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Christmas Ewe by RonChristmas 2006...

With frigid holiday weather for the past three years, we've had a pleasant break during this, our thir­teenth, year on the farm.  Thanksgiving brought us a week of Indian Summer with temperatures in the 70's!  The rams, and their allocated ewes, were actually panting when we were bringing them up the hill to the barn in the evenings.  In fact, we were well on our way to a third cutting of hay in early November.  But alas, the weather gods were not that kind and we missed getting the last cutting baled before the rains came... at months end, the water logged hay was spoiled and we had to get it up and discarded before the grass was ruined... c'est la vie!  Now that the rams have finished their work, we are now in the "sit and wait" mode until Spring.

Some of this past year's spring lamb crop...The weather today, with just a week or so before the official arrival of winter, is delightful.  Work­ing out­side in a short sleeve shirt sure beats the heck out of bundling up like Nanook of the North!

Alex and Andrea will be here to help us brighten and celebrate the Christmas season.  But no grandchildren on the menu his year; too far to ride and the weather too un­predictable. 

Thirty Six...Thirty-six... we will miss you!This year we lost our beloved flock matron,  VL&WC-93-36.  At four­teen years old,  she was one of our origin­al brood ewes.  We retired her two years ago, and let her while away the days mother­ing her grand-daughters... she passed away in May and will be sorely missed!  She was a very special gal.

Last December, Mark and Jill Lyons and their boys, Jarrod and Ian, stopped by for a visit after spending Christmas with family near Lynchburg.  They sensibly called from the bottom of our frozen driveway (The Toboggan Run) for a lift up to the house in a four wheel drive vehicle.  This December is a marked difference, with near balmy weather!  Sorry about last year's weather, guys, but we did enjoy the visit...

Early in January, Elizabeth had a checkup on her ankle and foot.  We are still not eager for more surgery on her foot, so the podiatrist suggested a brace that would slip into her shoe and over her ankle, giving her more stability when moving over the rough terrain around the farm.  It works quite nicely... we'll revisit the possibility of additional surgery later... much later, thank you very much!

In April, Barrie and Claire Brozenske stopped by on their way homeward bound and once again gave us a helping hand with some of those irksome chores that we never seem to get caught up with around the farm.  Barrie and Ron ran a 500 foot replacement water line to our spring fed pond. The critters had gnawed through the old pipe in so many places, it looked like a sprinkler line!  Heavier PVC pipe will hopefully discourage the eager eaters.  Thanks Barrie!

Claire was having some problems with her hip and, like Elizabeth, not eager for surgery; but it sounds like she is scheduling some serious reworking of the joint... preferably using a newly approved, less invasive procedure, called Birmingham Hip Resurfacing for the joint... sounds like Barrie will be the "one armed paper hanger" for a few months!  Hang in there, Claire!

Our daughter, Eva, and her husband Vlad, continue  work­ing and living in Mass­achusetts with our two grandchildren:  Adam, who celebrated his 14th birthday May 10th, and Gina (Princess Scheherazade), who celebrated her 8th birthday on July 10th.  At Adam's graduation from middle school he won the Louis Amadio Award for Effort in Language Arts, one of his most difficult subjects.  In September he started high school at Leominster High. Gina misses corralling and mastering our "wolf pack" when she visits the farm... oh well, maybe next year, Gina! 

Congratulations, Adam!    Scheherazade... nice job sewing the costume, Eva!

Post Script:  Two days before Christmas (sounds like familiar timing, heh?), Adam was trying out a new airborne maneuver with his skate board.  He must have been trying some sort of a "barrel roll" combined with an "Immelman Turn," and he broke his right leg; both the tibia and fibula.

He must have misread the flight directions, so one more time, Adam... to execute the Immelman Turn, you proceed level with good energy, flip back, and bringing the body into a steep climb. This climbing turn is maintained until the body passes through the vertical and completes a half loop. At the top of the loop the body is inverted and the skater rolls his body back into the upright position. The body is now at a higher altitude and has changed heading 180 degrees.  The result is... well, you know all about the last part!  Adam will be in a cast for twelve weeks (toes to thigh), including multiple cast changes!

A velvet beauty... added to our collection.But as we have frequently said, life isn't 'all work and no play' here either. Elizabeth and Ron freq­uently snatch moments in the garden whenever they can.  Friends, Carl and Elaine Wickstrom, who had been perennial visitors, missed their trip again this year.  They did send us another of their "care packages" with  more hostas and day­lily varieties from their Golden Skep Gardens, to add to our collec­tion.  As usual, we will be looking for their contri­butions to poke their heads up in the Spring!

Erlene and her grandson, Nial, with Ron and Jack!Erlene Irwin, another friend of ours, packed up and moved off to Evergreen, Colorado.  She originally met us when she was looking for a border collie... Jack has one brown and one blue eye... with those peepers, he can really stare down the sheep!she ended up with one of our pups, Bailey, and we became close friends over the years.  We will miss both her and Bailey.  As one of her last under­takings in these parts, she de­cided to rescue a young border collie from her local Luray shelter before he was to be euth­anized.

Thus, this is how we came to have Jack!  He is about a year or so old... and after a few trials and tribulations, he has finally settling down as part of our "wolf pack"... actually, now a six-pack plus one!

Up, up and away... about forty balloons made the launch!In July, our daughter Andrea flew in from San Fran­cisco (where she works for the legal depart­ment of the GAP clothing comp­anies) to rendez­vous with our son Alex in Penn­sylvania, where he lives in the Pocono's.  They then made the drive to the farm and we all enjoyed the local July 4th festivities.  The VMI Alumnae hosted a cook­out, follow­ed by the evening's fest­ivities, a hot air balloon launch, culminating with a great fireworks display over the VMI drill field.  Plenty of good home cooking added to the weekend cuisine, including a dinner of Elizabeth's tasty lasagna and a simmering pot of Ron's venison stew prepared in our rustic outdoor camp firering.

Andrea, Ron and Alex... thoroughly sated!Andrea finished the summer with a cruise sailing aboard Carnival Lines out of Port Canaveral: a five day jaunt to the Bahamas.  Perfect weather and no stomach viruses or Legion­naire's dis­ease report­ed... eureka!  In early fall, her next outing wasn't quite as trop­ical... a white water river raft­ing trip near Sac­ra­mento that has some good begin­ner and inter­med­iate level rapids.  She reports she did man­age to catch a nasty head cold from the frigid temp­erature... her next adventure on the water will definitely be in warmer weather!  It was good to see her here with us at the farm.

In September, Ron ended up with a broken contact lens in his right eye... ouch!  He had to fall back into his "coke bottle bottom" glasses for almost eight weeks... double ouch!!!   After forty-seven years of using vented lenses, hard lenses, soft lenses, Flora perm-lenses, disinfecting solutions, eye drops, annual rechecks et cetera... well, to make a long story short, he opted to undergo LASIK surgery and at long last, he has a permanent fix.  Alex and Andrea both had similar surgeries and their experience con­vinced Ron to go for it too.  Hooray! 

Walking some of the boys... and Miss Dee too! (Photo by James Calder)

We missed hearing from a number of you folks last year... we don't want to lose touch with any of you, even if it is only through this Holiday Letter once a year.  Come and see us if you can, or drop us a line if you can't, and let us know how your lives are faring!


Have a great Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year, 2007!

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