Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

That's when I sat down at the wheel.....

I know I often refer to astrology and most notably to the plight of our little chaos inducing backwards and angry planet Mercury but this time it cannot be helped. I've been absent from the blog because the screw-up fairy seems to have rented a room in our otherwise peaceful (whew - I'm getting too old to dodge those bolts of lightening) homestead. I looked to astrology for comfort, maybe a notice of when this reign of terror may end, a light of hope, maybe? They gave me this: Basically, this all began three weeks ago and though it ends on February 19, it doesn't REALLY end until March 10. Even better, it is most potent in the week leading up to Feb. 19. Let me take you on a quick journey of the last six days. There are no cutesy lamb pics - you will soon find out why and there is much consolation from handspun skeins of yarn, sitting aside the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hold on, here we go:

gimme handspun loveValentine's Day was off to a smashing start (hey, I said smashing - that's so appropriate) with much in the way of mechanical challenges and a thoroughly exhausting day. Hubster and I agreed to forgo any 'couple-y' type of celebration and called a game night with Things 1, 2, & 3. As is usually the case, they went upstairs to get their beds straightened out, feed all night-loving pets, and get all ready to be tucked into bed after playing games. Thing 2 came downstairs and in a broken, soft voice said, "Dad, Sam won't wake up". Let me tell you about our Sam. Before he came to live with us, we had Sam 1 - whom thing 2 thoroughly adored and who was an unfortunate lesson for us in what a determined cat can do to a cheap pet store cage in pursuit of a hamster. He was devastated. I didn't mention 'another hamster' for quite some time and we just tried to be supportive but I have to admit, I was really relieved when he said he was ready to another hamster. This time, we did it right. Hubster built an indestructible cage of awesome proportions. We brought Sam 2 home and I hoped all would be well. There was some pain, the adjustment period of realizing that though he was an excellent hamster, he was not Sam 1, and then things clicked! They became best buddies. Everyone loved Sam. For three long years (yes, that's an impressive life span for a hamster - especially one who was more than spoilt on the morsels of cheese, shrimp, fish, and dried nuts and fruit that thing 2 cached for him every time we ate - carefully stealing away a little treat for his pal and taking it up to him directly after finishing his own meal (go ahead, grab a tissue, now - say awwh). That is why we were all reduced to sobbing when we found him curled up in his shaving and wool bed, arms in a peaceful sleep pose, with a bit of cheese next to him.

**We go, now, to the wheel and seek instant gratification and healing by picking out some sure-to-please mermaid roving and maybe a bit of silk as well, can you blame me?**

gimme handspun loveThat, alone, danged near killed me - watching your own child's heart break is quite possibly the worst form of torture available. Then, we were faced with the cruel realities of death in Maine during the winter. We couldn't bury the little guy - there's no digging in the ground even if you do dig down into the 4+ foot snowbanks. Besides, the cats would likely un-earth any attempts and cause total sorrow. We settled on a humane, clean, and sound option - though it was very hard for us parents to actually force ourselves to do. We emptied the stove, made a fire of some burial appropriate woods, put him in a little box with some flowers, cheese, a few meals, and cremated him in our kitchen. Call us wooses if you want, but we sobbed through the whole thing.

** Aww, you're huring - have some sparkly purple with mohair loop to play with. There, that's better, hmm? ***

Our fortunes didn't change much as Friday and Saturday were laden with more defunked happenstances that seem to pale so much in light of the last three days that I can barely remember them to write them here. All I know is that we consistently went to bed exhausted beyond belief and I think the earliest night was Friday at 1:30 a.m. That would be alright if we were celebrating but I think we were working straight through. Then, Sunday morning, just about 1 hr. after Hubster had done one of his 5 barn checks a day (more if there is lambing going on + add that thing 2 checks twice a day when he does his chores, my checking and either of the other things random checks - just say we're in the barn alot) all hell broke loose. Best as we can piece things together, here is what happened:

gimme handspun loveRemember our first lamb this season? The cute little ewe? We named her 'Tink' because she is such a cheery little thing. Later reflection led us to realize that we named #7's ewe from last year "Poppy" on account of her strange ability to hop like a bunny - only she's less agile than a bunny and looks more like a jack in the box springing into the air and bobbling around while doing it. Well, it would seem that 'Tink' got a little excitable in the nursery ( our round barn is sectioned off in pie wedges. 1/2 of the pie is for mamas with babes, 1/4 is for rams and whethers, and 1/4 is for yearling ewes not bred yet (though they will go in with the mamas once all the lambs are about a week old and know their mamas enough not to try to nurse from the yearlings - which really irks them and they sometimes get rough with the babies who are persistent in their attempts. The exception to this pie is one strangely shaped cusp of the circle just inside the door that houses the farm pig. 'Tink' seems to have sprung over the 3.5 foot walls of solid wood in the nursery. This likely caused her and her mum great stress and in her desperation to get back in - she wiggled into the gate of the pigpen. By the time we got to the barn, she'd already tried to snuggle up to the pig and what we found was a horrific disaster. I know it isn't the pig's fault, per se, she was just being a pig - but I'm not happy. 'Tink' was a mess - she'd been bitten, possible thrown (as that's how pig eat, bite 'n throw) and was shaking all over. We brought her in and cleaned her up. Wait right here - hubster cleaned her up. In our house, this is a well established rule: If you are sick, sad, suffering, or lonely - go to mom. She hugs, gets you tea and Ovaltine, rubs your back, and reads you stories. If you are bleeding or need emergency care - go to Dad. His love of biology and his ability to swab out a wound with vigor no matter how loudly you wail (unlike mom who will flinch if you even cry and while she may not cause you pain then, you may die of a simple flesh wound with the infection that will result from it not being cleaned) is essential in this instance. My face greened and upon sight of the damage he calmly suggested that I go sit with the kids somewhere and let him have a look at her.

