There’s a feeling of finality in early fall in rural America; a lull between the heat of the summer and the hustle and bustle of the grain harvest season. I am one of those insufferable people who Love, with a capital ‘L’, the holidays and the first whispers of colder weather are always a welcome invitation to begin preparing for them.
This year though, there were no whispers. We went from eighties and nighties and high humidity to sixties at, what seemed like, the flip of a switch. We are surrounded by Black Walnut trees here; they’re always quick to shed their leaves, and they’re wasting no time in the task this season. Walking outside to a hail of gold fluttering through the air is always enough to put me in the autumn mood.
You might think that after so many years of the same thing, I wouldn’t be caught by surprise when it’s time to winterize the farm, but you would be wrong. It’s not that I don’t see it coming at all, it’s that — especially during years like this one — the time left always feels longer until we’re mere steps from the finish line.
A few weeks ago we had to send the ATV we normally use daily for basic chores into the shop to get some work done, and they’ve yet to make a final diagnosis. Now, as I make lists — both mental and physical — of all the things I need to get done around here before snow flies I am missing it fiercely. We have ways of doing everything without it, but not without added complications; which also means added time and effort.
The farm kids’ pleading for “a lamb for fair,” this summer means we’ve had Ferdinand the Ram with the ewes for several weeks now already. We have, thus far, only lambed in the spring and I have liked it that way. It’s warm outside, there’s plenty of lush grass for both lactating Mamas and quickly growing babies; it almost makes for a fool proof lambing season. But spring lambs aren’t old enough for summer fairs; only winter lambs have enough time to grow big and strong, and finish out. So we’ll try it. The principles of winter birth and newborns are the same across the species and we’re not entirely green even with sheep, but any farmer will tell you that theory and practice are not listed as synonyms for one another for good reason.