October is a busy month here on the farm. Ushered in with beautifully warm days, cool nights and dazzled by the glorious scarlet and golden mountainside, it is hard to fathom that in just a few weeks the shadowy banks along the creek will be frozen and the colourful trees bare. After our Thanksgiving, it is a steady effort to plant the garlic, add composted manure to the garden beds, and tidy up the farm for winter. The greenhouse is organized, the hoses are coiled, the tools gathered. October is the month of organizing and inventorying.
At this same time, the barn needs a final mucking before we begin a deep litter of straw for the colder months. My oldest son and my husband spent an afternoon hauling wheelbarrow loads to the garden, adding black gold to our raised beds. Hooves are trimmed and sheep assessed for any medicines needed, which is rare. The last load of hay is tucked into the shed and the sheep enjoy final grazing before the ground is frozen for the next 4 or 5 months. This year, Josh borrowed a small tractor from a friend and cleaned the home pasture, moving several loads of soil, manure and composted straw to a new pasture area that will turn into rich grass next summer.
Inside, by the warmth of the cookstove, I watch as the blustery breeze whips the leaves into swirling dervishes while the sheep graze outside the window. It is the only time of year they are allowed to be my garden assistants, munching on rose bushes and aster flowerheads, sprinkling their pellets amongst the soil. Their fleeces are thickening as the weather cools down, and inside I am surrounded by bins and bins of their wool, tagging and sorting and weighing yarn. I am also doing some housekeeping in the form of ordering more dyes, contacting yarn shops, and lining up a few craft shows. I dream of a studio to work in as our house is becoming more cluttered with all the yarn drying on racks, resting in bins, or stacked on the kitchen table awaiting sorting. Truthfully, it is a good problem as it means my inventory is increasing and it is so thrilling to me to see all I can soon offer.
Because I am awaiting another ankle surgery in early December, this fall has been fairly sedentary for me. My husband has really stepped in to take care of my sheep and do the daily chores, in addition to working off the farm as a contractor and then coming home to help in the kitchen. It has been an intense season of our life, but one he has managed to do with grace and positivity. Normally, he is more of the fence fixer or the post pounder while I am the hands on shepherd in all other ways. But this has not been a normal fall since breaking my ankle badly in early August. On the positive side, it has allowed me to do a lot of thinking about the direction I want Wool Maiden to go and I am excited! After years and years of focusing solely on mothering and family and homeschooling, I feel I am able to put a little more energy into my yarn business and I have some exciting plans for 2020!
November is around the corner and with it comes the excitement of breeding season and the welcome of new arrivals to our farm.