**This one's for hubster - a handspun. Hubster, as you know, is instrumental in helping me make our batts. While I usually control all the color and design, he does alot of carding and pre-carding. I dare say he'll be doing more which you will understand at the end of this post. But, before all disasters came to live with us - he was up playing with fiber one night and made me this batt. Okay, it is yarn, now, but picture it as a batt - of his own creation! Go Hubster. I include it here because it is great but also because it is really hard to express friendship and team spirit in the process of our mishaps.**

+++ A little story about my fear of body fluids:

Years ago, when hubster and I were camping out here with the kids over the summer, building our house, Thing 1 did what all kids do when they're told they CAN'T go somewhere and did. She fell and cut her leg on a piece of equipment. I called hubster to let him know that it was a pretty good sized cut and see if I should take her in for stitches. Okay, actually, I called and screamed things like 'Oh FSM, gawd! help me!' but I quickly got myself together and we talked rationally about the whole thing. My car wouldn't start and he had but minutes until he was leaving his job so he said go ahead and clean her up and I'll be home in a jiffy (a reason I still love this man). I am totally grossed out by the wrong side of flesh. Blood? Something I see just before I pass out on the floor. I dug deep, got my protective mama energy in line, cooed and soothed her so she stopped crying and being afraid, and started the dastardly job of cleaning the thing out. It wasn't nearly as bad as it looked. I learned that in the first 10 minute shift wherein I totally stopped the bleeding and starting the cleaning and butterfly bandages. I say that shift because, all told, there were three. This story gets told by the Things all the time. Three shifts wherein I cooed, comforted, gently cleaned and bandaged, and excused myself three times to run outside and wretch. Well! At least I did my job and pretty darn well because by the time we got her somewhere they said, 'remarkable bandaging! Let's just leave it like that'. So we did. And it healed beautifully. Still, I get credit for being the puker every time they tell it. What about the perfect bandages? What about the lack of a noticeable scar? Humph!

So, this is here we are. In this time period, #10 finally got on with the show (man, that gal has impeccable timing!) and delivered two big ole rams. 'Tink' has been enjoying an every 2 hrs. session of wrapping, changing bandages, and other necessary care by the ever gentle but not afraid to hold her down as she calls him ugly names and clean her wound Hubster. We hope she will make it. Her leg was injured and is in a splint. The wound was definitely a deep bite but is resisting infection and we are tube-feeding her for now because her nose got hit pretty hard and though she has tried to nurse, it seems to hurt and we're afraid that with the cold weather she won't eat enough. Picture this - hubster is so determined to save her that he holds her mother down, milks her, adds a little vitamins and healing stuffs to that, then tubes baby mama's milk. This, we're hoping, will keep #7 in milk and when 'Tink' is able in a few days, they will re-establish nursing. Real farmers everywhere are throwing their hats down in shame at these outlandish attempt to save this ewe. That, my dears, is why we are family farmers - homesteaders, if you will. Because she, like all our animals, is precious to us and we can't bear letting our responsibility to do all we can for her fall away. I won't take pics of her in her current state - it is not seemly to do so. But, hopefully, all will be well in a few days and there will be barn pics of fuzzy sheep.

The pig leaves the farm next week. We've raised many pigs on our homestead - they are the perfect companions to a small farm as they waste nothing. A stalk from the garden that nobody else will eat? The pig grunts with pleasure and devours it. That old cornmeal in the cupboard? Bring it on! We once had a pig who took to caring for an orphaned chick that hatched in her pen. She gently and lovingly prodded the chick to move over so she could lay down and then buried it gently in her warm arms. Sadly, when she was birthing, she rolled over and crushed him. She cried. Literally! Tears for days. It was so heartbreaking. This pig is different. We've tried everything - vitamin supplements, feeding ratio changes, etc. But, if a chicken or any other animal comes near her - she is a brute. We are a 'play nice' farm and if you can't play that way - you don't play at all.

gimme handspun loveAnd, where have I been (other than the aforementioned bowels of helldom mentioned above?) for three stinking days that I couldn't update or write or knit or spin? It would seem that your village idiot has taken a stroll down the pageant line and won her crown with full honor - not sharing the gory details because there's already be enough of that but let me just say that without the help of wine, coffee, or chocolate, I found myself injured and have had my arm in a splint since Saturday. Yes, no knitting. The spinning you've seen here was all done between Monday and Friday. I'm slowly able to use the arm again - agh!!! I guess I'm not ready to even talk about it. I don't even mind the pain but please, GAWD!, let me knit!

** It doesn't help that this happened just when the 'vardo' batts were done and mine sit, unspun and lonely, on my shelf whilst I practice ways to be dashing in a forearm splint in the mirror.....send love, please**