The last three weeks and the coming three highlight in stark detail why I call this site, “Barely Controlled Chaos.” It has not all been bad or all been good, but it has all just been. I mean, really been. It has felt like we are just barely holding things together no matter how positive or negative things got.
Having said that, I can’t really tell you everything that happened in one post, it would be way too long, so instead I am just going to share the story of what happened last night, as a kind of allegory of what the last month has been like.
If you didn’t know, we are working with a group of folks who all used the same CSA last year. They wanted to continue to support the CSA but the family that was running it just could not make it happen. Not anything they did, it is was one of those cases where the idea was great but the money just was not and so it would not work. So this year they said, we will use our land but we need everyone to come and help us. There was some desire to also expand into other areas were people had some expertise, or just really wanted to add that to what the “farm” could provide. Among those was sheep.
We, other than the family that have the farm land, have the largest piece of property and most of it sits unused most of the year, so I volenteered to host the sheep. Based on everything I was told, it was pretty darn easy, you keep them outside in a rather small pen that is somewhat mobile, and as the eat all the grass in one spot you move them to the next spot. Yup I can handle that. No Problem.
My wife and I made a plan. It kind of fell part, and so on the spur of the moment while I stood in Home Depot, I made up another one. Now, I will pause here to say I am not brilliant or anything, it just seems to have been an better idea. (Mumbles something about lightening striking.) So my older boys and I set up a pen, and we were ready to go.
Now it was time to get the sheep (lambs really.) We arranged with a farm to get them from, worked out a price, and arranged to pick them up. by arranged to pick them up I mean that someone said we needed to get them this week and yesterday was the only night that we could make that happen.
I called The farm a couple of times during the day to make sure that we could come get the lambs but had not gotten any responce. But since this was the only day this week to make it happen, I moved forward with the plans. My older boys pulled the seat out of the van and put the old dog crates in the van ( we were told this was a good way to transport them, and really it worked very well.)
I got out of work, picked up the van and headed to the farm. So good news is the farmer was there, and they were ready to sell us the sheep. So we got ready to take them home only to find out that they were not fully weaned, and they had never been outside. See the paragraph above about the outside pen that I built for them, OUTSIDE.
I am pretty sure the farmer saw that deer in the headlights look on my face and said he would also sell me a bale of hay for $5, since they would need food not being outside and all, and for the first few days would need to be introduced to the outside.
We finally got them in the van and part way home when I realized that I didn’t have the supplies I would need to build a pen for them in the barn. I had the space in our shed / barn thing but we didn’t have the supplies. (Read nails) So after a couple of calls to my wife explaining the plight and how it would be difficult to go to Home Depot with 6 kids and 6 sheep I determined that I would go home and make something work.
Did I mention that every time I got out of the van the sky opened up? Don’t forget that detail because it is important.
For the next thirty minutes I worked with one of the older kids to trying to get something built with the supplies I had, knowing that my wife was coming with better ones soon. Then two other families showed up. They didn’t have the supplies with them either, but a quick phone call and 30 minutes later someone did show up with the supplies we needed.
after what felt like an hour though I am pretty sure it was shorter than that we managed to get a pen built, and started to get the sheep moved into their new home. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
#6 got out of her cage before someone could grab her. There was a small issue with one of the boards on the pen so I was distracted and my son thought sheep were like dogs and would need to be chased. Sheep want to be together and it would have followed the others but he didn’t know that. So he gave chase. Five minutes later he was still chasing and he was tired out and the sheep was still fresh. So It was my turn. I followed the sheep, who was was really scared at this point, around our yard, into the neighbors yard, and back again a couple of times. It finally headed toward the back of our neighbors property toward a small stream.
At this point I will remind you that, these sheep have never spent any time outside, and are only about 3 months old. They have been as sheltered as sheltered can be. The sheep heads for the very rain swollen stream, and decides to jump in. It hit the water and the look on its face was priceless.
Since this was the first time It had stopped moving in almost 15 minutes, I jumped in after it and was able to capture the sheep. The water was only about hip deep, so there was little danger to the sheep or I but it was still very cold and obviously wet. Not like I was not wet enough from the sky opening up.
A note here is that, wool is like a sponge. The sheep that had weighed about 30 pounds now weighted closer to 50 and was not used to being carried by me. Eventually we got back to the barn and I set her down in the pen. Everyone was happy. Well happy is a relative term. They had food, and were together. I was glad I was not chasing them any more, but was also very wet, and by this point tired and frustrated.
The good news is that I can laugh about this now.
It is now a week later. (Yes, it has taken me almost a week to write one stinking post.) The sheep are pretty darn happy, and we have learned to move them all in one herd from the barn pen to the outside corral about 300 feet away, and can usually do so in less than 5 minutes so we are pretty darn happy.