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“Lady Joy!”

birthday epitaph farm H.O.M.E. Inc. helping home joy lamb Maine people poor ram rural sheep Sister Barbara Hance snow spring Uncategorized winter

My birthday is coming up and I just received the loveliest card from a very dear friend.  He calls me “Lady Joy” which is what I’ve decided I would like as the epitaph on my headstone someday…Gerrit says “Know that you are admired and richly loved” and then goes on to compare me to a nun in Maine.  I’m beside myself, of course, but when I turned the card over and read about “Sister Barbara Hance”, I couldn’t help but want to share her story, it is so inspiring.

Sister Barbara Hance (1928 – 1993) spent the last years of her life working for H.O.M.E. Inc., a cooperative in Orland, Maine dedicated to helping poor people work, sell crafts and vegetables, and build their own homes.  She headed efforts to establish a homeless shelter in a nearby town, when most of the town’s government and business establishment were against it, with one local businessman-councillor (Mr. “x”) particularly opposed.  The odds against the shelter were long, but in the idea’s darkets moments Sister Barbara had one piece of advice for her colleagues:  “After we win, we must make Mr. “x” a supporter.”  They did.  He was.

The front of the card depicts a fledgling Robin, I think, looking through the window at a youngster…or perhaps the youngster is looking through the window at the fledgling!  The quote, by Sister Barbara, is “Show me a day when the world wasn’t new.”  Just the message I need to hear as I approach 46 candles.

I love birthdays because to me it is an excuse to eat cake, but this year I am less enchanted as I might’ve been in the past because my body is creaky when I walk up stairs and I need to use reading glasses now as well as the crows-lines and other wrinkles remind me of the seedlings I started a few weeks ago.  They were miniscule at one point and have suddenly bloomed all over the place – absolutely flourishing from neck to forehead and I’m not accustomed to them yet.  At the same time, though, Pollyanna that I am, I realize I will never be this young again and so the negative-Nanny thoughts are fleeting.

I think that I shall name my first ewe-lamb “Lady Joy” and call her “Joy” for short.  This morning I fed my sheep and had a brainstorm as to how I could keep Balrog, the ram, for another year.  Often since I’d acquired him in December I worried that the ewes and he didn’t “produce” as planned and that his stay until another breeding season would mean sheep-management plans that would be too much work.

Either I thought that I would need to build another structure to keep him safe and separate from the ewes, or I would have to move the flocks separately and daily to get them to shelter each night.  One or the other would’ve been more work than I might’ve been able to oversee for the coming year and if there were holes in the plan, well then I might have some ewes bred that I didn’t want bred or worse yet, Balrog-the-Ram might create some damage either on the barn or the fences or some poor Wing and a Prayer farmer….

As it stands, I am a bit timid around him but we have all found that he respects Sarah Jane.  But she’ll be heading to college in the fall and that would leave Char and I to have to muscle him around and we’re both about the same height….maybe platform barn-boots or singing-Aretha would turn him around…

My plan is to create a nice little run-out/pasture for him adjacent to the rest of the flocks’ but privy to the barn door to the lamb-jug.  That way when I bring the others in at night to keep safe from coyotes, a constant fear of mine, then I can bring him in as well.  He can be shut-up safe and sound in the lamb-jug and hopefully the door is sound enough that he will not bash through it.  Yes, I intend to photograph his bashing-technique one of these days.  The large horse-stall door has been withstanding it very well and so it is my hope that the lamb-jug door would also.  If this plan works, then I will be able to feed and water him and tend to him to keep until the next breeding season.  If my relocation plans for Balrog work as I designed them in my head this morning -great!  If they don’t, then we will be looking for some mint jelly.

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