The last couple of yarns were sort of cliffhangers, and even the ones about lambing were never really resolved. Like so much in life, these stories are not really finished, but at least here’s an update.
Those of you who know me personally and through reading the Yarns will have a pretty good idea of the horrified fascination with which I watched the US election campaign—a bit like watching a forest fire raging out of control—and the dismay I felt at the result. Until yesterday, I hadn’t found the words I wanted to write, but after watching changes in flock behaviour after I re-united the “mothers-to-be” with the main flock, I was inspired to share the following perspective with you.
In the past, October has been lambing month on my farm. Logically, it makes perfect sense: mid-spring (April equivalent for you in the northern hemisphere) with plenty of new growth for the mamas to make milk. However, year after year, September has seen reasonably settled weather and October has been truly awful.
For those of you who don't speak British Commonwealth idiomatic English, a crocodile can also mean a line of school children. The relevance of this term to the real topic of this Yarn will become clear later. (If you are one of those who read the last chapter first, skip to the video at the very end of the Yarn.) The real topic of this yarn is "Do sheep work?" More specifically, do my sheep consciously choose to cooperate in the work of the farm?
We've had 3 ½ inches of rain in May (hooray!) and the property is looking better than it has in months. Admittedly, it looks better from a distance than at worm's-eye level, where there is too much bare ground showing. However, the lovely spring green look is most welcome, along with the beginnings of run-off.
I used to think design was an endpoint: a place you could hold clearly in your mind, once you had it figured out. The easy part of the job. The hard work was then finding your way to whatever it was you had designed. Farming and knitting have, between them, blown that concept clear out of the water.
This is not a "proper" Yarn, just a quick note to let you know that ABC Landline is running a segment on my farm and White Gum Wool yarn this coming Sunday, November 24th. The program starts at 12 noon, EDT. It can also be accessed for the following couple of weeks through http://abc.net.au/iview if you go to All Programs, then ABC1 and look for Landline.
In other news, Rangelands Journal in the US has recently published a paper by Fred Provenza and others (including me) entitled Complex Creative Systems. While formally technical, it is an easy read, and gives a good overview of what the nutritional wisdom concept is all about, and how people like me are putting it into practice. Here's the pdf file: Complex Creative Systems, which you can also find on the website under Science, Technical Papers.
Just to let you know, Felix, Clara and Sabrina are doing fine, and have been joined by Vicky-Victoria and Georgie-girl. The names, in case you are wondering, just come to me out of the ether. Actually, I got Vicky's name wrong--tried calling her Lizzie, but it just didn't stick.
And the last bit of news is that the new colours in the 8- and 4-ply yarns are here! The boucle won't make it until sometime in December- it still hasn't left NZ.
Oh, and if you've missed earlier Yarns from the Farm, you can find them all on the website--just click on the last menu item on the home page--Yarns from the Farm.
It is surprisingly difficult to write sensibly about lambing. I don’t know if this is because it is an intimate, intense natural process filled with wonder and anxiety, or because there are so many aspects that it’s hard to know where to start. Like the character of the wool at shearing, lambing reflects the whole year’s integration of how well I have read the season and the signals from my animals and the landscape.