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Christmas Ewe by RonChristmas 2004...

The weather outside is frightful and once again, frigid weather is becoming less than a welcome tradition as winter arrived in mid-December with a vindictive blast.  Single digit temperatures, coupled with a blowing gale, find us thankful that we are snug and warm in our little mountain top retreat!

Still, we have passed a milestone, our first decade here in the Shenandoah Valley... time truly flies! We have enjoyed numerous visitors here at the farm this year: some first timers, some old timers, all welcome to come visit.  Unfortunately, this holiday season is not the most pleasant time for us since, just before Thanksgiving, Elizabeth took a bad spill, a pirouette of sorts, while we were moving our ewe flock!  After the first anxious moments, we determined that she had rather badly mangled her ankle.  Our boy scouting experience and training came to the fore and Ron was able to splint and stabilize her foot.  Then, she was loaded into the truck (no, not the truck bed... we have an extended cab!) and we were on the way to Lewis-Gale hospital, about forty-five miles away in Roanoke.  After three fractures were mended by the orthopedic surgeon...

One fracture, fibula; two fractures, tibia; one titanium plate, ten titanium screws.

...well, this x-ray speaks better than words.

She spent four days in the hospital with her leg straight up in the air, then we headed home where she has been flat on her back for the past five weeks!  Our next visit to the surgeon is on January 3rd, when hopefully she will be given the go ahead to begin physical therapy.  She shed her third hard cast about a week ago and is wearing a "moon boot," which is a protective removable brace.  Although better than the hard cast she had been wearing (imagine her leg wrapped in a trash bag to take a shower), she is still unable to place any weight on the ankle until after the first of the year.  With an ankle full of titanium metal and screws, she is Ron's Bionic Woman!

 

Prior to this little episode, we had a pretty good year... Elizabeth had been helping our neighbors, Charlie and Linda Leech, by feeding their new calves twice a day... sadly, this came to an abrupt end with the accident!  The Leeches have always been ready when we needed help, so while Elizabeth was still in the hospital, Ron did pitch in to help their son, Beau, with the calf feeding for a few days while his folks were away at a dairy conference.  After that, it was one-armed-paper-hanger time for Ron.  When the accident occurred, we had been dividing groups of ewes among their respective rams. Needless to say, managing this activity is a full time job in the best of times... trying to keep some groups rotating between good pasture grass and others getting stints in the barn to get rations of grain and hay, with nary an encounter between one amorous ram and another's charges... you get the idea.  Ah, the good shepherd, Ron!

Both Patrick and Delmas Deacon called as soon as they heard about Elizabeth's accident and offering any help we might need.   They had also been there for Elizabeth when Ron was in the hospital with his stroke two years before. Good neighbors all and connections we appreciate!

 

In early spring, Barrie and Claire Brozenski stopped by, homeward bound, to bring us up to date with their travels.  This time we didn't draft them into another onerous task like building more fences or some such thing.  Instead we enjoyed some of Frank's pizza and caught up on everything else.  A thoroughly enjoyable evening.  Another connection we both treasure.

This summer we received an invitation to a 25th Wedding Anniversary party from some friends in Seminole, Florida, Delores and Vinnie Giampapa.  We had attended their wedding 25 years before while living in Seminole... time truly does fly by!  We gave them a call and the girls started chatting like time had not passed at all.  Regrettably, we weren't able to attend the party, but this did bring back a flood of memories for us and reminds us of another of the connections that are so important to us.

Jody Harris, one of our first early visitors to the farm, called out of the blue on Thanksgiving eve.  With Elizabeth here flat on her back and feeling pretty low, it was a perfect pick-me-up.  Jody had been cooking up a specialty the girls used to enjoy, one of Joe Lester's famous cheesecakes.  Needless to say after the tears ebbed, they reconnected.  Jody had been planning another visit to see us when September 11th interrupted all of our lives and she was not able to keep the scheduled visit.  Hopefully we will connect again face-to-face this coming year!

Dick and Diane Pabst finally made it to visit us in October.  They were headed home from a visit with their son Eric who is living in Florida. Ron last saw Eric when he was bouncing on Ron's knee!  Ron and Dick are both rabid fans of seafaring sagas with Horatio Hornblower and Richard Bolitho, two fictional heroes sailing the bounding main during the Napoleonic Wars. Dick is "retired" from Raytheon and in between re-reading the Hornblower and Bolitho novels he is doing a bit of math teaching to seventh graders... a better man than I, indeed!

Steve Dunlap, an old chum from my days at Virginia Tech, stopped by on his way home from attending a recent Tech game in Blacksburg.  We had reconnected about five or six years ago.  Steve's sister, Eileen, and brother-in-law, Charlie, are fervent Tech fans, attending every home and away game regardless of where!  Steve tells us they are all on their way to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in January!  How Charlie managed to finagle four tickets is astonishing...  we will be with them in spirit, hoping for a victory against Auburn.  Go Tech!!!

Alex manages to frequently stop by and is always ready to give us a hand with some of those onerous jobs that Ron always has on the hot burner... we haven't seen Adam or Gina this year.  Vlad, Eva and their lives keep them on the go.  Elizabeth's mother passed her 88th birthday this year.  Andrea is still in San Francisco, still working for The GAP legal department.  And finally, for the first year since we have been down here, Carl and Elaine Wickstrom missed their annual sojourn to the Shenandoah Valley.  We missed them.

Elizabeth managed to take another Best in Show sewing competition at the annual Rockbridge County fair.  Last year was her historical costume, this year it was Ron's... a pair of prize winners!  We supported the Historical Society again this year, taking several of our lamb ewes and, of course, our matriarch, Number 36, to greet the visitors.  We have also supported the 4-H Farm Day, again taking the young ewes and Elizabeth's wares, illustrating how everything worn can be derived from our wool.

 

Elizabeth did a fair amount of reading while flat on her back.  She found this little gem:

Connection:  "To know another and to be known by another - that is everything."

Florida Scott-Maxwell

With all the ways to connect with each other these days:  snail mail, voice mail, text messaging, e-mail, cell phones and on and on, we seem to somehow, too easily, lose track of the real connections in our lives.  We are so glad we don't lose touch with each of you, even if it is only a Holiday Letter once a year.  Come see us if you can, drop us a line if you can't.  We won't promise you a pot of gold, but the look is worth the trip!

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

 

Have a great Holiday Season and a very prosperous Year 2005!

 

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