Ahhhhh. Much cooler now. Our poor little sheep have endured record heat, wearing wool coats, for too long... until today. Greg Gilman & Son came and delivered them from their suffering.
You have no idea how hard it is to find a sheep shearer. I have heard horror stories of the temperamental nature of shearers. Some require meals (not just a sandwich) prepared at a certain time and in a certain way. Some arrive and find things slightly different than they asked and promptly leave - without shearing the sheep. All I can say is they must be doing very well if they can walk away from money like that.
I was lucky, Greg is a local Agriculture teacher in our county who was recommended by our vet. He and his family have been showing sheep for quite a few years. They came into the light and now show goats too. Greg left with a kind comment, "Those are very nice ewes." He wasn't talking about their manners, he was talking about their appearance and sheepness. For someone that doesn't know sheep, that was a big relief. I had no idea what kind of animals were lurking below all of the textiles. His comments were a far cry from the condescending ones that our ferrier makes about our goats - every- single - time - he - visits. You can talk about my kids, but don't talk about my goats. I fired him and then had to re-hire him (which only makes him more full of himself) because ferriers are also in short supply, and they temperamental folk.
In other news, I'm preparing to have fun. Nicholas and I are headed to Louisville this Monday and will return home on Thursday. We are going to the American Dairy Goat Association's national show. This is the big one, but, we aren't taking a single goat. We are simply going to be bystanders - and babysitters. Our goat friends Will Pearson and Paula Reisdorf have a bang-up herd of Saanens who will be requiring a lot of attention - and they have a human baby- so, I am their "national's nanny." I will be bouncing the baby girl while they focus on winning the highest goat honors known to American goat keepers.
Preparing to have fun isn't easy for me. When you are raised by depression-era parents you have to balance fun with responsibility-or something unpleasant. Eating a disgusting food is an example, "Because you never know when you'll have to." My parents were great at doing really hard and unpleasant things like giving you the last bite of their dessert or letting you have their lawn chair at the parade because you didn't bring one (while insisting that they just needed to stretch.) I will never be that person. If you reach for the last bite of my dessert you will meet with the wrong end of my fork. If you don't bring your lawn chair to the parade that's too bad. I'm a Libertarian and I believe in personal responsibility. Suck it up.
Some of what they taught me sunk in, enough that I generally feel guilty when I'm having fun. So, I began my penance yesterday morning by pressure washing the inside walls of the barn, that is, after I fried my eggs on the sidewalk first! It was hot at 7 a.m., I'm not joking. I stayed out until 9 p.m. I cleaned and arranged, built a new fire pit from field stones, stacked fire wood, mowed a small patch of grass, mowed between the garden beds, fed and milked the caprines and on and on. I got up this morning and did it again, but stopped to meet the shearer and the graphic designer for our milk label (scuse me, aesthetic) at 9 a.m. They were both gone by noon and I collapsed in the air conditioned house - for 10 minutes. To make positively certain that I have good-and- earned my fun credits for next week I picked blackberries with Hannah-Jo AT 4 IN THE AFTERNOON. An air conditioned Kevlar suit would have been nice. If you look closely you can see that I allowed my child to wear flip-flops. She's child number six...I've become lax in my watch =) The thorns and the solar flares pretty much secured my guilt-free travel next week. Oh, the real torture? The theme from Underdog was stuck in my head THE WHOLE TIME!
I should be good to go now, suffering and responsibility complete, in fact, I've probably earned an Alaskan cruise worth of fun credit. The voice of prudence (and my parents) says, "Go to the goat show and be grateful. What does Alaska have that we don't have right here in the lower 48?"
Um, I should probably make the jam before I go... just to be sure.
Can I go now? Without guilt?