“Life has a way of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen at once.” – Unknown
Where do I begin… Grant has been gone so I am tending to the farm by myself while working a full-time job. It has proven challenging. Most of all I am learning that my wildest dreams and visions can’t come to fruition in a week, month, or even a year. There is just too much to do and why rush through it all? Well, things hit a head when Grant left and the sheep decided to go on a two day adventure around the neighborhood. Thankfully they were found in the neighbor’s driveway and returned to their pen eventually, but only after two nights out on their own. All of my energy went into looking for the sheep. I was spread too thin and very emotional about the loss of the sheep. I thought surely one night out of their pen would prove fatal. Thankfully I was wrong! While those couple of days were very difficult for me I learned some extremely valuable lessons and was able to build community in the process.
The first lesson I have learned since being here on the farm is patience. I have always struggled with patience, but now it affects more than just me when I rush. It affects the animals well-being also. One of my neighbors let me in on a little secret: add one thing at a time and perfect that one thing. Do not try to bring three different projects to life simultaneously. You will be spread too thin and none of the jobs will be done to your satisfaction. I have to admit I rushed into bringing sheep home because it was a special deal for a starter flock of this wonderful breed of dairy sheep that I didn’t think we would find again until next year. We don’t have the full 40 acres fenced in yet so the sheep are stuck in a modest 330 sq. ft. pen until we finish fencing, which is still larger than their pen at their prior home, but I think they need much more room to roam. In the meantime, I had to purchase hay to supplement their diet since their grazing is limited. I’ve also added a mineral block to their diet to help ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. They are now happy and comfortable. Not quite as happy as being free range, but it will work temporarily until the larger fence is completed!
Note: If your sheep are going to free range, you better have a shepherd with them!
There is no way to be prepared if you rush, especially with an animal that is new to you. I am completely new to sheep. There is a lot to know and I can’t learn it all overnight. What I have learned to do is spend time watching their behavior. I know their natural behavior is either to be eating or chewing their cud. They should be grazing most of the day so if they aren’t there is likely an issue. Also, if a sheep is off on it’s own that is a sign that something is up. They are herd animals and usually stick together in case of predators. It can be very costly to learn as you go. It is much more effective to learn about anything whether it be a build project or a new critter BEFORE starting or bringing an animal home.
Lastly, I learned how much I lean on Grant to get me going on certain things. That is a wonderful dynamic of ours. I can get him to STOP working and he can get me to START! I am completely capable of doing projects on my own. I know how to use power tools, build, etc. however, somehow when he is away I freeze up instead of taking the initial step. At least I recognize it, right? Well, the sheep ran off and silly me left the key in the ATV turned over so the battery died the night before. Once the sheep were gone I couldn’t chase them down easily. I drove around on the roads, but that didn’t provide a good enough view. They are so hard to spot in tall grass. I needed to jump the ATV. It took me a day to just DO IT! Dismantle the rack Grant made, take the seat off, and clip on the jumper cables. IT WAS THAT EASY! For some reason I was too frantic to think clearly. Grant has the ability to think quickly in pressuring situations. I’m so grateful to have him, however I am very thankful for this opportunity to learn what I alone am capable of. Many people said being alone up here for two weeks was crazy. I definitely had a couple of days of crazy, but things are looking up. Through all of the chaos of the past week I was able to meet quite a few people in my community and every single one of them has been so helpful and kind, offering to help me in any way they could. I am so excited to live in a place where people don’t rush or ignore one another, they wave, smile, and love to chat! I absolutely do not wish the sheep had run away, but I am very grateful for the awakening. I have been humbled, yet I also gained confidence as an individual. I knew before we moved up here this wasn’t going to be easy and that has tested us for sure. Even so, it has been empowering and rewarding to have to put in some effort to just live life every day. With patience and a little blood, sweat, and tears (a lot of tears) I can do anything. We all can. Things will always work out in the end…
Things Work Out
Poet: Edgar A. Guest
Because it rains when we wish it wouldn’t,
Because men do what they often shouldn’t,
Because crops fail, and plans go wrong-
Some of us grumble all day long.
But somehow, in spite of the care and doubt,
It seems at last that things work out.
Because we lose where we hoped to gain,
Because we suffer a little pain,
Because we must work when we’d like to play-
Some of us whimper along life’s way.
But somehow, as day always follows the night,
Most of our troubles work out all right.
Because we cannot forever smile,
Because we must trudge in the dust awhile,
Because we think that the way is long-
Some of us whimper that life’s all wrong.
But somehow we live and our sky grows bright,
And everything seems to work out all right.
So bend to your trouble and meet your care,
For the clouds must break, and the sky grow fair.
Let the rain come down, as it must and will,
But keep on working and hoping still.
For in spite of the grumblers who stand about,
Somehow, it seems, all things work out.