Friday, June 3

An Unexpected Beginning

Alison and newborn baby Beattie

One of the most interesting aspects of farm life is that it is totally unpredictable. The sheer number of jobs to be done, projects to be tackled, and emergencies to be dealt with ensure that no two days are ever the same. Boredom doesn't stand a chance.

This lack of predictability can of course be rather frustrating. Nothing should be assumed. Routine is never guaranteed.

I long ago accepted the fact that trying to arrive anywhere at a specific time is pretty much impossible. Making a dentist appointment is a nerve-wracking experience. Long range plans are pointless. Don't bother sending me a wedding invitation—just mail me a piece of the cake.

I'm definitely not complaining. It's just that you never know what might disrupt the day. It may be a late evening phone call announcing the surprising (but very welcome) arrival of the sheep shearer the following afternoon. Or an ear-piercing grinding of metal in the farmyard heralding the urgent need for me to jump into my Tractor Mechanic Assistant's coveralls.

A six-foot long black snake curled up in one of the hens' nesting boxes requires a loud scream, immediate action on someone else's part, and at least a quiet half hour with a cup of Tension Tamer tea on mine.

Then there was the time I was home alone one morning, glanced out the front window, and saw 17 strange cows jogging up the driveway toward the house.

Short term plans and goals are ambitious but iffy. I once came across a To Do List that was three years old and realized I could have written it that morning. It can take a while to get the less critical stuff done around here.

Which brings me to this blog. Today I decided that no matter what, I was going to finally sit down and write my first post. No more putting it off, no more worrying about making it perfect. It would be easy. I would simply write a few brief words about some food-related aspect of my day.

At one o'clock this afternoon it was 84 degrees in the shade, and I realized I really needed to harvest all of the remaining mesclun salad mix in the  kitchen garden. I grabbed a pair of scissors and two enormous stainless steel colanders and set to work.

At three o'clock, I gave in to a strong urge to check on the sheep. As I headed down to the barn where they were hiding from the afternoon sun, I tried to think how I could make picking and washing several pounds of gorgeous-but-possibly-bitter lettuce sound fascinating.

I walked into the barn and spotted it immediately: The Daily Disruption. Today it was in the form of a water bag hanging from the back end of a yearling ewe I had no idea was pregnant. I was sure our lambing season had ended almost three weeks ago. And besides, June is too late for lambs.

Twenty minutes later a tiny baby girl was born.

Apart from my being dragged across the barn during a failed attempt to move the mother-to-be into a pen for some privacy, things could not have gone more smoothly. Baby Beattie has a black face and legs and is covered with the 'chocolate chip' spots so prevalent on our lambs this year.

She's adorable, and I swear she came out smiling. She is the great granddaughter of
Doll Face, one of my favorite sheep. Doll Face is a triplet, born in 1996—the first year I had lambs. She and her sister, Mary, are my two oldest ewes, and they each had twins this year.

It is now well past seven. I am starving. There are evening chores to do. But after Mama and Baby were settled in their bonding pen, I came back to the house and got carried away writing--though not about food. I apologize if this is not what you were expecting, but I warned you how things are around here.

Actually, I think this is a perfect way to start my blog—with the unexpected beginning of a new life. I looked up the word unexpected in my thesaurus earlier, and this is what it said: surprising, unforeseen, sudden, stunning, eye-opening, astonishing, astounding, amazing, breathtaking.

Yes, that was today. And pretty much every day here. We are all constantly surrounded by the unexpected—if we just slow down long enough to notice.

I promise to write about food next time, but right now I have to go deal with the two enormous colanders of lettuce still sitting on the kitchen counter. I'm hoping I might even have time to pick a few strawberries for dessert.

If not, there's always tomorrow.

Alison & Beattie, age 3 days



  1. I wonder if you realize just how great it is to read of your lovely farm and critters every morning??? It is a wonderful way to start my day. Thank you so very much.

  2. I remember what you are talking about, from the days of my childhood and youth...

    Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  3. Glad I found you! Love your blog already! I just began blogging in January 2010 and am in love already lol
    Thanks for all the recipes too..this is fantastic..and they all sound so yummy
    See you soon!

  4. My first blogging experience and it was a great one. I attended a workshop this weekend on teaching ag in the classroom which you are doing with this blog. Great job

  5. a friend of mine just turned me on to your blogs and i'm so glad she did... so addicting!
    thanks for sharing


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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