…and five years have passed.
We’ve been working this farm together five years this month. Although Donald and his family moved here when he was 11, he never saw himself as choosing a farming life, and it wasn’t until his mum needing someone to help care for her coincided with a transition in his own life, that he came back to the farm about seven years ago. He figured he might as well fix the drainage in a couple of fields while he was here…and became hooked. I joined him two years later, and since then, time has flown.
While posting on our Facebook page recently, about our upcoming Ram Sale, I discovered a collection of pictures suspiciously similar to those I was trying to add to the post. This year’s photos of our saucy boys are nearly identical to those I took almost exactly one year ago: a selection of solo shots showing off each of the animals up for sale, and a group shot or two, attempting to show them in their native element.
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise: farming is a repetitive business, with lambing, sowing, harvest, and tupping seasons all coming around annually, and with other tasks – like taming the thistles in the hay fields, and trying/failing to keep the snails from eating my lettuce – repeating themselves on a regular basis. This is the wheel of the farming calendar, and ready or not, it will turn.
It’s not for everyone, this farming gig. It’s dirty and smelly and often wet and cold, and sometimes heart- and backbreaking. But for those who live it and love it, it’s also invigorating, and peaceful, and a reminder of our place in the cycle of life on this planet. The repetitions are welcome, actually: once you go through a few cycles, there’s no need to ‘invent the wheel’ every time, and you can get on with other quandaries, such as whether to breed that trusty old ewe again, or to retire her. Or whether we can afford a new baler, or will have to nurse this one through one more (“the last one, I promise!”) harvest. And how in the world we can keep the piglets in their paddock, using 10 year old bits and pieces we’ve got lying around.
It’s nice to finally have our list of lambing supplies complete, and the design of the footrace figured out (for now). Lambing – and the resulting ram sales – come and go like summer following spring. Although this year, it’s almost as though Autumn got into the middle of July and decided to mess things up a bit.
There’s something reassuring about the wheel turning as it always does on this old farm…while the rest of the world seems to spin out of control all around us. Plagues, fires, floods, wars, and despotic rulers in countries that used to be considered havens for democracy…the sheep truly do not care. They will have their lambs, and no gloves or face masks will save you from having to go elbow deep to help them deliver a stuck lamb, with everyone ending up covered in birth fluids. The wheel will turn, we will laugh about (most of) it, and another constant is that, among all the repeating rituals of the year, there will also, always, be a new challenge coming at us next week, or next month. And that’s okay too. It’s just another way the wheel turns.
No, it’s not for everyone. But after five years together this month, working this land, and rejuvenating this old farm, we look with hope (again) at this year’s crop of handsome young rams high-stepping through the tall grass, nursing high hopes for their futures… and we know that it is definitely for us.
Turn wheel, turn. And we’ll be right here, steering a course into the next five (and more) years.