Thursday, July 31, 2014


We went to the State Fair the other day. 

The 13-year-old was glued to the riding events, but I headed straight to the sheep pavilion. 

Imagine my surprise when I encountered this fella in the Lincoln section.

Johnny Blue, what are you doing here? 


Yes, I know to everyone else, all Lincolns must look pretty much the same.

But this one really was the spitting image of Johnny Blue. 

And, had the same friendly-pushy personality. 

And, the same exact fleece. 

Johnny Blue

Johnny's fleece

The resemblance was so strong, I had to ask his owner. 

Turns out he was Johnny Blue's brother. 

And his pen mate was Clementine's brother. 

The owners got both at the same sale where we got Johnny and Clem. 

It's a small, but pretty cool, world. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

50 shades of cochddu

Cochddu - The Welsh term for the color that Black Welsh sheep turn in the sun. 

I'm embarrassed to report that though the sheep are well, I have a very, very, very, VERY difficult time telling them apart. I think that the one in front is Jezebel, mother of Jethro. And the little ram in the middle is Billy. Maybe. The ewe in the back might be Bo. Or not. Generally, I have to be close enough to see their numbers to know for sure. 

Sigh. It will come. It will come. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The lawn nazi and more than I can chew

This life, this one that I love, in its current form, is more than I can chew.

If I didn't already accept that, the last 48 hours have forced me to.

Forty-eight hours ago is when the lady next door ambushed me as I got out of my car with the 13-year-old to yell at me about my grass. Yes, grass. From 300 feet away, for everyone and God to hear, she berated me about the state of my yard. I was forced to tell the 13-year-old to go inside. Then I went over to introduce myself and take the beating.

Yes, the grass has been a bit long this season and I have not weeded a single flower bed. Yes, that part is true.

She was A.N.G.R.Y.. About long grass, about weeds, about a manure pile she can see from her yard, about not everyone (read - all residents, past and present, of my house) not conforming to her values.

But she didn't care that I'm busting my a*s trying to turn this property into a working farm - from scratch.

I love farms! I grew up on a farm! But we took care of ours!

She didn't care that I do all the work on the farm myself in addition to my day job.

My husband works full-time and he's out here every night working on the yard.

She didn't care that I don't have a husband to help every night. Or any night. I work alone.

So hire someone!

She didn't care that I didn't have the budget to hire someone to cut the grass.

You're rich! You can afford it!

Ahh. Yes, she was especially angry that a rich person would let a weed grow. Apparently the previous owners had told her I was rich. Ha. Exactly how they came to that conclusion is unclear. Maybe having two properties. They hadn't reached the other logical conclusion - that two properties means two loans, more debt, less free cash.

I didn't mention that I'm also a single parent, or that I prioritize the 13-year-old over the weeds, but she wouldn't have cared anyway.

She wouldn't have cared that I also prioritize the animals over the weeds.

She also didn't know or care that my 83-year-old father had collapsed earlier this summer after mowing this yard. Despite her apparent vigilance, she missed the ambulances pulling up to the house with sirens. She missed seeing him taken out on a stretcher - in the service of grass. (He's fine, now.)

She didn't bother to find out, before she called the township to complain, or before she ambushed me, that the reason the grass went unchecked early in the summer was because not one, but BOTH mowers on the property had broken down. Neither was a day under 20-years-old and both were passed down from property owner to owner. She didn't care that I got to be the lucky owner holding those hot potato mowers when they did finally die. I had to buy a new tractor (with all my riches) and it took a good long time for it to be delivered, while the grass continued to grow.

She was just angry, full stop. Mad. Pissed. Outraged. Beside herself.

She revealed a lot about herself.

Judgemental. Narrow-minded. Self-righteous. And scariest of all - watchful.

This was the first time I'd met her. Of the four adults living in the two properties that abut this house, she's the only one I hadn't met since taking possession in October. I see now that that was not an accident. She is not the welcoming type.

But she is the watchful type. Truthfully, I thought the complaints were coming from someone observing from the road, so I'd concentrated on the front of the property by the road, not the part that abuts her backyard.

Now that I know it's my nearest neighbor, I am particularly stressed. I don't like to be watched as I come and go and I don't like to be ambushed. Who does?

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in the house instead of outside working, because I was too discouraged to go out and risk another berating. I made the best of it by trying to line up some people to come help clear some downed trees by the old house and help upgrade my fences, all things on my existing to do list.

I also added a new item. A hedge. A very tall and fast-growing hedge between me and this lady. Someone's coming tonight to give me an estimate. My riches are dwindling though, so I don't know how I'll pay for it.

The final straw, the clear writing on the wall, happened this morning. This is the reason I am inside writing a blog post instead of outside working.

I waited until this morning when I thought the neighbor'd be gone to go out and finish mowing the acre that abuts her property (this, despite the fact that the township told me I'm not required to mow it, it being agricultural land and all.) Then I went next door to the farm house (our old house) and continued mowing there. There is always mowing to do after all.

At first I thought it was a reaction to an insect bite. I got wuzzy, I got nauseous, my vision went dark, and had I not sat down, I would have fallen down.

One of my big fears, as a single parent, is that something will happen to me before my child is grown, so I try not to take chances. Before I completely passed out alone in the yard I made my way back to the barn, where my barn helper was cleaning stalls and asked her to watch me. In case I did pass out. She called 911 and it was deja vu all over again, except instead of my 83-year-old father, it was me.

The paramedics said it wasn't an allergic reaction and it didn't look like a toxic bite though they couldn't be sure without taking me to the hospital, which I refused. What they were sure of was that my blood pressure had fallen dangerously low and I needed to stop working. They said heatstroke, but it wasn't all that hot and I know hot. I grew up in hot.

I think it was the extra stress of the neighbor.

So, I have to figure out a way to get everything done without a hidden stack of treasure to finance it, without a partner to do the heavy lifting, and without killing myself. I am still convinced that it is possible, if I can get past the start-up stage, just not sure how to get there from here.