I’ve been living here, on the farm, since July of 2018. It has evolved in amazing ways since the day I first arrived.
I met my husband in July. We seemed to have a lot in common. He lived about 2 hours north of me. I was in Bangor, a sort of nondescript little shopping town in the middle of Maine. My first husband, son and I moved from Prince Edward Island in 2007 because our son, always a cause for concern since the age of 14, could not find work on the island. My first husband and I would have been better off staying there. We didn’t.
The farm was just a 52-acre parcel with a house and workshop when The Shepherd bought it. He spent a year, before I came, fencing pasture, getting the breeders, fixing up the place to function as a true farm. He furnished the house from garage sales. Most of what he brought from New York City was tools, clothes and just a little furniture.
Now we have a gorgeous 24 x 60 foot sheep house. We built the second sheep house the year we got married and the third a year after. We found out the second one wasn’t big enough during our first lambing.
We went from 7 sheep when I arrived to 42 within 18 months. Then we got scared.
Forty-two sheep is too many. We thought we would keep that up, but one guy and 42 sheep is just a lot. And I had my knee replaced last year so I couldn’t do much.
And THEN the pandemic came along. Well, that was our first year of a sellable harvest. This year has been hard. Try selling lamb to people who have NEVER EATEN LAMB when there are no restaurants open, hardly anyone has a job and they are scared as shit they’re going to die. Not a good year to be in business.
For some reason, things seem to be lightening up. First off, the weather is fantastic. Sixty-five degrees today, the 22nd of March! We don’t have winters like this often. And people are buying sheep, not from freezer camp but live sheep. This is good.
I like selling live sheep because I know they are going to go as breeders and not be slaughtered. I have a big problem with slaughter!
We’re scaling back the sheep. They are great animals and easy to raise, but the financial incentive is missing. We take great care of them, including providing them with a grain supplement. We buy a ton of grain every other month. It’s over $10 a bag. Now if you can’t sell the meat hand over fist, why spend good money feeding a large flock? They have to have a supplement, they can’t survive on hay alone in the winter.
And we have other things we want to explore. This year I get to garden again. It killed me last year when I was recuperating from knee surgery. For some reason, in March of 2020, I thought I would be able to function as normal right after surgery. You know, 6 weeks recuperation and I expected to be dancing a jig and digging dirt. No. When the PA told me it would take A YEAR before I was healed, I panicked. And he was right. The recuperation was slow. He told me the surgeon was going to break my leg in two places. Well, it felt like it.
Plants will be arriving soon. The seeds are here. The new hydroponic garden thingie is already up and running and seeds are sprouting. I have heat mats and seed starting supplies. I don’t have my greenhouse yet (it’s only been 3 years now, since I was promised it) but I have land. Lots of lovely land just waiting for me to plant it.
I purchased four roses I have been coveting, three silver lace vines to grow up and hide things I don’t want to see, sweet woodruff for my shade garden by the house where someone screwed up my grass shoveling mulch over it. Who does that? Someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and just wants to be busy – even if the busy is pointless. I’m hoping when this frantic person arrives this summer, she has something to do with her so she doesn’t screw up anything. I’ll be out of town while she’s here and I doubt The Shepherd will try to control her. If I get back and my garden is fucked, I will not be happy.
He’s got the wood for a horizontal beehive which he had best be starting. We have live bees arriving mid-May and they are going to need a home. I will have to push, I know. Procrastination is a fine art with The Shepherd. I won’t mention my closet. Nope. You know, the one that was a 3 day job at most and is still in complete disarray, waiting for him to lay carpet. I told him we’re ditching the carpet and laying tile. It’s ridiculous to jump over unrolled carpeting so I can get my clothes. I was supposed to store a lot of stuff in there, but it’s all still in the bedroom waiting. It’s been waiting since August. I’m sick of it.
And there’s cheese. I can’t tell you how many wheels of cheese he’s made. I quit counting at 25. This cheese idea we had discussed at the beginning, but we were going to use sheep milk. Well, herding a sheep into a milking pen is about as easy as catching a thought. You can’t. And they would be stressed. Sigh. So then he finds a source for raw cow’s milk and the cheese saga begins. It was his first idea that he would get me the milk and I would make the cheese.
I had to inform him, not diplomatically, that I am not going into cheese production as a way to become a millionaire at my age. I would make a block or two of cheese for our use, but nothing he thinks of is for us alone. We can’t be self-sufficient because we waste too much time trying to find the magical way to make money in great piles. I think it’s because he’s a Leo. No way you’re going to be a millionaire making cheese. No way you’re going to be a millionaire selling honey either. You can maybe make some spending money, but that is about it.
We still have two ewes we’re waiting on. For some reason, #227 just won’t part with whatever is making her look like the Goodyear Blimp on Steroids! I want lambing done! I always worry about the girls even though we’ve only lost a few lambs. That’s heartbreaking. When I have one who seems to be taking a long time, I worry.
We’re having another unusual March day in The County ………………. guess we’ll see what we can get done today!