Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bridge to joy

My husband Dave built me a bridge for our anniversary, a simple hump backed bridge from our east hayfield, over the drainage ditch, to our prairie. To me, it's a bridge over a stream, a bridge from work to joy.

The hayfield is definitely work. It means worry about weeds . Will the thistles overtake the alfalfa?  Is the leafy spurge taking over? Is that shepherds purse or hoary alyssum? It means worry about the weather. When is the next rain predicted? Is the alfalfa dry yet? When can we start cutting hay? It means the absolutely exhausting work of baling.
Will we have extra help? Can we do it by ourselves? When is the next rain predicted? Will the tractor keep working, the haybine, the baler?

There is joy during baling - the blooms along the edges of the field as we  roll past on the hay wagon, the swallows that follow the baler scooping up insects suddenly deprived of their cover, the joy of night fall when we can't bale any longer and we get to lie down and not move for eight hours, and the biggest joy of lifting the last bale off the last wagon load and sitting down in the alfalfa leaf dust on the wagon, sweat running down our faces, through with baling for six whole weeks.

On the other hand, the prairie is all joy. When we converted 10 acres of hayfield to prairie it meant we had ten fewer acres of hay to bale. Our friends with prairies have assured us that the few remaining thistles will eventually give up and die. And every time we walk through the prairie, we find something new. Narrow deer trails wander seemingly aimlessly. Dried purple cone flower seed heads harbor blue bodied dragonflies. Bright green yarrow leaves force their way through last years dead grasses. A bobolink balances on a dried sunflower seed head, singing its heart out.

It's not that I hate baling, it has it's moments, but when I see that simple bridge from the hayfield to the prairie, I smile.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


We took lamb number 52 to the vet. He was old enough to get his vasectomy and become a permanent part of our flock as a teaser, the ram who was responsible for getting the ewes ready to get pregnant.

Our truck had had a close encounter with a wild turkey and was in at the shop having a new windshield installed the day of 52's appointment, so we transported him in the back of the car. Specifically, we transported him on Dave's lap. Number 52 was a bottle lamb. He was easy to catch and fairly easy to hold in the back seat (at least from my point of view). He didn't complain until I took the corner at the end of our road a little too fast, and that was just a small bleat.

Every one at the veterinary office was impressed by him. They slipped a leash around his neck and he followed them happily down the hall. Three hours later, after he recovered from his anesthetic, Dave picked him up and held him in his lap again. We stopped at our friends Budd, Marguerite, and Kate's house so that he could get some head rubs and scratches. There he sampled dandelions, yard grass and a few flowers.

"What's his name?" Kate asked. "If he's a permanent part of the flock, he has to have a name."

We all looked at Budd because he knew number 52 better than any of us having spent numerous hours bottle feeding him. "George," said Budd. "He looks like a George."

One more good bye scratch and then Dave, George and I climbed back into the car. George was about to meet his destiny. We opened the gate and let him into the ram pasture. Three huge rams ambled over to sniff him. George baaad. The rams turned aside. He was no threat to them. George wandered to the fence and gazed longingly at his friends back in the lamb pasture. "Baaa." He would be back with the ewes in three short months, but for now, he was bonding with the rams, learning what it took to be a George rather than just a number.