Some evenings

Some evenings you dive into the freezing pool and are grateful to cool off after several sweaty hours shopvac-ing the cobwebs from the rafters of the barn, raking the manure from the sheep stall, picking the horse stalls and paddock, moving the dairy goats from here to there, moving the lambs from there to here, bathing the odorous three dogs, moving the horses back to the field, dancing with the dairy goats to get them where you want them….

You clean up and put on a fresh outfit. That black and white polka dot sundress because it’s still summer, even though it’s the day after Labor Day, and it’s hot as Hades even though it’s 5p.m. and you haven’t thought about dinner.  You clean up.

In the kitchen you find a nice recipe for cucumber soup, which would be delicious on a hot night with deviled eggs.  You boil the eggs and peel, slice & salt the cucumbers to drain for an hour.  You notice the recipe says that after you concoct the cucumbers into the soup, it needs to chill another 3 hours before serving.  You mentally note that dinner will be after 9 by the time you wait.  You’ll give it til 7:30, then serve anyway.  Meanwhile, you chill the eggs. You puree the butternut squashes you picked from the garden & baked earlier, then turn them into a nice coconut-y, ginger-y butternut squash soup that doesn’t need 4 hours of prep.  It wants to be eaten right away, it tastes so velvety and spicy…but you wait because there is a lot of baaah-ing going on outside.

A LOT of baaah-ing.  This likely means the lambs that you’ve (re)introduced into the pasture with the rest of the flock are on their old feeding-time clock and think they should be getting their nightly supplement that they were getting in their other, less rich, paddock.  But you can’t cave, you won’t give in.  They certainly won’t starve.  The new pasture is loaded with forage and they just have to unlearn the old habits.  They absolutely couldn’t be hungry.

Meanwhile they’ve gotten the entire flock/herd going and there is baaah-ing and meh-ing and more:  grunting from that pasture piggy, Princess Peppermint.  A lot of noise out in the field.  So you find your boots and head out to see how you can help.  Just in case something’s up.

Indeed something is up.  A chocolate-y lamb, Bromley, is on the wrong side of the fence and therefore the entire flock & herd are sounding the alarm.  He’s befuddled and runs along, gorging his little self in the lusher growth that always does occur on the other side of the fence. You plan to kneel in the grass next to the fence, hoping to lure him over to the gate after you unplug the electricity that has “.5 Joules of stored low impedance power” pulsing through 6 strands.  You go to the garage and find out that the fence energizer isn’t plugged in after all.  And that explains how young Mr. Bromley had escaped.  As he grazed nearer and nearer to the fence, he never felt a charge and just pushed right through to get to the better stuff.  You recognize it is short of a miracle that the rest of the flock isn’t out in the road as well.

Bromley isn’t tame enough without his brethren to join you for a snuggle so you trek to the barn to grab a bucket with some grain and a scoop to make a jolly racket to entice him to the gate.  Of course, you know that’s going to entice the 35 others to the gate as well and you’ll have to practically jump ropes to keep them where they’re supposed to be and trick him back into the pasture.  It’s all coming down to the fast hands, fast feet, and a little bit of luck.  If you can unhook the gates (6) fast enough, zip through with the grain bucket before the rest of the sheep and goats meet you, get the attention of Bromley without spooking him, dump the treat into a far enough location to keep the rest away from the gate while you run back and hook the 6 gates back up, then dash to the garage and plug the fencer back in….you’re golden.

There were about 30 seconds in which the flock wasn’t sure if they should keep baaah-ing or not. They thought about beating you to the gate to escape, but, your heart pounding, you sprinted ahead of them and re-configured the strands with no losses. Bromley was so relieved to be with the flock again and they with him.  Everyone was quiet and resumed grazing within a matter of moments.

You then decide that you’ll do the rounds in the barn one more time to make sure no stall doors are unlocked, allowing a certain escaping pony to help herself to grain all night and colic another day.  You check the bunnies for food and water, check the chickens & ducks, turkeys and peafowl.  You tuck in the equine and caprine friends and head to the house again where you take off your mucky boots and try to remember what it was like to be clean and fresh about 2 hours ago.  There’s a chilled bottle of white wine in the fridge that would be really nice right about now, but you never feel right about drinking alone, so instead you chug some water and then the phone rings.

It’s your neighborhood animal control and they’ve got a pup that needs a home down at the kennel.  You’d met this dog and fell in love instantly, but it came from a complicated background and you weren’t sure how it’s story would turn out.  So here they are, calling you on it.  He’s to be euthanized – they haven’t placed him.  He’s 9 years old.  He’s a Springer and they’ve tried the Springer rescue to no avail.  You have Springers.  In fact, this pup looks an awful lot like your dear old Abe.  You make arrangements.

