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The year in review

Sheep and goats all lined up to stare at me from a safe distance because I was holding a Santa hat.

It feels weird to be doing my year in review now. When you’re a shepherd of tiny Neolithic British sheep you start to really understand why British Celts started their new year around the first of November – late October and early November are when the sheep start breeding the new lamb crop, you see. The harvest is in, the weather is cold enough to slaughter larger animals you don’t want to feed on precious hay stores without the meat rotting before you can preserve it. The agricultural year has reset itself. By late December you’re well into getting a nice rest doing indoor things by the fire most days after a quick trip outside to check on the stock. Modern sheep might consent to lamb in the awful starving cold of February, but Soay sheep do the civilized thing and wait until late March to even start, when the cool season grasses and legumes of spring are going well to support lactating ewes.

But I digress. This has been a hard year in a lot of ways – politically, in terms of needing to change up my husbandry after exploring likely reasons for weirdly weak lambs that fail and die, and after losing 3 dogs in 7 months. But it’s also been a good year. Nemo and Beamer came into my life with help from my friends, my husbandry problem has an easy fix, and I have a cow now!

I’ve started doing some copy editing again for clients, which is delightful. I’m working on two writing projects of my own. The Guide to a Comfy Apocalypse has been persistently evading me, i think it’s just too big right now. So I’m working on a book about a Shepherd’s Year, which properly starts in November as a shepherd’s year does. And when I need a break from that I’m playing with the Hellfire Book, inspired after friend Ursula Vernon told me “I swear to God you’re like the Fox Fire books set in Hell.” And of course here at the end of the year there was the “get this website set up” project which still needs tweaking. It will always need tweaking.

Politically I’ve taken over as a co-chair of my local Democratic Socialists of America chapter and as a co-chair of the National DSA Veterans Working Group. In between farming, gardening, editing, and writing I’ll be cheerfully raising hell on the local, state, and national levels. A shepherd needs a hobby, after all!

I also got to cheerfully enable two sets of friends into poultry, which is utterly delightful and I’m extremely proud of myself.

Looking forward to 2018, lambs start arriving in March so I have until then to focus on non-sheep projects.

In June Misty the cow is due to give birth to a bouncing baby Kerry calf. I’m hoping for a boy I can keep and train, because of course I needed another training project.

I’ll be adding some infrastructure to the farm to allow me to fine tune my sheep husbandry and also keep my sheep wethers from getting quite so prodigiously fat. And I’ll hopefully dying a way in the middle of all this to get back to processing fleece and spinning so I can offer a selection of delicious wool products for sale.

Thank you so much for being part of my little farm. Your contributions make a huge difference – I can’t tell you what it’s like to not have to stress about money constantly. I am so grateful that you’ve chosen to be part of preserving Soay sheep and Kerry cows and shenanigans like gifts of poultry to my friends. My friends are very grateful too. ;)

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