Bronte thinks she’s “this close” to getting a mole…

Oof, I’ve been gone for a bit. After lambing, there were taxes. It’s hard work doing two small businesses, and I always have to look up a bunch of stuff related to farming that’s not well defined in Turbotax. And then, I got a new job. It’s kind of a funny story how it worked out. I used to work for Philips- you know, the big company that makes light bulbs, DVD players and all sorts of stuff. I worked in the medical device division, designing software for ultrasound machines. During the economic downturn, our company suffered like most, the project on which I was working got canceled, and I got a layoff notice last August.

But, I had been there thirteen years, so the severance package was pretty good. They left us on the payroll for a bit, and then my cash-out and vacation accrual amounted to about six months’ pay. Of course I was eligible for unemployment benefits after that as well.


A green garter snake

Job hunting was slow last winter, not a lot of companies were hiring, and competition for available openings was fierce.  I applied diligently and got several interviews, but got beat out each time. So, I just didn’t worry about it too much. I’ve seen many layoffs in my years at Philips, and I’ve seen some really awesome engineers get let go, sometimes people whom I thought were far more valuable employees than myself. You just never know when it might happen to you. I’ve always taken the “8 months expenses in savings” idea seriously, and Kirks’ business has been steady, so we were OK.


Fat, pregnant ewe stuck on her back #1...

The time off was awesome. I fenced the second field. I bought more sheep. I attended several conferences and classes I’d otherwise not have had time for. I got the barn plans well under way. And I was able to be here for all of the lambing. I’ve not had any time off from working or being a full-time student since a few weeks in my first summer of college. So, it was a pretty refreshing sabbatical!


Fat, pregnant ewe stuck on her back #2...

In February, a friend of mine still working at Philips alerted me to some job openings in the defibrillator product group. Philips didn’t seem to be advertising their job openings anywhere, and I hadn’t thought to look on their website for postings, or even to check what their policy was on returning employees. But, what the heck, I threw my hat in the ring. And, I got hired (well, after two months  of hiring process, I got hired, that is). It turns out their policy states you can’t come back for six months, and I’m just over that. I ended up getting a project manager position, which is a higher pay grade, so I even got a small raise. I get to keep my thirteen years of service, so I get more vacation than being a new employee somewhere else.


Chicken who thinks she's cleverly hidden a nest in the grass...

So hey, you can’t beat that! 😀 Sweet! The downside is I have to commute to Seattle for the month of April, and boy, that is grueling. I think I’ve nailed the best commute time frames to get me there in about an hour. But still, even if I eat lunch at my desk, it makes for a long day. And I think being a new employee is always tiring, you are learning and taking in so much. So I’ve been exhausted. My hat is off to people who do that commute long term!

In two more weeks, our division is moving to Bothell, to the site where I worked before. I can’t wait for that, both to see my old friends again, as well as get a little less time in the car and a little more time for sleep!

And here are just some random photos that have been accumulating on the farm.


One of the tiny lambs getting a "bottle boost"