Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Goose Bumps

I've been asked by many to share a bit more on our beginnings....

So, as it began 5 years ago, I bought a farm because I had a dream to commune with mother nature. 25 years in one career had me a bit restless..."there must be more meaning in my day/life?" Everything was comfortable; friends, job, home... but empty. Against all advice and odds, I did it.

I became the proud owner of 60 beautiful acres in rural Alamance county, NC. What gave me faith in my decision? The goose bumps I got when I looked out over the unobstructed pastures. Crazy, right? I moved from city life, a single gal that enjoyed all the comforts of a thriving populated area. The ease of grabbing a fabulous bite of food with a friend or a place to shop that might carry any strange ingredient/gift I wanted. I moved from a home that I'd created, "just so". Now, here I was in the most secluded of places, alone. What had I done? The house needed ALOT of work and I knew not how to drive a tractor. If I needed anything from any store...20 minutes thru the country! OMG! Well, as I was raised, "pick your self up by your boot straps Missy and DEAL." I knew I just had to move forward, one step in front of the other. Never a day past that I couldn't find those goose bumps in something. I bought a pick up (every farm needs one) and named her Bessie, then realizing my need for more male energy around the farm, I changed her name to, Floyd (now a he) and together we rode the terrain, often spending nights in the middle of a field with a glass of wine and the stars above...jealous yet? Well let me tell you I'd bitten off ALOT. There is something freeing and youthful about putting yourself in a place that you know absolutely nothing, so I felt good in that...but there was so much I'd taken lightly. I threw myself into everything educational I could find, like a sponge I soaked up every tid bit that came my way. Then I came across an organization called ALBC, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. I was so interested in the organization and their mission to preserve breeds of livestock near extinction, all because the animals can't keep up to the demands of large farm operations...for one reason or another (they don't grow fast enough or large enough for example). I focused on the Navajo Churro . Remember, I still wasn't sure how this was going to take shape. After I chose the breed of sheep Slow Food named the Navajo Churro on their Ark of Taste, "a cherished food worth saving"...I knew my mission was forming. My goodness, I had fences to build, sheep to get from the west to the east...and somehow pay the mortgage? I was lucky enough to come from a career that allowed me some transition.
While I was managing one new adventure to the next I didn't notice a very handsome fella came into the picture. In all my years of trying so hard to meet the right person, here I was in my flannel PJ's talking about my dreams and showing him 100 year old hand dug wells on the farm...when it hit, LOVE like I never could have imagined.

I'm sharing this bit of the story because I believe when I followed my heart, love found me!

No matter what has happened or what I (we) face on this farm today, I can find those goose bumps. I'm not really surprised by them anymore but they can, do, and always will take my breath away... I believe more then ever, we must have faith in our feelings...no matter how crazy they might feel.

Soon, we had sheep, llama's, guinea hens, chickens, a rooster named Richard (great story)
and a whole lota wool! A barn full to be exact. I knew nothing to do with wool, neither did John. John had commented we had to do something with it, give it away or something. It felt so disrespectful, to raise a breed of sheep that needs to survive...not just live...to take their wool and dispose of it! I had to figure out something. One day at the farmers market a customer came to me and asked if I'd ever heard of such a thing as wool dryer balls, not! Well I had to do some research and I figured it was a way to help use some of this wool. Not knowing much we started selling our Eco-Friendly Wool Dryer Balls at the Durham Farmers market. I had NO idea how these would be received.

There is so much about this product, how it's made, what it's made with (and how that's grown), what it does for the end user (saves $, saves clothing, helps save the enviornment) and finally that it is compostable and/or renewable. Synchronicity exists all through this story and I believe these wool dryer balls chose their time to bring such a product front and center at a time when folks want to be sustainable, responsible, all the while protecting the health of their loved ones. These crazy wool balls are meant to be on this planet, NOW. I'm just one of the lucky ones that get to help them on their way....(again, I get GOOSE BUMPS)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another aHaa Moment in Farming

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Over the last 4 years on this farm I have had many an ahaa moment.

