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Christmas Ewe by Ron

Christmas 2003...

As it did last year, winter arrived early and with a vengeance in the first week of December.   We are into our tenth year here on our little Shenandoah Valley mountain top farm.  Yet, on the heels of a week or more of frigid weather, there is a feel of New England in the air.  Hopefully, for us, this year's Holiday Season will be better than last.  For those of you who haven't caught up with us since last December, unexpectedly things started for us just before last Christmas day!   We had just finished our Holiday Letter a few days earlier for a change... that was the good news.

Unfortunately, a few days after the letter was posted, Ron was finishing a walk with the dogs when he collapsed with an ischemic stroke that left him paralyzed on the right side and without speech.  Fortunately, he was close to the barn where Elizabeth was still working.  When the dogs arrived without him in tow, she started to worry and subsequently found him down on the pathway with Bear, one of the dogs, close at his side watching over him.  A race to the hospital ensued and after a few anxious days following surgery to repair a blocked carotid artery at the University of Virginia Medical Center, all turned out well.  That is what you might call an 'attention getter' and not exactly a recommended way to pass the holidays.  Ron has made an amazing recovery with no physical side effects and most folks do not even notice when from time-to-time he pauses over a word.

Ron, Barrie and Claire driving posts for the new fence...

In mid-February, Ron received the all clear from the surgeons to take on anything he was crazy enough to undertake.  Good thing, since shearing of the flock was scheduled for the last week in February.  A new fence to enclose the lower pastures was also on the task list.  Elizabeth wasn't nearly as convinced, as Ron, that they were really ready for building over a thousand feet of fencing.  When fate blessed us again... Barrie and Claire Brozenske came visiting, for a day or so, homeward bound after an excursion RVing to the west coast.  These two folks totally revamped their final trip schedule in order to spend an additional full week with us doing yeoman work helping with the fence!  We couldn't have done it without them: an effort that was above and beyond to say the least!  Their delayed departure meant that they were still here to see our first spring lamb born, always an exciting time.


It was a strange spring and summer.  We can certainly say that the drought hereabouts is over.  At least for now.  Ron, as we said, is back in the groove and Elizabeth has been helping out with the dairy folks.  They have their hands full with newborn calves since both of their children are now off to college. Elizabeth is mothering, feeding and caring for the little ones.

With our newborn spring lambs in the barn, our attention turned to making hay whenever the sun was shinning, which wasn't too often.  With everything going on, it just seemed like we missed the summer altogether.  But we do have our hay in the barn, so we are ready for whatever the winter will bring us.  The rams have had their way with the ewes last month and we will see what the new year will bring us in that department.

Sadly, one of our neighbors was killed while hunting during spring wild turkey season. Unnerving in that the culprit has not yet been discovered.  The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has jurisdiction whenever hunting fatalities are involved.  Their investigation is ongoing.


Believe it or not, we have slowed the pace this year... and in the coming year we hope to continue to focus on smelling the roses and doing the things we enjoy at our own pace.  We took particular enjoyment in our Octagon Garden this year... it really came into its own and we have continued to expand it.

We managed to help out with the Rockbridge Historical Society open house again this fall.  This year, we had time to plan ahead and Elizabeth stitched up garb for the two of us to look more in keeping with the period!  Pa and Ma Kettle, eat your hearts out!

We brought along several of our ewes and lambs and Elizabeth spent the day spinning, including showing the youngsters how to spin wool with a paper clip!  By the way, did we mention that Elizabeth also took another Best in Show ribbon for her outfit which she had entered in the regional fair!

Carl and Elaine Wickstrom came by for a relaxing visit in October, on their way to see granddaughter Abigail in Oklahoma.  The Mician clan and son Alex joined us to celebrate Thanksgiving here on the farm.  Alex has settled in Pennsylvania, buying a house in the Pocono's, although he spends a great of time traveling to clients throughout the northeast and Canada. 

At Gina's urging, we established a new tradition by dyeing and decorating eggs for Thanksgiving, including a Pilgrim couple, an Indian and a turkey complete with feathers!  Why not?  Grandma and Eva spent an afternoon building a fancy gingerbread house and Adam created a Santa from one of our dyed eggs.  Adam and Gina renewed acquaintances with some of their old furry and wooly friends, including ever vigilant Dora, our spoiled Ram 199 who never got over being a bottle baby, and our newest addition, Choc-o-lat Cocoa, a ten week old kitten.  Adam, with grandma alongside, even managed to get a little driving practice navigating the Pathfinder down the road to check up on the sheep on the lower pastures.  We have had a few irksome problems with wild dogs attacking the flock.

All in all, it was a better year for us... although our bones continue to creak a little more with each passing season and the ebb and flow of life on the farm has us up and down from time-to-time, but just like at the end of the rainbow, when all is said and done, things always seem to work out pretty well

... what more can we say than that, except...


Have a great Holiday Season and a very Prosperous New Year!


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