With a heat index of 103 degrees, today is a hot one! In fact, this entire week has felt like someone has been holding a magnifying glass between us and the sun. Curiously, I seem to be surviving the heat and even starting to feel a little bit chilled at night when the temperature dips into the 70′s. Oh how one can adapt! Luckily for me, I don’t wear a wool sweater all day, like my poor sheep, and I can find reasons to dodge into an air conditioned building now and again. Elliot has also done a nice shear job on my own head upon my decision that the South is too hot for hair. Our new sheep arrived from their home in suburban Mableton County, Georgia this past Sunday. They were picked up from a backyard farm and they were in pretty rough shape. They hadn’t been sheared in the Spring and were so over heated that they weren’t eating much. Their owner had to pack up her bags and country living lifestyle and move back into the hustle and bustle of the city.
We loaded them into the back of my chevy and carefully carted them to their new home. Each of the sheep has a very distinctive look and the presence of genetic diversity is very high. Just being a Hertiage Breed animal, Jacob Sheep tend to be excellent foragers, mothers, and have proven to be hardy as hell. Their products (milk, meat, wool, etc.) have not been mass produced and therefore their breed has maintained good genetic integrity with limited inbreeding. Bo, the eldest wether, has two very large horns and a stark black face with eyes that show like stars. Ned is a much smaller wether and has two smaller horns with a beautiful, cloud like fleece. Lark, the one year old ewe has four horns, two that go out to the sides of her face and two on the crown of her head that point straight up. She has beautiful, delicate features and quite a presence in the flock. Zelda, the eldest sheep of all, has a huge Great Dane like face with five horns. They curl in all directions, with the two on the top of her head curling down like insect antennae.
They were introduced into the mix-bag of sheep and goats at the farm and a few territorial confrontations broke out, but generally everyone stayed cool. Valiant, our ram, made sure that both wethers knew who was boss and our ewes, being half the size of the new females, became very submissive to their new roommates. The goats scarcely paid any attention to the new sheep and were too busy trying to figure out how to get us to give them something to eat. Poor Giles, our little, awkward billy goat, is still trying to bridge the gap between sheep and goats and make a real connection to his wooly roommates. Unfortunately we would rule him mostly unsuccessful. They will be sheared tonight with hand shears, the old fashioned way, and their wool will go through the laborious processes of picking and cleaning. Once we’ve gone over the fleece enough times and found the weak spots, I will get busy spinning.
The farm is lush with the stems and leaves of our plants and their weedy neighbors. We’ve been doing our best to battle the creeping of weeds into our fields, one row at a time. We know that weeds provide excellent habitat for beneficial organisms and try not to get too overwhelmed as native plants make their moves onto our landscapes. Our late crop of tomatoes seems to grow a foot a day and we’ve been spending hours convincing it to take to the Florida Weave-we’ve carefully placed around it over(and over) again. At any given moment there may be two million Green Beans making their way into this world and our Okra is getting much taller than I. Our second crop of Squash just manifested their first fruiting bodies and radishes are sprouting in the shady spots. We’re in non-stop motion these days just trying to keep up, but we feel good and our work, we know, is good.
Come out to the Peachtree Road Farmers Market this Saturday and wish Elliot and I Happy Anniversary! We’ll be celebrating love and tolerance all day!