I don’t know what it is about sketchy motels in the middle of WY that inspire me to blog. I could pretty much copy and paste my first paragraph from last Januray right here. Only this time I have just Grace and Abby. And they’re not even pretending to sleep. Grace is standing outside the door cause the heater is set to Death Valley, and Abby is complaining about how tired she is, but keeps asking questions like, “So, if this motel doesn’t even have continental breakfast, are we just going to starve to death?” At least neither is being too dramatic.
We’re on our way back from my bff’s dad’s funeral. Carrie’s dad was flying his plane when it crashed last weekend. Carrie’s dad was an inspiration in so many ways, and hearing more about him made me want to be better at living life. I only got to spend a few hours with Carrie. I hated leaving, knowing that the hardest is yet to come. I’ll never forget the low I hit in those days after my mom’s funeral when the constant flow of calls and prayers had stopped and real life had the nerve to try to return. Carrie and I were talking about how different our experiences were from each other, and agreed that trying to decide which is better is as futile as trying to choose which one of your children to rescue from a sinking boat. In both cases a permanent hole is made in your heart, one that fortunately gets smaller over time, but never goes away.
My girls enjoyed their “big girl” trip, and loved all the attention they got from family. Grandpa made Abby a birthday cake (cause she’s 8. Yeah. How’d that happen??). And when he wasn’t telling them stories, riddles and jokes, and teaching them songs like Bill Grogan’s Goat, they spent their time exploring all the nooks and crannies of his house, the likes of which can only be found in long-inhabited homes.
While I miss Reid, Eliza and James, I'll admit that it’s been nice to have a little break from our new house. We’ve been living there for nearly 8 months now. Would it be too dramatic to say that it’s been the best of times and the worst of times? Probably. We absolutely love where we are--the land, the neighbors, the town, the school, the ward, the views (seriously, the views!) the rural feel, the SuperTarget around the corner, the view of the stars, the neighbor’s horses and donkey, the space, our very own backyard bridle trail, the everything about the location.
The house? Not quite as dreamy. While there are still countless things we love about it, it's kinda falling apart. But that's another story. In fact, that’s probably 15-20 other stories. Loooong, bad, stories. I’ll blog them when I feel like bringing myself down.
Tonight I wanna write about the dreams that I’ve had for years that are coming true. Like the one about raising some livestock. We’d been planning on goats all this time, but after much debate and discussion, most of which centered on fencing, we’ve decided to go with sheep. There are three reasons to keep sheep—for dairy, for fiber (wool) and for meat. Most are only used for one thing. But there is a breed that has been used for all three, and you better believe that’s the one I want—Icelandic Sheep. They’re hardy, they birth well, they’re resitstant to parasites and disease, and they’re gorgeous. We have 3 lambs on hold for us in southern Colorado that will be born this spring, but we’re getting antsy and want them now! Which is why we actually just visited a farm outside of Park City that has Icelandic Sheep. The farmers are basically giving them away. And I was sure we’d take a couple. But sadly those sheep did not like us. The ewes were skittish and wanted nothing to do with us. And the rams were absolutely crazy. I have never, in my entire life, ever seen anything or anyone or any creature actually bounce off a wall. But when Grace and I entered their pen, the sheep started charging and romping and literally bouncing off the walls. The lady told us that they rarely get to see people. Reallllly. I never would have guessed. So, we're back to waiting a few months for the lambs, and we’ll see to it that those little lambs are around people a lot. (I have a feeling that won't be a problem.)
In August we were given a whole brood of chickens, along with their coop. We’ve got 15 hens, and one feisty rooster (feisty is quaint for “we all hate him and want him dead but need him in order to have baby chicks”). We love the ladies, though. And I now know for myself that there really is nothing like a fresh egg. We get about 8-10/day, which is more than we need (and not as many as we should from that many hens). Reid and I and the kids still get excited about how many eggs we get, which ones are still warm, and how they can vary so greatly in size from day to day. Often we give the extras away, but recently we got our first client. Grace has been hired as the egg-cleaner/sorter and is in charge of putting the carton in the newspaper box when she goes to catch the bus in the morning, where our client can pick them up. We haven’t decided how much of the proceeds she’ll get to keep. From Day One she has been a great help with the chickens, filling their water, giving them scraps, cleaning up their poop (which is substantial), refilling their food buckets and nesting boxes, and of course, getting the eggs. So we’ll probably just let her keep it all. And then make her pay for her own groceries.
Tomorrow, on our way home, we’re going to get our egg incubator in Laramie, WY. This little device will do what our hens have been bred not to—warm and turn the eggs till baby chicks pop out! We’ll probably start the first batch of eggs in about 3 weeks. The kids are, of course, ecstatic about this. They do know that 50% of them will be roosters, and that there’s only one thing to do with roosters. Grace, who is extremely opposed to killing any of our animals, seems to be coming to terms with this and knows that they'll become somebody’s meal. Maybe not ours. Or maybe so. We’ll cross that road when the chicken does.
In the past few months, amidst all the wonderful things that have been happening, I’ve found myself griping and complaining excessively about all the work that this place requires of us. Not so much about the land/animals—that’s still fun and new. Working on the house however, is aggravating, stressful, and expensive. I spend much of my time whining about it. But I was reminded at the funeral that our life’s stories usually come as a result of hard work. So I’m resolved to stop putting so much energy into avoiding it and a little more into enjoying it.