30 June 2006

One year into the journey

One year ago, actually a little more than that now, my house was sold and I was officially on this new adventure. One year ago, my dad and my sister and her inlaws and Union Guy were out here working on raising the shed that The Boy and I lived in for several months - which now houses my chickens and assorted tools and oddments. One year ago, I still believed we'd be all finished by now. :)

Well, we aren't all finished, but we continue to make progress. Tonight I sorted through the pile of lumber in the living room and found the first floor boards for the loft (each piece is labelled, so it is like putting a puzzle together). One long piece is now installed upstairs, by The Boy's bed. It's slow work, but not particulraly difficult. It's the kind of job that you can do a little bit and then stop, but still feel like you accomplished something.

The Boy left for Gram and Grandpa's place a week and a half ago: sounds like they are having a good time. I do find the place very lonely without him here, though! His report card arrived: Honours with Distinction, meaning over 80% in each of the five core subjects. His average was 87%. Way to go, Boy!

On a sadder note, earlier this week we had a livestock crisis: the sheep escaped from their pen and wandered so far that I could not find them. I hunted through my whole acreage, the hayfields on all sides, even up to the pasture land across the road. No sign of the sheep. I called, I shook a bucket of grain, but I heard no reply. I was heartbroken. They had escaped rather regularly at one point in the past, although they'd never gone far - we'd tightened up the fence and added a row of barbed wire along the bottom where they'd gotten out, and this held fast for more than a week. Then, Tuesday night, I came home from work and they were completely gone. I hunted and hunted and eventually went to bed, listening all night for the familiar bleating, but it never came.

Wednesday, Union Guy drove down the road a bit, just to see if he could see the sheep. Sure enough, there they were: Master Jack was alive and well, but Mint Jelly had succumbed to fear/stress/heat/something and was no longer with us. With a great deal of struggle, I managed to convince Master Jack to come home. It was so sad to watch him struggle to return to his fallen companion, and to have to fight against his instinct to stay with the rest of his flock, small and still though it may be. Eventually, he accepted that we had to leave, and came more willingly. Once he caught sight of his pen, he bolted for it and seemed releived to be back in familiar territory. Since then he has been a bit lonesome, but he seems to have adopted me as his substitute flock companion for now: he will come when I call him, graze near me if I am outside, and follow me back into his pen without any fuss when it is time to go in at night. Occasionally he stands on the deck and looks in the screen door at me. I try to talk to him lots when he is outside, and call to him so he does not feel too alone.

I struggle, of course, to overcome the guilt: if only I had realized there was another weak place in the fence, and put barbed wire all around ... if only I had come back Monday night to check on them, perhaps they would not have gotten so far away ... if only I had gone into that field by the road, perhaps I'd have gotten there in time ... but of course, this kind of thinking doesn't help. Some lessons are just learned the painful way, I suppose.

I told The Boy what had happened, and apologized for not taking more care to keep his sheep safe. I cried and said that although I cannot fix what happened, I can fix the fence so it is tighter and more secure, and we can build a proper pen and shelter before fall for his 4H sheep. The Boy was so kind to me: he said, "It's okay, Mom, you did the best you could. It's sad, but we really thought that they were safe there. At least Jack is okay." I have been blessed with a very kind hearted boy, and I love him very much. :)

I have started the search for more sheep: we want to get a ewe for Jack and breed some Babydoll Southdowns for The Boy's project, but that may not happen for awhile yet. I am investigating some of the heritage breeds for a lawnmowing/fleece/market lamb flock. Just a little at a time, though ... at this point, Jack seems to be coping okay, so I have time to think carefully about the best route to take. And to improve the fences some more.

So, all in all, it has been a rather tiring week. To top it all off I am struggling with some rather vague ailment that leaves me with a sore stomach and an aching head, and I had to see the dentist this week to get a filling put in, so my jaw feels like someone punched me.

Still, life is good and we are fortunate. Right now I am going to go enjoy the good fortune of having a warm comfortable bed to lie in.


  1. Anonymous12:12 pm

    Bummer dude!! Not fun at all! Guess the hard part about having livestock is that you have to check them twice a day. Not easy when you have a life in the city, too. I'm so sad about the poor lost sheep. Hope you can get the pen reinforced to where they can never get out and that you find the perfect mate for that lonely guy!!

    Love, AC

  2. I stumbled across your blog after seeing a comment of yours at Theresa's Pondering the Myriad Things. It led to reading up to here in your blogs and since its incredibly late and I must try to sleep, I thought I would leave a note at the one year mark. I love blogs like this, I kind of feel like I know you and the Boy and Union Guy a little bit. You seem like some wonderful folks.

    Fascinating read, congrats on the home (it is beautiful) and the life.

    I grew up in the country, went to the city, and now am trying to get back to the country...so I understand your draw to this life very well. I also understand this whole livestock/pet part too, especially the loss part. My dad has a very hard time even leaving the farm overnight out of concern for his animals. This is just a small part of the value of community in rural settings.

    Anyway, I look forward to continuing and catching up. Pleasure to meet you.

    Oh by the way, Im a fellow Albertan...in Grande Prairie and the family land is nearby.

    Peace to you all.


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