snowy sheepy wintery days

snowy sheepy wintery days

Reports of 15 below and more in Vermont this morning, fresh dumping of powder from yesterday’s storm which followed Friday’s storm which followed last Tuesday’s storm, so, plenty of snow.

It’s beautiful. The sun is shining today, the sky is blue. The air is full of crystals and with a slight stir in the air, you feel like you’re part of a live snowglobe.

I think about the days of holding a crystalline globe and being captivated, wondering about the magic of how they existed. It never occurred to me that the snowscapes within were less than what I beheld, and when my own children were younger, a friend helped them construct their own with babyfood jars, water, plastic toys, glitter & glue. Somehow, to me, it was akin to telling them that there wasn’t a Santa Claus.

The water doesn’t work in the main aisle of the barn and I’m filling all of the buckets the hard way by loading them into the deep sink in the tap room, turning on the small faucet and waiting. There are a lot of things to do in and around waiting for the buckets to fill, like emptying frozen buckets outside, filling grain bowls, sprinkling kelp meal on the individual dishes, divvying flakes of hay…and it’s a perfectly timed operation as too long and your buckets will be overflowing, too short and you have to stay and idly wait out the filling-operation.

The options are considerably more troublesome – I have no idea why the hydrant quit, but it might have something to do with sub-zero weather. I hesitate to contact any plumber because of the expense and the expanse of the project. Running a hose is out of the question with freezing temps making it impractical. Not complaining. Just a little concerned.

Just think…in the old days I would’ve had to hike to the well.

I cuddled one of my hens for quite some time out in the coop this morning. Her comb is more prominent and she is one of 6 White Leghorns that are quite strong producers. I have been selling eggs to the local hospital through an outreach/grant assisted local organization. It’s a good feeling supplying local, organic eggs to the community. I value my little hen.

Something’s up with her today, she didn’t want to join in the feeding frenzy when I loaded up their hopper this a.m.. So I cuddled her. I think she needs a small wool hat for her large comb. I’d bring her in the house for a warm up, and I might still, but I like to allow for them to figure it out on their own sometimes. They don’t (the animals) all benefit from moving into the house to convalesce even though humans might think so. It can be stressful for them to leave their group/home. So I’ll check on her this evening to see if she’s coming around.

I loaded up a few wheelbarrows full of frozen manure which I was able to pry/scrape out of one of the horse stalls and wheeled it out back. Parts of the job were easy. Getting the stall clean was much more delightful than pushing the barrow out to the manure pile. And in fact, I couldn’t make it all the way through the deep snow, across the culvert and to our old heap. I felt like a failure when I had to stop short of the manure mountain and dump it, making a new pile.

It’s not really a problem, just a temporary set-back. I’ll relocate the manure when things loosen up, soften up, melt. That time will be here before you know it. May is only 3 months away.

I thought the sheep would enjoy their hay more if I spread it out in the field under the sunshine. They have been sharing closer quarters since the snow is so deep and there’ve been a lot of shenanigans because of the cabin-fever. They were happy to trek out and have their own small-group hay-clatches vs. crowding around one or two hay racks.

After most of the flock relocated, I went into their paddock to organize their feed troughs, check their buckets, fix the door that keeps getting stuck in the frost…Custer & Mocha were hanging out. Custer, the Shetland ram, was there to keep an eye on Mocha, our Cotswold-cross that has bottom-feeder tendencies. I love that girl. She’s got the same opportunities as anyone to eat her grain out of the troughs, but it’s her instinct/preference to go around and search out little bits in the snow or in the corners. I had kept her with a small group for awhile when I thought it might allow her the chance to gain some weight, not have to compete for food. She still kept her old habits though she had all she could want from bowls or troughs. So there she was, missing out on the sunshine-y hay breakfast while she played clean-up in the paddock, Custer waiting for her to finish so he could go out with the others.

I like to talk to myself while I’m working. And to the animals. I’m great at pep talks. Today I turned myself around in about 45 minutes. I grumbled for about 15, rebounded and then waxed philosophically for the other 30. That allowed for another hour of jokes and songs, which the animals really appreciated. I’m in my own private snowglobe. No amount of griping is going to bring me down and stop me from enjoying the glitter.

