2 October 2010

Till the Spring

See you in June

Many of these ewes will return in June, perhaps with some lambs. This one gave Rose a hard time all summer. She never quite gave in to being herded. I love the light on her face and head.

Goodbye to Bartleby

Saying goodbye

When you help birth a creature, you get attached. Maria said goodbye to Bartleby and his mom in the barn this morning. The last of the sheep went back to Vermont.

I have never been strong on the idea of sheep as pets. I initially got them to work with Rose on herding, and then herding became something I didn't naturally love doing as I turned more towards writing and less towards chaos and the sometimes mindless acquisition of animals. My focus needs to be on the dogs, which is what I write about.

But I like having sheep around, and find them very calming, even beautiful, up on a hill. And Rose loves working with them.

It was a great arrangement. Darryl Kuehne is a great farmer and a very good friend and we will be seeing him for dinner soon. He loved the arrangement where his sheep – about 40 of them – came to the farm this summer, and his grass could grow up so that he won't need to put hay out until Thanksgiving. I am learning that for farmers, who live on the margins, that sort of thing can make a big difference.

Darryl is a great person to deal with. He always leaves eggs or pumpkins or vegetables when he come. He's coming to Northshire Books for the kickoff of the "Rose In A Storm" tour. We both want to do this again next year, bringing some of the same sheep back. Darryl has taught me a lot about rotational grazing, and having the grass last.

I remember the morning I heard the distinctive cries from up behind the Pole Barn and I told Maria that it sounded like a lamb was up there. So it was. We got Bartleby and his mom together and they have remained inseparable. Darryl says they will stay together. So I was sad to see them go, and then also relieve. Animals are a huge responsibility, one I take seriously. And the donkeys are quite happy here (they would have to be mad to leave Maria and the farm.)

Having people like Darryl in my life  – honest, warm,  admirable – reminds me that I am growing up as a human being. There didn't used to be any people like Darryl in my life.

Collecting the sheep

Collecting the sheep

Rose collects the sheep in the barn before they are loaded on the trailer. Bartleby is behind her.

Countdown to “Rose.” Donkey critics

Donkey critics

Lulu and Fanny are generally unimpressed by my first novel in a decade. Take it or leave it sort of think. Thankfully, the critics are more generous. "Rose In A Storm" comes out Tuesday. Rose and I will be at Barnes & Noble in Saratoga Springs at 5 p.m. Tuesday for an unofficial signing. Then at Northshire Books in Manchester, Vt. for the official tour kickoff Friday at 7 p.m., then at the Saratoga Borders at 2 p.m.  Sunday. Then Washington, Ohio, Kentucky, Mass., and other places. Follow the four on the website and Facebook. See tour sked above for details on the website. Enjoying a quiet day with Maria, last for perhaps a bit.

Rose watches the sheep go

Saying goodbye

I have to confess that I felt a bit sad for Rose when the sheep pulled out. She loves working so much. She will be fine. I'll keep her plenty busy, and she could use a quiet winter. "Dont' worry," I said, "they'll be back." Darryl said she was a great dog and would love to have one like her. It all feels right to me.