Every year the shepherdesses work on the breeding ewe worksheet separately without discussing our breeding philosophy for the year, then compare our results. This year, as usual, we were very close in our decisions, only differing in one choice.
Along with the new girls, Sadie and Sarah (pictured above), there are several families included in Montague’s group – Serenity and her daughters Harmony and Thalia (one of the three Graces); Maibh (may+v) and her daughters Maire (my+ra) and Matilda; Dolly and her daughters Dahlia, Daisy and Darah (house of the shepherd). Although some are crosses, all were chosen for their strong Border Leicester bloodlines and to build upon their physical strengths and fleece quality. We are very excited about breeding season and, of course, we’re already dreaming about next year’s lambs.
Dahlia ~ daughter of Dolly, grand-daughter of Rosey
Despite his busy schedule (twenty-three ladies in his breeding group), Frey found some time to enjoy the sunshine – as we all were on Sunday after a hectic Saturday finishing breeding preparations and moving sheep.
Frey is in with a beautiful, diverse group of longwool ladies with lovely wool locks – Romney crosses, Coopworth crosses, Border Leicester crosses. With their bloodlines and his Finn – Teeswater lines, we’re hoping that next year’s lambs will be healthy and strong and produce another beautiful crop of wool.
It is such a joy researching each ewe’s line while making breeding group decisions… traveling back through the history of the flock… remembering special sheep with such fondness. We’re sometimes surprised by little things that have slipped our minds in the busyness of day to day farm chores. There are exclamations of “Oh my, Dahlia and Daisy are Dolly’s daughters and Rosey’s grand-daughters!” Soft, curly fleeces are examined and admired. Truly, truly each season on the farm has so many little rewards.
Jill ~ Romney cross, now the matriarch of the flock at 10 years old
Frey or Freyr ~ the ruler of peace and fertility, rain and sunshine
“There is an ancient conversation going on between mosses and rocks, poetry to be sure. About light and shadow and the drift of continents. This is what has been called the ‘dialect of moss on stone’ – an interface of immensity and minuteness, of past and present, softness and hardness, stillness and vibrancy, yin and yan.”
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer, from “Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses”
“October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again.”
~ Hal Borland
“Oh, those West Virginia Hills!”
We never tire of your beauty and inspiration, especially on these misty, mountain mornings as the fog slowly burns off and you appear in the distance.
“Grass is the forgiveness of nature – her constant benediction.
Its tenacious fibers hold the earth in its place, and prevent its soluble components from washing into the sea. It invades the solitude of deserts, climbs the inaccessible slopes and forbidding pinnacles of mountains, modifies climates and determines the history, character and destiny of nations…
Grass yields no fruit in earth or air, and yet should its harvest fail for single year, famine would depopulate the world.”
~ John Ingalls, U.S. Senator , 1873-1891
Breeding groups are finally all set up, and we are depending on our good fences to keep the rams on their best behavior. We still have some hoof trimming to accomplish with Aragorn’s ladies but we’ve got the breeding harness on him in the meantime.
We were blessed with a gofer full of unsaleable pumpkins by our friends at Vested Heirs Farm. They provide some bright spots in the somewhat dreary pasture, and the flock is definitely enjoying the late autumn treat.
Joining The Run*A*Round Ranch Report for Good Fences
by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
“Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian-flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.”
– William Cullen Bryant, Autum
Most of the leaves have disappeared during this week of wind and rain, but last Sunday the hills were still filled with glorious color. Here our old barn is peeking through the beautiful autumn hillside leaves.
joining Weekly Top Shot with The View From Right Here