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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Steve the Suffolk

In the process of putting the flowerbeds to bed for the winter, I decided to rip out some of the overgrowth of Virginia Creeper from the stone fence. The long, curling vine lay in a heap in the middle of the yard and I stared at it, wondering if I could channel the spirit of Martha Stewart long enough to transform the vine into a crafty Christmas wreath for our farmhouse door. I told the Farmer not to drag it off to the burn barrel: I was going to make something out of it. He looked at me as if I said I was going to give birth to triplets.

“What. I can make stuff. Just you wait.”

I did try to wind it into a wreath but I couldn’t get the tangle to form a circle shape. I decided the wreath makers had secret tools and implements that I did not possess. Then I went shopping at Old Porch Primitives in Oxford Mills. Every time I go into that store, I see something that makes me cry. Simple little wooden signs declaring: “All because two people fell in love” and “Could I have this dance, for the rest of my life?” Honestly. I am such a mush. I love that place.

Debbie had hung a simple strand of grapevine between the rafters, wound lights around it and dangled metal stars from its curves. I bought a spray of stars and went home, armed with inspiration.

I now have a homemade swag of vine, fairy lights, metal stars and ornamental sheep on my sun porch. And if you haven’t gathered from the last three paragraphs, I’m darned proud of it. Now if I can just figure out how to get my solar Christmas lights to work, I’m ready for the holiday season.

On the livestock side of things, the Farmer has decided he is tired of Dorset sheep. They grow great big pompadours of fleece, and their young often have difficulty finding the teats in all that wool. I personally find them very cute, but I guess that doesn’t count for much when you have to shear them. My husband decided to sell Rambi, the Dorset ram, and to buy a black-faced Suffolk to bring about change in our herd.

On the way to Maurice and Joyce Seguin’s farm Sunday morning, the Farmer cleared his throat. “Can I just ask that you do not give this ram a stupid name, like Rambo or Rambi?”

Stupid? “What would you like me to call him?”

“Well, I call all my rams Johnny.”

I told the Farmer that I thought that was ridiculous and not very original. Each ram should have its own name.

“Okay,” I said, “What should we call him, then? Steve?” I joked.

So now we have a 10-month-old Suffolk named Steve.

The ram was obviously raised with love and trust, by Grama Joyce. Her tame goats and lambs gathered around, nibbling on our jackets and fingers as we put a collar and lead on our new ram.

Steve allowed himself to be led up the ramp into the back of the truck. On the way home, he commented on every pothole and bend in the road.

“It’s okay, Steve. Almost home,” I said.

Back at the farm, we helped Steve to hop off the back of the truck and into the lambing pen, where Rambo and Rambi were already happily ensconced in their catered hotel.

The two older sheep crowded to the corner of the pen and craned their necks to see the newcomer as he was released into his quarters. They lifted their snouts skyward to catch his strange scent.

The Farmer tied a bell onto Steve, thinking it would keep us from taken by surprise.

“Don’t get yourself into a corner with this one,” he warned.

I looked at Steve. He approached and put his soft muzzle into the palm of my hand.

“He doesn’t like his bell,” I said. I might have to help that jingling thing to go missing without a trace at some point.

I can’t wait to see the black-faced babies we will have in April.

Farm Community Service Note: If anyone is interested in adopting two little male pot-bellied pigs, let me know and I can hook you up with their owner. They need to be in a winterized shelter.

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