Saturday, October 15, 2011

more summer 2011 photos

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Farewell farmhouse on the hill

So here I am, in exile once again, surrounded by boxes and chaos in this gigantic flyridden house while my own sweet unassuming farmhouse on the hill in donegal is ripped open and renovated to suit the tasteless young. they took out the kitchen windows overlooking the orchard...too old fashioned they said, those tall windows that brought the morning sun and the dawn and the apple blossom vistas of June. 
More counterspace and more cupboards are needed for this family who dines more often than not, on take out French fries and burgers. My kitchen was a country cooks kitchen, used to can and preserve and stew and knead and puree and stir. The wood stove used for rising bread dough, simmering soup, rendering lard, drying apples, and warming chilled lambs.
Who can blame them, the tile was dated and less than pristine, the old hardwood floor worn and dull, the cupboards less than functional. I was happy with it this way, from my house I know what it might be like to love one's old and shabby spouse with no desire to remake or replace with someone new. 
I went with good graces, leaving most of the final moving to Tom and our helpers, mike and Amal. I really prefer to recall it as I left it, before the gaping holes and shiny new fixtures appear. I came back once to load dressers and cabinets and to say goodbye to the injured calf and to pour iodine over it's infected leg. 
On my final Thursday evening last week, I went out in the field with the sheep and sat on the flat rock in the setting sunshine. The trees blazed scarlet. Fall coolness in the air. I will miss this most of all: this astonishing summer as a shepherd, my life among the sheep. Normal life seems barren somehow, preoccupied with dish washing and floor sweeping and meals eaten sitting down at the table. I miss my hastily packed lunches of nuts and seeds and garden tomatoes and orchard apples and hard boiled eggs. My late afternoon wine spritzers on the stone pile.
My dinners eaten in the truck or on the wagon. I miss my ever active interaction with the ewes and lambs...little lamb swarmings, the girls nosing around my lunch bag, the nibbling and licking and chewing at my clothes and hair and my book and my chair. I miss the drama of the coyote and the yosimite Sam comedy of my gunfire. I miss the life and death struggle to haul Penelope injured,  into the shelter of the barn, the wild sudden rainstorms with the wind tossing branches and a seething hostile lightening sky. I miss the bird flocks swooping and settling, the big buck crossing upwind, the Canada geese in the wet dip....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

our wwoofers (helpxers) summer 2011

we are mostly moved to Bulger Rd with the sheep safely? enclosed by over a thousand dollars worth of movable electronet fencing...and none too soon as I heard coyotes right behind the corral two nights ago. The meat bird chicks are growing and eating ravenously and we just brought the laying hens and settled them into a wired enclosure in the big barn. They'll get their very own chicken coop very shortly but priority now is bringing the piggies over. It has been a hectic two weeks and I don't know how we would have accomplished all we needed to do without Mike and Amal who worked tirelessly alongside us as we all moved furniture and livestock and feed barrels and freezers and frozen meat and books and fences and cheesemaking equipment and so on. We had a lot of fun with them, great meals and were able to take a day off last week to visit the fall colours in Algonquin. Earlier this summer, our lives were made easier with our first two helpers, Elsa and Etienne from France who were fabulous shepherds and spent hours in the field with the flock, and then our cheerful Australian Isaac who also put in his time in the field as well as digging post holes at the new farm, moving bales and baking a darn good apple pie. Thanks to all of them and wish them luck and fun in their future travels.