This winter (one that never seems to end) has been one of reflection for me. For the last several years, I have used winter as a time to dream, learn, and plan for the following year. With our recent move from the farm to the city, I’ve had different things on my mind. Losing our lease on the farm not only meant a change of location, but a complete change of lifestyle. The giant question of “What happens to Black Sheep Farms?” has hung over our heads for many months now. For five years, we have talked about the farm, showed off the farm, taught about the farm, and loved the farm. When we moved, we wondered, can we still do these things? I knew that I would not stop growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers, but would we still be farmers? This was on my mind as I was tilling up some lawn in favor of food the other day. “How will I introduce myself now?” I thought. Before I started farming, I was just a stay-at-home mom, or just a teacher to my 3 boys. When we started farming, I told people I was a farmer, but just a small-time farmer. Now that we are even smaller, what do I say? I’m just a backyard gardener? Then it struck me, why do I put that word “just” in front of everything? It belittles what I do, makes me seem less than, somehow. So I thought, what if I replaced the word “just” with something else….like PROUD? Then I become a proud gardener, teacher, and mom. Which is exactly what I am.
So I’ve been concentrating a lot lately on everything I am. Everyone can create a list of what they lack, or how they are less than they want to be. We are good at recognizing how we don’t stack up to everyone around us, or to the image in our heads of what we think we should be. I’m erasing all those lists and replacing them with lists with titles like, “Positive things I did today” or “Things I am good at” or “Things that don’t suck”. It is not easy for me and I don’t always have much to put on those lists, but it’s a start. I love the connection I have with my kids because I stay at home with them and teach them every day. I love to grow plants of all kinds. These things don’t make me “just” who I am, these things make me proud of who I am.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on April 12, 2013
I thought we would share our first bouquet of the season. Enjoy.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on April 7, 2013
It’s Spring, and that means Black Sheep Farms is hosting another round of Chicken Academy. Find out how to keep feathery friends for eggs and enjoyment. Yes, you can keep birds in the city!*
We are offering classes at 10am and 2pm on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28. Each class runs approximately 90 minutes and covers all major topics on urban chickens. Learn about housing, care, and more.
Class size is limited. Register for tickets now.
*Applies is most Omaha metro areas. Check with your homeowners association or city permits department before any purchase.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on March 31, 2013
I know we’re jumping ahead of ourselves: Spring officially starts in six days. But today’s weather has been amazing! Kelly and I took a walk today, and the wave of green has started to reveal itself. The melting snow is making the ground a soggy mess, but we will be able to sow new seeds soon.
What can the home gardener grow now? As soon as the soil dries a bit, you can sow peas, potatoes, and hardy greens like kale, chard, and spinach. I can hardly wait to eat something fresh!
Posted by blacksheepfarms on March 14, 2013
It may surprise you to hear this, but one of my most valuable gardening tools is my paper shredder. Yup, a good ol’ paper shredder that everyone has to shred their sensitive documents. How is that a gardening tool you ask? Well, from the shredder comes valuable material that can be used several different ways in the garden.
The two ways I use it most are for adding dry, or brown, materials to the compost pile and for worm bedding. I keep several worm bins going at a time, so I need lots of bedding. In addition to sensitive documents, I shred old school papers, newsprint or any other old papers I have lying around (and I usually have PLENTY).
After a few short weeks, the paper bedding is broken down and the worms are ready for a new bed. How is that for protecting your identity?
*Sometimes I forget to take the plastic windows off envelopes before I shred them and I find them later like this: It is a pain to dig through and find those pieces, so do remember to pull those off!
Posted by blacksheepfarms on January 4, 2013
Today, Kelly snapped a photo of the snow on our raised beds. Enjoy!
Posted by blacksheepfarms on December 19, 2012
Molly as a pup
Today, we had to say goodbye to our little dog, Molly.
On Sunday, we noticed that she was behaving strangely. She tipped a potted plant in the living room, then began digging holes all over the yard. When we took her to the veterinarian on Monday, he said that Molly had a severe infection and was digging holes to lay in them and cool her fever.
We put her on antibiotics, but she showed little improvement during the week. This morning, she couldn’t even walk. Her kidneys were failing, and there was no real hope for her recovery.
Molly was only 3 1/2 years old, and she lived a full life for a dog. She spent nearly the entire time on a big, old farm where she could run, explore, bark at critters, and keep us company in the fields. She accompanied us on walks, herded pigs, and killed our dang chickens. She moved to Omaha with us and was the best behaved dog in the neighborhood.
Molly grew up under the guidance of Lexie, our previous dog, and she proved to be a remarkable friend. We never thought that any dog would be as good as Lexie, and Molly proved us wrong. We wish we could have had her for many more years. Goodbye, little girl.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on November 16, 2012
Looking back three years, almost all of our November posts were about turkey. I cherish the memories of the turkey gang who would roam the farm, puffing out, and calling out challenges to any imagined threat.
If you listen to NPR or watch food shows on television, you’ll probably start hearing about heritage turkeys. I am always amazed at how much money some people spend on a bird, but it’s certainly a centerpiece to the meal for most families.
This year, I’m looking forward more to the veg, especially sweet potatoes!
Posted by blacksheepfarms on November 8, 2012
Today, urban farming revealed its quirks.
Kelly has a friend in Benson who has an art studio, and posted on Facebook that she had hay bales to give away. After I got home from my office, I hitched up the trailer – the back half of a 1960 International pickup – and headed over there.
As I pulled up, I saw a gaggle of artists and hangers-on going in and out of the roll-up door behind the studio. Cowboy boots are now the footwear of choice, apparently, which struck me as ironic since I was wearing a pair, too.
They gave me some help loading the 12 bales, and I was on my way back to our developing .17 acre urban farm… with hay from an art project. These will provide bedding for the chickens and line the raised beds we construct in the spring. Life is connected in many ways.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on October 16, 2012
As we prepare to leave the Bennington farm, we are busy making lists. There are things to do, calls to make, and people to see. But, the lists that are most poignant are the things we will miss and the things we won’t.
Miss: the privacy, the brightness of the stars, the sense of space, watching Molly run full speed, the bird opera, the late night echoey owl hoots, the endless stimulation for our young Nature Scientist, our guests and visitors, and the direct relationship with the seasons.
Won’t miss: the gravel dust, skunk season, watching for deer on the highway, the long drives into town, acres of weeds constantly challenging us, forgetting to turn off the water hydrant, and managing a house without central air conditioning.
Of course, the lists go on. I am sure that the coming months will remind us often of these past years. Moving to Omaha and urbanizing our farm will be a huge adjustment and opportunity, and we are ready for what lies ahead.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on September 8, 2012