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Grandmothers swatting flies

I’m trying to get some work done here. Really I am.  And this damn fly just won’t leave me alone.  There’s a whole huge screened-in back porch here, and he just won’t stop flying next to me, literally, right in my face.

I don’t want to or have to kill him. I mean, I could.  It’s a skill that I learned from my father, how to kill flies by clapping your hands just above where they are going to fly, unsuspecting, upwards.  I can get them almost every time. Continue reading

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Lambs in the basement: a winter flashback

A hot cup of coffee.   Crispy, almost burnt toast.  An uncomfortable sense that I’m already behind in my day.  The only thing missing in this flashback to my childhood is the sound of bleating lambs coming from the basement, awaiting their breakfast.  I half expect my mother to turn the corner into the room, berating me for still lingering at the table instead of mixing up their vanilla-smelling milk concoction, made from powered Real Imitation Milk. Continue reading


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Just the facts, ma’am

Growing up on the farm, my family was often featured in local newspapers.  Evidently it was considered quite a novelty to be a single mother with three daughters raising sheep in the midst of cattle country in Western Pennsylvania.  The articles would recount my mother’s decision to abandon city life to raise her children in the country. They would go on to describe how she started with a mere three sheep that over time swelled to 300, and the development of the cottage industry of wool and sheepskin items that we made and sold.  Each retelling had its own angle and an accompanying cheesy headline like “Sheep Farming Shear Delight for Mother and Daughters” and “The Wolfes in Sheep’s Clothing” (get it?). There was one thing they all had in common however; they always got something wrong.  It never failed that we were misquoted in some way, statistics were jumbled, or the article didn’t quite capture our true essence. Continue reading


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Even in the Face of Evidence (Lessons Learned from Sheep Farming)

Growing up, my father, two sisters, and I took many road trips to visit relatives for summer vacations.  I remember spending long hours in the car reading, singing, playing or just looking out the window as the cornfields went by.  Because of these fond memories, I looked forward to having children of my own, packing up, and hitting the road on some adventures.

One husband and two children later, I have had a few fun road trips with them, though they don’t quite look as I imagined them to be.  For one thing, while my children are avid readers, they expect that on a trip of any length that they will be watching DVDs.  As a result, not a lot of scenery watching happens.  Also, it occurs to me that perhaps they are not quite as enamored with the journey as the ultimate destination. Continue reading