It seems that some folks are wondering if we are still here. Rest assured, we are still alive and kicking, albeit with a little more sweat on our brows than normal! It has been an “interesting” summer to say the least. A spring that threatened to be extra dry has transformed into a wet and warm summer. Rain has been a regular occurrence throughout June and July. With it has been a steady stream of warmer than usual temperatures. At least the sunflowers seem happy!


From a farming standpoint, the warmth and moisture has presented us with the ultimate challenge of trying to cut and bale quality hay for the sheep for this winter. We have only miss-guessed once and had  newly cut hay heavily rained on. Luckily it was not too much hay. Nonetheless it baled into about 65 bales of nutritionless bedding instead of lush, green hay. We usually need three straight days of dry weather to get the hay cut, cured and baled (although we have managed a few successful two day “windows”). Our greatest problem has been getting Mother Nature to allow us those three straight days with any frequency. We have been cautious and have not had the cut hay rained on too much, but our caution has slowed the entire process down excessively. Some of our caution has also been based upon the fields often being too wet to support our tractors and equipment without leaving significant ruts across the field.

The sheep have had their own challenges with the hay. Their problem has been having too much to eat. The pastures that they grazed just a few days previously begin to regenerate rapidly. As a result, by the time they return to the same pasture it is once again deep, green and lush. This picture perhaps summarizes our “plight”.

Grazing in "the Orchard"The sheep are belly-deep in lush green pasture while just beyond the fence are some of our hay wagons partially full of hay in the main hay field with yet more hay to be cut.

The wet conditions have at least allowed us some time to wander at bit. The water in this picture is not one of the larger puddles in one of the hay fields. It is, however, quite close to us, just down the road a mile or two. It is Lake Michigan, along one of the rockier portions of the shoreline in Whitefish Dunes State Park, our next door neighbor.

Whitefish Dunes State ParkInland in the woods, just a few feet from the shoreline is further testimony to how damp it has been. Everywhere seems to be mushroom heaven.

Mushrooms in our woodsIf we cannot be outside working at least there things to be done with wool. Gretchen’s naturally hand-dyed yarn does eventually find its way into finished products. The warp of the nearly complete shawl is a mix of natural white and gray yarn dyed with mullein leaves, buckthorn berries, and eucalyptus leaves. The weft is undyed white. Of course, it is a given that all the yarn is made from the wool of our sheep.

shawl on the loom

We continue to slog onward. Perhaps when I get around to returning to the Ewe Turn we may even be done with haying!