I've been a plant person all my life. I began growing my first garden at the age of 6. I've been doing it ever since and loving it. But, as a parent, you'll do anything for your kids so when our son Adam said he wanted to go into the grass finished meat business, of course we supported his decision.
Little did we know what we were getting into. It started small, just a couple of bottle lambs. The came three ewes which of course led to a ram, then another nicer ram. Then came the first lambs. This was all fine and well as Adam was here on the farm to tend to them. Then the big MOVE happened and Adam moved to Grand Forks for the opportunity to learn more from yet another rancher and to be closer to a larger market for his eventual meat sales.
The sheep of course stayed here on gardendwellers FARM as living in the city Adam had no place for bred ewes or new babies or stalwart rams. The cattle that Adam had worked so hard for went to a neighboring farm to winter and calve and all was well. Being a young and beginning rancher in North Dakota is tough. Land is hard to come by and expensive. Funding is harder to come by and even more expensive without collateral or down payments. So we do what we can to assist our new rancher in starting and growing his business and it's a slow and steady process.
Jump ahead to several months later - now to be exact - and here we are on a FARM but looking very much like a RANCH. My days are filled with the calling of momma sheep to their little lambs, the sounds of rams who would much rather be cavorting with the ewes and a bottle calf named Hellboy wandering my yard and acting very much like another dog.
Let me explain Hellboy first. He was born premature on a very cold day two months ago and then stepped on by his momma. We really didn't think he was going to live past his first few days. After staying at the neighboring farm for a couple days he was brought here to gardendwellers FARM to either take his last breath or survive. Our farm dog and mother of all things alive on the farm immediately took him under her wing and bonded with the poor baby. I never thought he was going to walk, let alone become more than a meal or two of veal. Somehow, with Millie the farm dog to guide him, he has flourished but now sees himself as a dog. He follows his unconventional babysitter AKA Mom around the farmyard. Goes where she goes, eats what she eats and even has tried to sneak up on a few gophers like she does. I've found him peering in my living room window and wandering my orchard in search of something to nibble on. Can't find him? Just call the dog and the two of them come running.
Then there's the sheep. I love the girls. Each with their own personality. Bubbles the party girl, Brownie the middle child in every way, Blossom the kind of neurotic and a little needy but pretty one, and finally Buttercup the most gently and kind soul I know. Between the four of them they birthed 7 of the most delightful babies you've ever seen. One single lamb and three sets of twins now grace our fenced in area behind the barn and give us daily lamb rodeos to laugh at.
Now it's spring and the list of 'PLANT' things that needs to be done exceeds the length of the day. The orchard needs pruning and mulching, and weeding. The production lot needs cleaning and preparing for seed. The flowerbeds need cleaning and planing. New apple trees arrived by mail yesterday and about 60 more trees and shrubs will arrive soon and need planting and care. We have to turn the well on, water what's in the ground, and finish coppicing the west shelterbelt before the neighbors plant their soybeans. Find the moles and gophers and cut down on their numbers (read between the lines here - they must be eliminated) and fill in the holes they have left so they are not a hazard for visitors. There's a Farm To Table Dinner to plan and several bus tours and classes this summer to prepare for.
This plant person is learning to juggle animals and plants together. Plants are so much less demanding. They don't wander away when you're not looking. Plants do stare at you and call to you when they are hungry. If you don't get them weeded right now, plants will wait until you have time or energy to deal with them.
I love the sheep - they make me laugh, they give me peace. But they also demand my time in a way this plant person is not used to. Barry is especially fond of Hellboy and I'm sure would keep him as a pet if he knew he could. But we'll have to work with our new business off shoot gardendwellers RANCH to find a happy medium where the silent plants and the mobile animals all live in peace. I'm going to have to make peace with my own time schedule to be sure nothing and no one gets left behind in this new multi-species arrangement we have. I've learned a lot in assisting our new rancher - like what a good udder looks like, how long it takes to birth a set of twin lambs, what calf crunch is, and just how much milk replacer it takes to make a bottle calf happy. Good things to know, but I'm still much more comfortable with the plants.
Now, out to find Hellboy and Millie and make sure they are not assaulting any of my non-mobile and silent friends the plants!