Viktor E. Frankl was an existentialist, physician, therapist, and prisoner of the Holocaust who lived to 92.  He left us with an impressive legacy of therapy and research, and some of the most meaningful of his readings I have come across were constructed after his Nazi-imprisonment.  I recommend, if you are looking for inspiration, to learn more about his work, and also, I leave you with this one chosen quote:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”





12 responses to “Snowglobe

  1. fantastic to read, you are incredible good to turn these experiences in waiting for a bucket to fill and to get them overfilled into beautiful prose, I can almost feel it in my body as I read it, although I’m sitting inside our warm house, heated by good firewood, stay warm, I’m sure insulated overalls works fine now 🙂

    • Thank you, Niels. Yes, I have the good fortune to come into a warm and bright home, too, and write about it all! And it takes less time to warm up with those insulated overalls keeping me warm out there. Have a wonderful week!

  2. I love this post and your snowglobe metaphor. So true, that we often so captivated by a snowglobe but fail to notice when we are living in one. I also talk and sing to the animals during chore time. Glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

    Also, I’m mighty jealous of this thing you call a tap room. I’m in my first year of farming, and I still have to haul water the hard way–from my kitchen tap! Maybe next year I’ll have the funds to repair the broken hand pump in the barn. . . . Even dreamier would be automated waterers in all the pens!

    • Oh, I meant “Tack Room!” That is where the horses’ tack is kept, along with the grain bins in the wintertime. And there’s a sink in there (so it could be a tap-room!) Yes, things certainly could be worse, and better, for all of us, right?!

      Thank you so much – the animals are such a forgiving audience, aren’ they? It’s neat that you like to share with yours, too. And I’m so grateful to you for taking the time to comment. Be well, Jessica!

  3. Hang in there Farmer. I know it’s tough and that it’s very easy to feel, at times, like the forces of nature are against you. Something which suggests that is the case happens to me nearly every day. You’ve got lots of four-legged creatures who depend on you. The sun will shine tomorrow and all will be well … I promise. As far as that hydrant goes. If the thing is frozen it’s because it’s not draining properly when shut off. When the thing is closed the plunger way down there is supposed to sit tightly against, and shut off, the inflow of water. Shutting the thing off also opens a drain hole to allow the water in the pipe to drain out. Over time that rubber seal can become a bit worn and the plunger has to be adjusted down so that the seal is tight and water doesn’t drip UP into the pipe (when it’s supposed to be off). None of this is going to help you get the thing thawed .. but here’s a trick. When the water is running again … take a large cup out with you .. run the faucet and fill the cup … when the cup is full … shut the faucet and then put the full cup of water up against the orifice of the spigot … if everything is working … the thing should suck water out of the cup as the pipe drains. If the level of water in the cup doesn’t fall … you need to adjust your plunger DOWN. There are are two nuts that allow you to do this. As far as thawing the thing goes … have you considered heat tape? Here’s a link to other possible solutions …

    • Oh I can’t wait to try that test! How cool! It’s been running funny for a long time now, you have to stop the crank of the hydrant at just the right spot so it doesn’t drip or run, if you shut it all the way off, you might as well have it all the way on! So I bet it did have a certain level of inflow. And I like the looks of that link you dropped in there. I love learning these things, of course the hard way, and I know so much more now that I’ve had so many animals & kids mouths to feed over the years. And it’s true, the weather does make things like moving wheelbarrows harder, but I get a lot of joy out of each day -I’m counting my blessings that everyone is healthy. That hen that was down in the dumps earlier was right as rain when I went out this evening! Hope you and Joanna are doing fine – how much snow do you have? We’re getting MORE tomorrow! 😀

      Thanks for the comments, D, I really appreciate your visits.

    • Oh thank you, Tim! I hope you’re feeling better – what a stupid long stint in the hospital…I’ll get that webcam going in March or April – it’s got to be warmer out there or everything will literally freeze!!!! 🙂 LOTS of babies this year!

  4. Just adore this post, Tammy. It echoes many of my own thoughts this time of year, but of course you are dealing with things on a much larger scale… and I admire you for it: the work you do, the care you give everyone, the good humor you show, the appreciation for it all even when it’s frustrating and cold and hard, and the beautiful way you share it all here on your blog. xo

    • Thank you, Rebecca! Seeing this so late! 🙂 You are my buddy! And my cheese mentor!

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