a job well (enough) done. And my sheepies seem to be pleased with their haircuts. IMG_6543IMG_6549When the shearing was complete, my aching body (and I only sheared five sheep! and with assistants!) needed a little extra tending to!

right now :: hello & goodbye

IMG_6341 IMG_6342 IMG_6343 IMG_6344I guess it wouldn’t be spring without saying hello to some newly hatched chicks. This very determined (albeit very small) broody hen sat for a whopping 48 days (at least) before achieving the satisfaction of successfully hatching her peeps. She sat for one full incubation period (and then some) for a hatch of zero. Poor thing. Then Ira relocated her from where she had been sitting (up at Jesse and Hannah’s) to a little cage and stuck some fresh eggs under her. Well, that broody little hen sat and sat and do you know what? She proudly hatched all six of her eggs. 100% for mama hen! Hello sweet chicks!

Later in the day, we said a somewhat sad goodbye to our bull, Reuben. With so many of his offspring grazing the pastures now, it was time he became sire of a new herd. It was pretty hard to see him loaded in a trailer and headed away from the farm, though. He was kind of like the centerpiece of the livestock scene. And a table can look so boring without a good centerpiece, if you know what I mean. What a grand chap he was. Goodbye, old buddy…IMG_6346 IMG_6347 IMG_6348