Where has the time gone? One thing led to another, and the next I knew…the blog had been dormant for two years. Thanks to all who sent messages encouraging me to post again, and my apologies for the length of time it has taken to get back in the saddle.
What’s been happening? After my last post, in the spring of 2012, professional work more or less took over the rest of that year. As a public opinion research consultant, presidential election years are my absolute busiest time — and 2012 turned out to be even busier than usual. In addition to voter microtargeting, and analyzing survey data, I am also part of CNN’s election night decision team; we’re the ones who decide when to project a race for a particular candidate.
Then, shortly after the election, we got big news of great joy: Mrs Yeoman Farmer and I were expecting a baby. However, the pregnancy turned out to be a physically challenging one for MYF, which meant the rest of the family needed to come together in supporting her and picking up a bigger share of the farm work. The garden was scaled back, as were the numbers of livestock we were raising.
Our new baby girl was due in mid-August, but couldn’t wait to join the fun. In mid-July, more than five weeks ahead of schedule, she decided it was time to get moving. At 7am on a Monday morning, in the car driving home from the airport after a wonderful weekend trip visiting friends and family in Seattle, I got the call from MYF that her water had broken. Once back at the farm, I whisked MYF to the hospital. We spent the rest of the day there, undergoing tests and observations, until the medical team decided Baby Girl needed to come out by emergency Cesarean.
Baby Girl is doing well and thriving now, but there were numerous complications that kept her in the NICU for nearly a month. And then she needed heart surgery in October. I will write more about some of these issues in future posts — but for those interested in a general overview of what we went through, I recently had an article published which describes that roller-coaster. Thanks to the skills of some truly amazing medical professionals, and the prayers of countless people all over the world, Baby Girl is expected to live a long and very happy life.
I don’t want to dwell too much on the brutal winter we’re now finally emerging from here in the Upper Midwest. Suffice it to say that this was easily the worst winter I’ve personally experienced in my 45 years. The snow that fell before Christmas is still out in our pasture. Our hay field finally became visible again last week, as did our lawn. We expect cold winters in Michigan, but what made this one so difficult was its relentlessness. Usually, we get an arctic blast and some snow — and then a few days where the temps go above freezing, the snow melts, and it’s merely “cold” for a little while before the next storm passes through. Those periodic thaws are the stepping stones that make Midwestern winters tolerable.
This year, we didn’t get a single thaw for the entire winter. All the snow that fell…stayed. And no one knew what to do with it. We shoveled and shoveled our driveway, but soon had walls of snow high on both sides. Our church, and many big shopping centers with large parking lots, have enormous mountains of plowed snow that have now turned into stubborn icebergs. We joke that kids will still be sledding on these things in mid-May, when it’s sixty degrees out.
Today it’s in the forties, and is expected to stay above freezing all the way into next week. Our whole property is rapidly turning into a mud bog, but I’ll take that over the snow. It’s unclear when things will dry out enough to allow planting, or when the pasture will revive enough to turn the animals out on it. This year, it seems that all bets are off. So, we’re taking things one day at a time. I’m just glad we put in a larger-than-usual supply of hay. And firewood.
We had several goat kids born over the course of the winter, and are now enjoying an excellent supply of milk from the does. Surprisingly, despite the bitter cold, almost all of the kids survived. We lost a couple of them, but for the most part were able to keep the barn buttoned up tightly enough to keep them from freezing to death. I also discovered a very useful tool for winter kidding: a blow-drier! The mother goats usually get the kids licked off to dry them, but in the dead of winter…a nice warm blast of air from a hair drier gave some much-needed assistance. Also, getting the kids thoroughly warmed up means their bodies are less stressed. It seems to have helped a lot.
But the true heralds of spring are the lambs. And our first ones were born last night! I went out to the barn a little before midnight to make my final checks, and discovered that one of our mature ewes, Conundrum, had delivered a set of twin females. Both were on their feet, but pretty wet. I tried to give an assist with the hair drier, but Conundrum objected loudly. Given that it wasn’t terribly cold last night, and that our Icelandic ewes are outstanding mothers, I decided to butt out. And, indeed, they had a good night. Both lambs were dry and dancing around this morning.
I’ll leave you with some pictures of them (note the snow shovel used to block a gap in the door — there’s a stubborn chunk of frozen dirt that’s preventing the door from sliding all the way shut):
Notice the black one was even climbing all over Mom:
It’s good to be back and blogging again. I promise the next post will take less than two years to go up!