Trying to sort through my foggy memory of the last year, trying to decide what to share, is difficult. When I shared my entries I wrote so far with my parents, my mom asked me “ what about those first 6 months? All that work you did?” So I started reminiscing.
I really wish I had a camera mounted in that barn during the first few months because my writing is not good enough to paint an accurate picture of how that looked.
Our barn was really too small and we started out with 110 animals all together in one big pen. This looked so nice at first. The animals had lots of room to move around and they seemed quite comfortable. As we got into lambing, the temporary fences started flying! I would build a bunch of fences and nail them to whatever support beam was available to section off the barn into multiple pens. By the end of it, it was a maze of pens with no doors. I had to climb over all of them to get to the next. It was so much work! Every time I came into the house, I was soaked in sweat.
When it came time for feedings, it got dangerous! Since I was in the pen with the animals, I would get trampled. I had to be fast and strategic about how I fed as I had to race the animals around the barn. I often had my cousin’s kids around visiting the animals and they knew when it was food time, they had to get out of the pens. Usually they watched and laughed as I got my workout.
One time I actually had to call my dad on my cell phone from the barn for him to come help me because I was cornered by the animals and I could not get out! I really wish I had a picture of that. In those busy days, I certainly wasn’t stopping to take selfies! Also, if I was lucky to have help in the barn I wasn’t wasting any of that precious time asking my help to take pictures either.
Dad (Pépé) and Marcel checking everything out.
There were numerous times the sheep had escaped on me. Being woke up in the middle of the night by mom telling me my sheep were all over the front yard was not my idea of a good time. And I am sure if you asked my dad, who was out helping me get them back in, he would more than agree with me.
All this work, including learning to lamb was done with only a few hours of experience WATCHING Gab and Jean-Paul in the barn in Quebec. This was absolutely crazy. If I had expected that much work, I would never have agreed to it! But sometimes the unknown is a blessing. We were faced with challenges that we just had to overcome and we did it. We had to start somewhere and this was our starting point. If we wanted to move to P.E.I, this is what we had to do to get here.
My advice today: Whatever your project may be, make sure you put a lot of thought into the logistics of it. What help are you going to need? Are there people around you can call when you need a hand? This makes me think of yet another time our sheep escaped ( we had Marcel out with us in the stroller) and Gab (who was home for the weekend) asked me if I had a list of people I could call? I was so annoyed. I smart-assly responded “ Of course! My EMERGENCY SHEEP- ESCAPE RECALL LIST!” It was a joke at the time, but really….it would have been quite convenient! I did end up getting on the phone , dialing anyone I could think of who might be free at 1 o’clock in the afternoon on a weekday. If you don’t have these kinds of support systems, that’s ok too, just make sure your project size and details are appropriate for the 1 or 2 of you that are going to care for it.
Many thanks goes out to the overwhelming amount of friends and family that have, and continue to, lend a hand when they are able. This is just one of many occasions when our friends from Nova Scotia came over to help on the farm.