Calvin the dun colored Dexter bull stares me down in my neighbor Mac Whatley's pasture in Franklinville, North Carolina. The Dexter breed is the smallest European cattle breed and was developed in Ireland. They were used for milk, meat and as oxen for work.
Though it's still cold, it's getting that time of year to start thinking about gardens. Last week my 90 year old cousin Thomas Routh and his wife Lula Mae were out in their greenhouses planting and transplanting tomatos and other vegetable plants. Thomas and Lula Mae sell plants, but they also grow a large garden and sell produce through the summer at the farmer's market in Asheboro.
We have a chicken coop in our back yard in Grays Chapel, North Carolina, and we have nesting boxes for our chickens to lay in. But, we let them free range most of the time and they occasionally decide to use other spots. When we were short of eggs for a couple of days, I looked around and found a dozen in the corner of a stable in the barn.
Every year, mid February at Ron and Ann Fay's Rising Meadow Farm in Grays Chapel, North Carolina means sheep shearing, and this was the week. Ann and Ron are fortunate to have master blade shearer Kevin Ford come in to do the job. Kevin is world class (he's a member of the US Blade Shearing Team that competes in the World championships in New Zealand) and it is amazing and fascinating to watch him work. Blade shearing is done with hand powered shears, no electricity here. Sharp blades, care and finesse is the order of the day. Kevin was assisted this year by local shearer Joy Moore. While Kevin and Joy worked the sheep, Ann with the help of friends and neighbors, inspected, cleaned and weighed the fleeces which will be on sale this Saturday.