Peach tree was in bloom. Cherry was just about. I wonder if the hard freeze ruined the fruit crop?
It isn't abnormal to get a last hard bite of cold this time of year. But that doesn't mean I like it.
Saturday morning Joe came over and helped us shear the sheep. Actually, we wrangled and he did all the shearing. I wasn't too sad to hand over that task to someone skilled in the arena. I enjoyed the experience of doing the shearing myself last year. If you can call it doing it myself, having so much help for my "team." However, Joe took care of our flock in about the same amount of time it took us to shear three sheep last year! While he sheared, kids gathered lambs and I banded tails. We went ahead and skirted the fleeces as we went along, just to have it done. Wool was put in bags, to await my decision.
By the time we were done, I was toast. Physically, but mostly emotionally.
Another last time on the farm.
The day was chilly and growing colder. The hills had that beautiful early spring hue and I hurt to think of letting it go. For a few minutes I changed my mind and decided to stay. Forget selling the farm and moving to Texas.
Then I got a message from one of the neighbors saying our sheep were out and heading to the road.
Apparently the newly shorn sheep were now small enough to fit through a small hole in the fence, now that their thick coats had been removed. The kids donned coats and herded the naked, spotted naughty things back to legal territory.
I looked outside the window and admitted to myself that even if I could mend all the fences and run the bakery and take care of the kids and keep up the house, I still wouldn't be near my parents. One of my friends had an emergency run up to be with her mom as she underwent cardiac tests in the ER. A good reminder why we are hoping to sell the farm and move to Texas.
The freeze, the snow, the cold all soaked into my bones. Saturday night I went to bed feeling helpless. The enormity of cleaning out, packing up and moving was too huge to consider. I picked up a little devotional book that randomly opened up to a chapter on helplessness, and how we occasionally reach a point when we must surrender, admit we can't do it all, then be still. In the stillness comes peace, assurance, and divine provision. And an open door. And extra strength.
I lay in bed in the cold and dark and wondered about my decision making. About my parenting. About my future and work and where we would live and if the farm would sell and what about the kids and their security. I wondered about our farm church and our animals and our friends. Then prayed a prayer of surrender and helplessness and remembered Anne Lamott's "Help me, help me, help me" prayer.
Waking up to the cold gray snow wasn't exactly the answer I was seeking.
As I drank my coffee and looked at the shivering willow tree, caught in the snow in her fancy spring frock, I prayed some more. Then got a phone call from another neighbor saying the sheep and lambs were on the road again. Kids went to lock the animals up in the barn until I could fix the fence in the afternoon. I looked out the window, cried and prayed again.
An answer came, an answer that was confirmed in the readings of the lectionary. The message from God was written across our farm as patches of green pasture slowly appeared through the white snow.
Spring is here.
No matter how dark the sky, how cold, how frosty, this little hard spell is temporary. Just like the end of the long winter in Narnia when Aslan returned, our snow will melt and the trees will leaf out. The seasons turn and it is time.
We shared our service together in the dining room, as it was way too cold to be outside. The fires blazed, the candle flickered and we sang. And prayed. And Rachel took her turn to preach on the scriptures we were dealt, about thirst and need, and inadequacy, and God's provision through the humble. And children climbed into laps, and wandered about the house, and colored.
Friends came over to join us for potluck and we feasted some more.
After we said goodbyes, I changed, put on the boots and a coat and headed up to the upper field. I found the hole, did a mediocre patch job, and Maggie walked up and accompanied me as I walked the rest of the fence line. It was pretty pleasant being up high, surrounded by hills and trees about to burst into life. This time of year is rather like a thirteen year old young lady, isn't it? We laughed at the antics of the lambs and baby goats. Talked about which ones we should sell first.
I can't say I feel terrific about the pile of work awaiting me, but the peace level is definitely higher than Saturday night. My parents are on their way here and Daddy is planning to help me with some projects. So are some church friends. Red buds are beginning to bloom. I noticed that the peas have finally come up. What few I planted.