New Beginnings

Whew.  Lot’s going on around here: suddenly we are surrounded by new life and new beginnings.

We broke ground last week to build a cottage for Nancy’s parents, and the entire family is involved in this transition phase. A few trees about the same age as our parents gave their lives for this project, and we celebrate their gift, even as we mourned their death. I found a beautiful trillium in the woods that will nestle the cottage, and moved it to a safe place during construction. Mom and I will find a new home for it back in the cottage woods, once building is complete.

Friday, we picked up ten newly hatched chicks to raise for the table. They are perky little “Freedom Rangers (http://www NULL.jmhatchery NULL.html),” which are slower growing than the traditional Cornish Cross broilers most raised commercially. We like them because they are alert, hardy, and act like normal chickens,  scratching around for a varied diet of bugs, grass, and greenery in all forms.  They take longer to grow, which technically makes them more costly to raise, but since we are going for quality of life of the bird as well as tasty, nutritious meat, we don’t mind.

Yesterday, I was planting vegetable starts and doing miscellaneous weeding, when I realized that Poppy, our little Jack Russell, who is usually my constant sidekick, was  routinely leaving me to go back to the house. She was due to have her first litter of pups in a week, and I have been keeping pretty close tabs on her wellbeing and activity level. She would bring me her ball to throw, but something was different about her affect. By 4PM it became clear that she was in early stages of labor. Everything stopped, and we settled in for an evening of sitting with her while she moved through the phases of giving birth. She was a trooper, and maintained a quiet calm as she panted through contractions for 4 hours and then pushed for another hour before the first puppy was born. She worked so hard that last hour that I called the breeder who is my mentor, to find out if I should start to worry. Before I could alert the emergency vet clinic that we might be coming in, the first baby presented herself, and the moment of worry evaporated. By 11:30, she had delivered three beautiful babies, a girl and two boys. We held a sleepy vigil for another half hour, waiting to see signs there might be more coming, but mom was engrossed with her babies and no longer stopping for contractions. Everyone was healthy, dried off and nursing, and we all retired for the night. Poppy and I slept fitfully, she with her babies in a basket next to our bed. Hers was a night of vigil, rearranging herself, cleaning, nursing and getting acquainted with her new brood, and figuring out how to avoid laying on them. Every time one of them squeaked, I was awake and checking on her, which in turn made Bob stir….

This morning all is well, if a bit slow from lack of sleep. The sounds of the excavator rumble outside, preparing the cottage site for its foundation. Bob has checked in on the baby chicks, and I’m about to email news around to the dog lovers in our circle of friends and family-a week early. Life-and new beginnings-is good. For more pictures, see the photo gallery on our Sweetlife Farm Facebook page. (http://www NULL.facebook

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