Monday, June 8, 2015


It's going to be a good year for apples. the trees upstate were full of flowers a few weeks ago when spring started. spring which is now practically summer.
it's been a really chaotic spring/summer and I've barely hung on at moments, between the chaos of lambing and wedding season. At my worst I get resentful. When people ask me things and ask to come to the farm and ask for internships -- all things I want -- but there is not enough time. there's not enough energy. so i'm learning about urgency, and prioritizing. 



Once someone said to me; "everyone wants to think they are a giver." I love that, I think it's so true. giving and taking. in my eternal quest for balance or some semblance of it I realize there is no such thing and that sometimes the scales tip one way, sometimes the other. I had a moment yesterday with sheep. i was eating a bunch of strawberries and walking up to the field. I found a little brown lamb, one of my favorites, and fed the ends of the berries to her. she seemed to like them so much. then I picked her up and held her for a while. she's one of the few small enough to hold. she sniffed around my face and put her mouth on my nose. her little mouth smelled like grass and strawberries. its was a moment where I felt immensely lucky.


what I need to do is write about vitamin b, tell you about her and remember what it was like to have this sick lamb and try to save her and then what it was like when she died. 
to some extent I've avoided writing about it, not because it was so hard or maybe because it was. 

we called her vitamin b because the first time i tried to give her an injection I put the needle right through and shot her fleece up with vitamins. the smell of the vitamins stayed on her for weeks and was still faintly there the morning she died. we have a few little black lambs and you could always tell vitamin b by picking her up and smelling her back. smelled like the softest biggest multivitamin. 

i don't feel like writing about her yet, because i don't feel like crying and I can't really do this without getting upset.



but here's the thing - the most important thing in all of this that I realized yesterday that I want to share: you don't get to kiss a lamb that smells like strawberries without also having to witness one suffering and then die in your arms. that is just life. it's like a wave chart, up and down. the crests correspond to the troughs, they have to; its physics.

For me the challenge is to be equally present for both sides of that wave. 

18 comments:

Sarah said...

This is so beautiful, and beautifully honest. I read it twice and wanted to cry both times. You are a giver. ♥

LPC said...

I thought I was going to be able to get through this post without having to tell you I love you, but, nope. <3

Shelley said...

You're young to be figuring out this difficult relationship between joy and grief. But I'm not surprised.

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Amara said...

I like that analogy - the crests and troughs of the wave. We always talk about this sort of thing at church, but I never heard this analogy used before. It will help me in the future troughs so thank you for that.

Leah said...

Beautifully put. There are ups, and there are downs. They go together. In times where the highs are the highest it also seems to lowest are the lowest. Gorgeous photo of your sheep.

Shelly said...

Amen, sista

Marlene Fiorisi said...

Oh jeeeez. That was beautiful....M

Anonymous said...

Yes, exactly.

Anonymous said...

Life can be really heartbreaking.

Desi McKinnon said...

The risks of joy are great. So beautifully put.

Connie Gordon said...

One of the parts of farm life you become accustomed to. As a kid growing up on a farm I understood why certain animals were not given names. Like the beef cattle...Lovely post. Our apple crop in Colorado will be huge again this year. Last year it was an avalanche of apples.

Kate said...

"For me the challenge is to be equally present for both sides of that wave"

So true. Whenever we try to live our best lives, the highs are really high, and the lows are super low. Thanks for being so honest about yours.

cara said...

Shit. We're currently debating taking up sheep farming. I don't think I have the nerve for it though.

Grace said...

Thank you for sharing your recent experiences with life, death, and fluffy sheep. Three people in my life have died in the past two months. I find it difficult to talk about and accept life/death, but I'm working on it.

Melissa Lee said...

Sarah this is brilliantly written. Life can get cruel but it does stay somewhat fair with this strange balance.

Miss you and the crew and the days at Saipua.

Anonymous said...

thank you for telling us your stories and helping us all keep things in perspective ...

Sarah said...

Your honesty, Sarah, is refreshing. Having grown up in a religious cult, same one as the Duggars, your comments on modesty/feminism are really appreciated! I couldn't help but laugh and curse at the same time. Yes, I agree, PP is messed-up-gross. I'm glad these sort of things are exposed, but simple exposure doesn't solve the problem. The struggle is always there. Reading C.S. Lewis' (yes, regardless of my upbringing I'm still religious... but not in the Dugger-way anymore, thank God!!) The Problem of Pain, was hugely helpful. I love his depth and complicated ideas, they make me feel scholarly just reading them, but he has some jewel-like sentences that might help you in your struggle.

I'm sorry about you little brown one. I had a lamb die when I was a girl, but it wasn't a sweet and gentle moment, wild dogs, or something. Ew.

I think as floral-artists we deal with "the waves" and death on a daily basis. We are in the business of death and dying. We cut off life in order to bring beauty into an un-natural environment; to bring smiles to those of our kind. I struggle with this, daily. The thought that helps me reconcile this juxtaposition is the idea that by my art, I am planting smiles, delivering beauty.

My thoughts are all over the place on this... In order to grow new plants a seed must "fall to the ground, and die". It's from this dying that new life sprouts. All growing things must be buried in the dark at some point, right? My question then is this: Is our arranging like the seeds? Are we planting seeds of delight, or happiness, or whatever in others? Something they will look back on and remember with fondness. And... is this ok? I guess so, I don't know. Sh*t.