I am constantly amazed at man's involvement with the state of our farming and livestock. As most of you have heard me say, sheep (and other livestock) do know how to tend to their needs if given the habitat to do so. We manicure our pastures and plant single variety (not native) grasses. What we have are critters unable to battle the issues they have always been faced with. One of the most worrisome issues with sheep (and goats) today is internal parasites and the very cause (in my opinion) is what we have done to their desired forage. Then, when faced with the outcomes of increased parasite loads we have over medicated with the help of a pharmaceutical industry willing to supply whatever DRUG we need. Now we have worms that we cannot get rid of! Scary, yes. But there is always a silver lining and to me the farms and farmers trying to approach this naturally are finding amazing stuff. What amazes me most is our new found remedies are ways of our ancestors...nothing new at all! While attending a holistic class on ruminants (cattle and sheep) I heard the most amazing tale from one of the attendees. He asked the vet(traditional turned holistic) why his flock of sheep kept coming home with black noses. The vet asked if he had black walnut trees. YES! the farmer replied. The sheep know/knew that black walnut is a deterrent to internal parasites. Now, get this garlic is being used with huge success on farms. Wormwood....now, how did it get that name so long ago? My most recent find is a soap made by Shakley products for over 40 years. Farmers have been worming with this all natural soap successfully for 40 or more years!

I absolutely love to understand how we evolve thru history. In this scenario I am so happy that we're realizing the value in the ways of the past!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Farmers Wearing Lace?

It has come to my attention, more then once, that folks might think female farmers wouldn't wear lace. Understanding as I am I will try to give them credit for why they might think that. You might not see the haute couture behind my Carhart overalls but I suggest you not underestimate what goes underneath ...
I mean really, can't we drive tractors and wear lace?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Girls with no Coats

February 28th we have scheduled shearing day 2010. We have had such an extreme winter I can only hope these sheep have more in their closets? We have a professional shearer come to the farm so we have to schedule in advance. Last year, this date would have been better then our chosen March date which was a down pour...but no freezing temps. Surely, any sheep on my farm would have a fashion fall back, wouldn't they? Alas, the event must go on. The day begins early so we require a really good nights rest. We shear the rams (boys)1st. As many of you know we have 2 adult rams, Mi Sueno (my dream) and Kola (my friend). Both characters by their own rites. Every time these guys have to reacquaint themselves it's a site not for the faint of heart. Although I quickly remove my self to the ever so sweet and reasonable gals, the "ramming" noise reverberates about the whole farm! Now these two have been in the same pasture since January. Without fail, when they loose that wool they do not recognize each others naked selves and so it goes again. Yes, boys will be boys.
Then, on to the girls. One might think an easier task but shear numbers contradict that. We have some 35 girls this year!
It will be a fun day. It always is. Lots of folks come to see something they've never before and may never again experience. We have a nice warm lunch around noon. Our shearer loves to educate and share. The farm gets bigger every year. Yes, a bigger job ahead but it marks and interesting phase each year for me. We are soon to see all the littlest ones hitting the ground, my very favorite time on the farm.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Midnite on the farm

What are you thinking? Is she about to describe the star lit skies? The moon across the pond? Nope, nothing so obvious....John and I put on our insulated Carharts and with flash light in hand to wrastle a guinea hen! As you may or may not know, guineas are impossible to catch unless they're roosting...or sleeping as it is. They get high in the rafters of the barn and "sleep" and are almost blind without light. Problem was one of the guinea hens had gotten string (goodness only knows where she got it) wrapped around and around and around her little (very dangerous) legs. Knowing this was a difficult resolve I had watched her closely for several days, hoping she would get it off but no luck, in fact it seemed to get more tangled. So, our only resolve was a mid night trek to the barn. We had to be very quite, those of you who know me know how hard that is for me. John got the ladder and up he went...I knew he was nervous, staring upward at those guinea behinds, all in a row, and very sharp talons. He grabbed and I supported his legs as he walked back down the ladder with a screaming guinea hen...you'd think we we're killing her! Anyway, out I brought my scissors while he so gently held her screaming self....we got the string OFF...back to the house we went, mind you it was about 11 degrees at that moment. Our heads hit the pillows feeling so thankful we were able to help her. It will take her awhile, as of today, 2 days after the event ...all she remembers is that duo with the flash light that interuppted her night sleep. All in a day on the farm....after midnight!