Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Building Community with livestock and chainsaws

The other day Mark, Sploge and I took a ride out to a farm. Sploge is our Black Romney/ Dorset ram and his "services" are required for a flock of ewes in Farmington. It was quite an adventure! There was no problem getting him into the back of the car. He sorta surfed in the hatchback all the way without a baa to be heard. When we arrived we put his harness on and lead him into the barn where the ladies were waiting for him. We put him into the pen and our mild mannered rasta ram turned into a rambunctious cad. He chased the ewes around the pen. Two of the ewes escaped through the cattle panels that made up part of the pen and the third ewe jumped out of the window! Sploge ran after them and chased after the three sheep and the three heifer belted galways around the pasture. He finally realized that he would not catch them and ran off towards their green houses. We managed to tempt him with some grain and put him back in the pen. We all decided that a little courtship between our ram and their ewes might be a better approach. In exchange for Sploges visit we will receive a large round bale of hay and I can use their drum carder to card some of the wool I washed this fall.
The other night I took Tristan to his meeting for the blacksmithing association that he belongs to. I usually take this time to get some knitting done. In the process I also have learned a lot about blacksmithing. I am tempted to join and learn the skill myself. A woman; who is a member and a knitter, was telling me about the work she has done with her property. She has been building up a pasture area for her horse and harvesting trees from her woods. She has about 10 cord of trees that need to be cut. She said she was looking for someone to cut it for her in exchange for 3 cord. I volunteered Mark. Three cord of wood is equal to 600.00 or so, depending on the market. It would give us a good jump on firewood for next winter. Mark thinks he can get it cut up in a couple of days during Christmas Vacation.

These two separate occasions have resulted in a fair barter for us. It saves us some money. The hay will allow us to get a little hay ahead for the winter. Something we have not been able to do this fall. The firewood will provide some security in the future should we not have regular income next winter. But these barters do something more for us. They create connections for us.

After chasing Sploge around the farm the other day we were invited to join our farmers for a cuppa tea. We spent a good while around their kitchen table just talking about the state of affairs. It was a nice break from the hectic life we have been living lately. They have grown up in the area and shared with us stories and histories of the area. We asked questions about making a living as farmers.

It feels good to finally feel like we are making connections since moving out here. We have been so busy with jobs and kids that we have not had many opportunities to meet folks. But in our efforts to live a sustainable life; in our efforts to do what we should do Anyway, we need to be connected to our community. Human capitol is important in the informal economy. Not only for the benefits of barter but because when we are connected and building community, we can fill needs for others when we can and we can glean a sense of security by knowing that if we have a need, someone might be able to help us too.

And in the process we might have stories of randy rams to share:)


Kathy said...

Just brought a smile to my face ...

Robj98168 said...

At least he should get to take them out on a date before you know what!

Wendy said...

Too funny! Our buck rabbit was so enthusiastic when he met a doe that we renamed him "Randy." Thankfully, the pun was lost on my young daughters ;).

I couldn't agree with you more, though, that the network you're building is integral. We all need these mutually beneficial relationships that aren't centered on money.

After knowing some of the stuff you dealt with before, it's very nice to hear that you're settling in there and things are a little less ... exciting :).