The impossible happened this week...Dan and I actually took a bit of a vacation from the farm! We joke that even if the world ended, we'd still have to do chores before we left. While I'm not taking anything away from vegetable and crop farmers, the garden has a down time. You can go on a tropical vacation over the winter if you please. The plants won't suffer terribly if left alone for a day or two mid-season. Having as much livestock as we do, it's very rare that we can get away as a couple, even overnight. I think the last time we did was October of 2009, and that was just for a night. There is a reason raising farm animals is called “animal husbandry”; in a sense, you are married to your animals. They need to be cared for every day, without fail, and whether or not you are tired or ill. You need to care for them when they are sick, and be there for births. Your schedule revolves around their care every single day of the year, including holidays and weekends, since there is no magic day when the animals won't be hungry. I can't count the number of times we have been visiting friends or family locally, only to leave in the middle of the gathering because it was chore time. Please don't get me wrong though, I love my critters, I do choose to live this way, and I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world. But we all need a bit of a break now and then!
Both my mom and Dan's parents live in the middle of the state, just far enough to feel like a mini vacation, and we had been looking forward to visiting on this little trip for some time. There was a pretty small window of opportunity between the holidays and the start of lambing season/piglet time/starting seedlings that we could leave for a few days. Dan's brother Matt agreed to tend to the livestock and the woodstoves in the house while we were gone, or it wouldn't have happened. Matt lived here on the farm for many years and visits us all the time, so the animals know him and he knows them. I can't think of anyone else I could trust to get everything done! We had planned to leave earlier, the end of January, but then Sheepie got sick. Caring for her meant putting any leisure plans on hold. We fought through that, but I'm very sad to report that in the end, it was all too much and she didn't make it. We did our very best, but it was a difficult condition to treat successfully. Then Nutmeg, one of our oldest ewes and consistently the earliest to lamb, had a healthy little ram. We knew the rest of the sheep would soon follow, and Char was expected to have a litter of piglets in mid-February as well, so for us, it was now or never. Baby season is just too much to put on someone else, even a great farm person like Matt.
So Dan and I visited family and took in some local sights from Sunday to Friday. It was nice, but it's great to be back home too. The house was warm and the animals were well-fed and thankfully, none of the animals gave Matt any trouble (except for Puff, my fluffy cat- he demands attention from everyone!). My replacement hens, although close to full grown, seemed like they grew while I was gone. And it seems as though we got back just in time. As we were doing chores last night, I noticed Rosa wasn't following me around looking for snacks as she usually does. I got her into the barn, and by this morning she had two beautiful, healthy ewe lambs. We also knew Char was close and have been watching her and giving her lots of extra bedding, and this morning, eight tiny piglets were busily nursing. The temperatures here are warming a bit, the snow is melting from the rooftops, and with all these babies, spring can't be far behind!