It’s going on 8 and the woman that you were supposed to deliver a chicken to texts you that she’s going to bed, so leave the chicken with her husband and daughter.  Oh! Right! It’s dark now and you grab a towel and a canvas tote, your purse and your phone with the flashlight so you can see what you’re doing.  Your overstuffed purse swings like a pendulum from your shoulder while you shove your feet into your boots, hoping that later you can pull them out because you didn’t have time for fresh socks and they’re likely going to stick to your bare feet.  You’re sporting that polka dot dress, still, but it’s not so clean anymore so what does it matter if it gets chicken poop on it.  You go into the chicken yard with your little phone/flashlight beaming out in front of you and the first hen you lay light on is THE hen that is destined to the new home.  You pick that sweet little girl up and place her into the canvas bag where she doesn’t make a peep.  Into the car and down the road you go with your quiet, chicken-napped passenger.  You open the bag up so as to reassure yourself that you are not smothering her.  She doesn’t try to escape – it’s pitch black in the car.

You pull up to the house that’s half-asleep in North Bennington and knock on the door.  The Mr. answers and you go out to the back hen-house and find a good place to put that sweet little chicken.  She doesn’t budge and you place her right in the middle of two other hens that had come from your coop a few weeks before.  Hopefully, in the morning, everyone wakes up and thinks they’ve all been together all along.

You shoot the breeze for awhile and finally head home.  And guess what?  It’s about 9:30 so you can finally have that cold cucumber soup.  Because, by golly, it’s time for it to be served.  And it is delicious.  And then you clean up for the final time that day, and you go to bed, excited for tomorrow  – for a really good cup of coffee in the morning, for healthy horses hopefully, for healthy goats and sheep and poultry, and, for a new dog that is, please dear Lord, going to get along with everyone else and they’ll get along with him.  But if it doesn’t work out, you’ll work it out.

You think on this…and then a whopper of a rainstorm unloads and you remember you left the horses out to pasture.  You climb out of bed and into your boots…

Where the grass is always greener...

Where the grass is always greener…




4 responses to “Some evenings

  1. There must have been something in the air yesterday! Joanna and I were just getting ready to prepare dinner when the alarm on the weather radio went off … the National Weather Service had just issued, would you believe, a tornado warning for our area! Even if a tornado didn’t show, we were certainly in for some heavy weather. Anyway I went out to pull the truck under cover when I noticed … ready for it … the rams were out with the ewes! Yikes. _ _ _ _ ! I yelled to Joanna. She threw on her muck shoes and came out to help. We had to gather every last member of the flock into our nifty little corral, pick out the rams, and then escort them back to their bachelor pasture. The knuckle-heads had busted the bolt which held the chain which held their gate closed! I had just finished chores a half hour or so before this event, so I don’t believe the boys did any damage! But talk about BOTH being out at the same time with ALL of my ewes! Yikes! And, just a month or so BEFORE breeding is supposed to begin! Argh. So … you see … your post describes a totally-expected-though-somewhat-frustrating-day-down-on-the-farm. All of your recent posts, by the way, have been very entertaining … when’s the book coming out? D

    • Did you get the tornado show up? I hope not.

      Those rams! It’s early, but you never know, right?

      I don’t have a ram this season. I am not planning to breed the ewes, though boy am I tempted with these 3 pretty 2-year olds. But I am up to 25 sheep now, 9 Angora Goats, 3 Dairy goats, the two alpacas, the horses, the poultry…I’m afraid if I breed I won’t be able to give good care to all I have here already. (I didn’t mention the numerous cats, dogs, bunnies!) (Oh, and the pig!)

      But I am tempted.

      Yes, it’s always something – last night I thought I was settling in at 8p.m., trying to get some yarn wound for a customer that I need to ship to today, and then folks pulled up to tell me my pony was out on the road. So off I went with a lead rope and a scoop of grain….got her and put her in the paddock with the dairy goats. All the escapees together.

      I hope you got the rams all situated. I bet they are feeling their oats now. I sent off my Thistle to a great farm up north and I just got a nice picture of him the other day – he looks happy. I just don’t have a way of keeping him through the winter, with any ease, and thought I’m farming alone too much to have to look at another season of dancing around the pastures and barn in 3 feet of snow.

      Be well, enjoy this stretch of gorgeous September weather!

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