It’s a cold, dreary, dark day at the end of a couple of months of cold, dark and dreary. Or maybe a year of cold and dreary if we include the pandemic. But it’s also the beginning of a New Year. Which brings to mind hopes and dreams for the future.
The hardest part of the past year has been how this pandemic has affected our son, Peter. As a person with Down Syndrome, his social life revolves around a couple of friends who take him bowling, to movies, out to lunch, or horseback riding. He is also close to his brothers and sister, whom he especially looks forward to seeing during the holidays. Unfortunately all that has come to a stop since March 2020. No outings with friends, no family visits. The couple of times he ventured out and had to wear a mask ended in panic attacks. So, for Peter, the ranch has become his life, his home, his total being. We don’t have enough work yet for him to stay busy most of the day or week. So, he escapes into his TV shows – “Heartland” being one of his favorites – and his “friends” now live in Canada.
Last year we were able to go on a couple of horse camping trips and day riding, but the Oregon rain and lame horses have put a bit of a kibosh on those outings. Christmas and the New Years holidays were quiet at home with Mom and Dad. Do any of you know a 22 year old who wants to spend all day, every day at home with their parents? Peter is not one of them. So…we are looking forward to the future. A future with travel, visiting family, outings with friends, and hopefully his sister moving back to the states with her husband. But only when and if the coronavirus is contained by vaccines and better social action.
In the meantime, there is the ranch. We recently added 3 baby Jersey/Angus cross bull calves to our herd. We are excited about the Jersey Angus cross because they should give us flavorful meat that is also tender and well marbled. Peter happily works with these calves and uses his experience at the dairy to bottle feed them twice a day. In a couple of months, they will join last year’s bottle fed babies and will enjoy the green, green grass of the Oregon summer. They are so cute and so friendly.
Our ranch plans for this year are to introduce chickens to our pastures, plant more fruit trees and start selling beef, lamb, and eggs at the local farmers market. Paul has been welding an old hay feeder into a portable chicken coop to roll among the pastures. Chickens in our pasture will help to create healthier soils for our animals and the earth. Paul’s “chicken tractor” in the works:
Five of our ewes are due to lamb in February.
We are moving the lambing pens and working on a more permanent chute and table to enable easier hoof trimming and shearing. One month to get it done!
The sun will come out. The virus will be vanquished. We will visit with others again. In the meantime, we will continue to stay safe at home on the ranch. And make plans for a year of new and exciting times. Farm dinners on the veranda anyone?
Check out our prices and let us know if you are interested in any beef or lamb. (Our chickens are on strike at this time.) We will safely deliver to the Eugene area. Best wishes to all of you for the coming year!