On the farm, there are always days that are more difficult than others. Today is one of those days. For just over 14 years, Painted Rock Franklin has been around and, more recently, just kept me company in the barn. He was a quiet, gentle soul and would often just follow me around to see what I was doing. This morning, it became painfully obvious that it would necessary for me make the dreaded 'quality of life decision' for him.
Franklin was always a special fellow....he was chosen by my youngest daughter, Kristin, as her ram lamb to be shown at the local fair back in 2002. Kristin showed Franklin that same August and won Reserve Champion in the Open Class. She was so proud!
And this is one more reason that makes losing Franklin pretty tough...you see, Kristin passed away unexpectedly from complications following an emergency surgery just a couple of months after the fair in 2002. Losing a child is something no parent should ever have to endure. My faith has sustained me through this loss all these years. I don't know where I would be today without my relationship with Christ and I cannot fathom walking through such depths without Him.
In 2003, one year after Kristin's death, we took Franklin back to our county fair. A dear family friend, Chelsea, showed him in Kristin's honor and they won the Grand Champion ribbon. It was a bittersweet show season that year, one we will always remember.
When we chose our daughter's headstone, it was only fitting that Franklin join in honoring her short life. There is a small tribute page to her on our website but nothing on this earth can fill the loss. Our hope is in Christ and eternity in Heaven, where we will see her again...some day.
Today, Franklin crosses the Rainbow Bridge where I am sure Kristin is waiting to greet him.
Rest easy, sweet boy. Snuggle kisses to Kristin!
We'll see you all soon...
It won't be long before we wrap up another year and enter into what many label new beginnings in 2016. In the northern hemisphere, winter is the season of the Christmas and New Year holiday time. I'm glad for this. Winter has always been a welcome relief for me in the four seasons we experience here in West Virginia. I love the snow, the cold and the quiet that comes during winter. Walking outdoors after a new fallen snow is one of the quietest times a person can experience. The birds and other animals are typically hushed and going outside into silence is a cherished time!
As 2015 draws to a close, let us each remember the true Reason for the Christmas season: Jesus Christ. It's Christ that defines CHRISTmas and the gift of Grace and Mercy from His holy birth provides us hope in this fallen world. He is the best gift one could ever receive, won't you unwrap your personal relationship with Him today? I can promise that you will be forever changed!
In 2016, I still see hope on the horizon. There is much uncertainty in the US right now. The economy, jobs, wars and rumors of war dominate the news and often times our thoughts more than it really should. I see hope because Christ has overcome this present darkness. I've read the Book, The Bible, and He has already fought the battle and has overcome it all! This is the Good News and His Gospel of Love, Grace and Mercy is always my hope. It's easy to get distracted by all the 'noise' of our time but I encourage you to seek Him, seek His perfect will and you will find Him. While none of us knows what may lie ahead in such times of uncertainty, I know My Savior lives, He loves and He is coming again soon. Remain watchful, pray unceasingly in good times and in bad and be thankful for His gift of eternal life that awaits those who know Him.
October is history and November is upon us! Daylight savings time has ended and it will be dark sooner each evening. This time of year carries with it both a sense of urgency and a sense of relief. Urgency in trying to finish up on the projects list before winter sets in and makes many outdoor tasks difficult or down right impossible. Relief comes, however, in knowing fall and winter tend to bring a slowing down for us on the farm. It never stops, of course, as there is always something to be done. Perhaps its the shifting of work from outdoors tasks to inside work that has been set aside for several weeks that makes being 'home' so much more desired for us.
Evenings can now begin a little earlier. Dinner time consists of those warm comfort foods like vegetable soup or a big pot of beans. There is just something magical about the smell of firewood, soup and something baking in the oven. Summer time just cannot compete with how much more relaxed fall and winter are on the farm. While the joys of summer are coming to a close, we look forward to a time of refreshing that this next season brings.
The leaves are changing and one can definitely sense that Fall has not only arrived but is quickly settling in. Breeding season is just around the corner and the rams are beginning to show off with bouts of head butting, lip curling and general displays of boy behavior. The ewes are becoming more vocal and we've relocated the large group out of sight to the rams.
Fall is a favorite time of year, although I personally cannot wait for winter and the first snow! But autumn signals our hardest work efforts should be winding down with the bringing in of hay and grain storage. Farm work is hard work but it has rewards that far exceed monetary pay outs. Just ask any shepherd or farmer and you'll soon learn why this way of life is our chosen field.
The end of October should take us to the Southeastern American Fiber Festival in Asheville, NC. There we expect to deliver some reserved sheep and take in the festival for the last weekend of the month (weather permitting, of course). We plan to take some remaining wool to be dropped off for processing and maybe enter some of our better raw wool in the Fleece Show!
As for the rest of 2015, we are still slowly down-sizing the flock as best we can as homes/farms become available for placement. With more than 100 animals, we need to bring down our sheep to more manageable numbers. We will be doing some limited breeding again this fall to keep the supply of varied genetics available to current and new customers. To see which sires we have chosen to use on our ewes this fall, check out the following page: Breeding Line-Ups.