Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's a sheep thing, you wouldn't understand...

In December of 2002, I uprooted my entire life in a desperate act; I picked up and moved, renting out my half of a house until I could eventually sell it off to my co-owner. I came from New England. I came with mostly what I could carry, and shipped some other things. My furniture was stored in a friend's basement in Massachusetts and would remain there almost two years.

I came to live with my sister, who owned a 20-acre farm in a town called Estacada. She had a lovely historic home. She was going through a divorce, and alone in a 5-bedroom house, complete with a herd of sheep, several goats, including two pack-goats, and a llama named Bob. She also, after my arrival, added on a flock of various chickens, starting with lovely layers, like my beloved Aracaunas and golden Sexlinks, and then my BANE... the cornish cross fryers. BLECH! Dirty, disgusting things! The turkeys, ducks and other food-related birds were added on too. The quail never made it past chick-hood because something ate them (probably a raccoon); I'm not sure how satisfying a snack they were because the chicks were like little bumble-bees with legs, they were so small (they were pretty heavy on the cuteness though).

I digress... This place of my sister's was my domain while we both dealt with difficult moments in our lives. She took advantage of my presence and was gone quite a bit, traveling about, finding herself. I was left with the sheep and the goats and the chickens, finding myself. My drawings, in part, began to reflect this little world. Come Christmas, my sister asked me to come up with a set of Christmas cards, so I created the "Five Oaks Farm Friends" series; and they starred the critters that dominated my life. My sister loved them.

Ever since then, I find myself drawing these creatures. Even now that I am far removed from the muck of the barn in winter, and the heartbreak of lambing, and the feeling of self-sufficiency as I collect the pastel-toned eggs gifted to me by my gorgeous layers. It's like I'm reliving that feeling of wellbeing after coming in from the cold, wet morning, smelling of manure and with hay in my hair, and feeling the radiant warmth of the woodstove that I'd fired up that morning, and just gotten hot enough to burn that oak log that will last almost all day.

I liked it to some degree. It wasn't my dream, and it was confining sometimes, but I really liked it during the times when my sister was away and I was alone, I found that it was all the reason I needed to get out of bed and to cut kindling, and to make a nice breakfast, to walk down the long driveway to the mailbox with the dogs at my side, or to just sit in the barn and let the lambs and baby goats pester me; or listen to Bob make his weird kazoo sound whenever I came near him.

When I got a job; everything changed. I met my husband too, and my sister moved away and left us to care for her farm for a while. The time wasn't so relaxed anymore... so reflective, and the time for the animals was cut down significantly. We just fed and watered them mostly--and tried to keep up with the demands of the farm and the hellacious bills. I was relieved when my sister told me she wanted to sell the house. Sad, but relieved. It was too much. The tiny house we bought was a breath of fresh air. We were simply exhausted by everything by then.

But I do still miss the wiley little Shetland sheep; and the stupid Romneys... The mischievous goats... the ever-kazooing-and-watchful guard-Bob and his best friend Chewy... Elegant Buck Yang and his brood of goat ladies... the aracauna hens and the fine rooster, the golden sexlinks and their consistent double-yolkers... I miss them a bit. So I draw them.

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