The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

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look who finally arrived!

Goat with baby kids
We came home from church on Sunday and after lunch Rory went out to feed Miracle. He came running back telling us we had to get to the barn, now! Hattie and Alden were already down for their naps so I grabbed my camera and followed behind.

Running out to the barn
And there we found Darcy, proud mama of two of the most darling, adorable goat babies ever. And they were born on Pentecost! We have had so many animal births happen on a Sunday morning while we’re at church! Either that, or on a holiday. Palm Sunday (Sunday), May Day (Mayday), my birthday…which was also a Sunday (Miracle and Big Sister), my cousin Sarah’s birthday (Sugar Cookie and Snowflake) and now Pentecost!

The black one is a girl and the brown one is a boy. Ivar spoke like a wise old man when he told me, “well, I’m a little sad that he’s a boy because I know what that means. But we will just be sure to give him the best life possible, here on our farm.”

Baby goat up close

So the boy (the brown one above) is named DandyLove. In honor of dandelions and love. The person who picked that name has a name that rhymes with Shmelsie. Ivar prefers Dandelion.

And the little girl is named Penny after Pentecost. The person who came up with that name has a name that rhymes with Meccalecca high mecca hiney ho.

We are in love. They are so darling. The world needs more goat babies. It would be such a better place.

Baby goat
Baby goat

To My Child by Anne Campbell

You are the trip I did not take,
You are the pearls I did not buy,
You are my blue Italian lake,
You are my piece of foreign sky.

You are my Honolulu moon,
you are the book I did not write,
you are my heart’s unuttered tune,
you are a candle in my night.

You are the flower beneath the snow,
in my dark sky a bit of blue,
answering disappointment’s blow with
“I am happy! I have you!”


Anne Campbell, “The Poet of the Home” (1888-1984)

Anne Campbell - Poet of the Home“Thousands of people know and love Anne Campbell, the only woman in this country who writes a poem a day. Here is a woman who is essentially a poet of the common-place. Her verses dramatize the contacts of every day. She writes of the home and all that it implies. She writes of children and does so with understanding, having two boys and a girl of her own (in private life she is Mrs. George W. Stark, wife of the dramatic critic of the Detroit News). In fact, her children’s poems, while they always possess an appeal for little ones, are written with the adult viewpoint. And she writes authoritatively of the farm and country, for she was born and reared in the back country of Michigan.

“Although Anne Campbell has written all her life, it was only three years (1920) ago that she attempted the task of writing a poem each day. At that time she was engaged for this work by the editor of the Detroit News. Her verse gained instant recognition, and soon a national newspaper organization began the distribution of her poems throughout the country.”

From a speaking brochure, c 1920, Source

a country blizzard

Like most of Minnesota, we are in the middle of one incredible blizzard right now. And it’s so fun! Our big kids were out this morning and now they just bundled up again, begging me to put my snow pants on to join them. It might seem silly to go play in a blizzard, but after all of the cold weather we have had, this windy stuff combined with the white stuff is a blast.  The drifts are growing, the evergreens are gorgeous and the whole world is a wonderland.

Sheep Week

Good Shepherd

Oh my word. The sheep. First of all, they are so pretty out in our pasture. A group of fluffy white in the middle of all our green just feels right. They are pretty and pastoral. Their lambs are darling. And their loyalty to their shepherd demonstrates so much of scripture, lived out right in front of us. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” Rory and his sheep are tight. He’s a good shepherd and they’ve got a special bond.

Flock of sheep in pasture

I, on the other hand, don’t feel quite so connected to the sheep. Mostly because I’m not out there multiple times a day caring for them. But also because sheep are pretty aloof if you’re not the one bringing them their food. The goats have big personality. The sheep seem indifferent.

Anyway, Rory is trying this rotational grazing thing that is good for the soil, good for the sheep and good for sustainable land practices. He has nine paddocks set up in our orchard for the sheep to rotate on. They’ll live in one paddock for a few days before being moved to the next one and on and on. In the end, this will be a really low-key way to pasture the sheep.

But this year it has taken some serious set up. On the advice of another farmer, we didn’t let our sheep out on the pasture until June 1, so that the grass and alfalfa could establish itself after the winter. But it turns out that this year, that date was way too late. The grass took off the last week of May, and by the time we realized what was happening out there, the grass was taller than Rory!

Grass growing out of control

Sheep like young grass, the shorter stuff. Not the tall stuff. So Rory has been out there FOR HOURS mowing down the tall grass in each paddock making it ready for the white fluffs to come and lay down in his green pastures.

Mowing Tall Grasses

And then this was the week that we finally found someone to come and shear our sheep. And just in time! These poor guys have been wearing their huge wool sweaters all spring and tomorrow is supposed to hit 99 degrees here. The shearing was eventful and stressful. We had an older farmer and a neighbor come to help us with the hopes that we might learn how to shear on our own.

Shearing the sheep with Lloyd and Gary

Rory and Farmer Lloyd wrangled the first sheep out on the concrete so the wool wouldn’t be mixed with the bedding of the stalls. They wrestled that sheep to the ground and in the mayhem Rory got his finger bit so hard that blood was dripping all over that clean concrete floor. He left to clean his wound, and I left with the children, discussing what “stressful” means on our way into the house. Later, I went back out to see how it was going and a different sheep spotted me in the window, got spooked and pulled the halter loose and began running pell mell all around the barn with half a fleece trailing behind her, through the dirty bedding. I quietly backed up and pretended I hadn’t returned.

In the end we decided that we will gladly hire this job out each year. And we will forever stand in awe of 4-H children who shear their sheep with confidence and ease. Actually, we will stand in awe that 4-H children can even move their sheep from their stall out to the arena for showing. We will watch these sheep events with much more appreciation this year at the fair!

And finally, because of the heat, and because our fruit trees are still too little to provide shade, the sheep will need shade in each paddock. So Rory worked the past few nights out in the barn building a mobile shelter. It’s pretty awesome.

Portable Shelter

All in all, this whole week has been about the sheep. They even found their way out of their electric fence and into the neighbors back yard. But when Rory called to them, they came back right away. Because he knows his sheep and his sheep know him. He’s a good shepherd.

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