No Rest for the Wicked

I like to use this blog to highlight farm activities that go well.  Things that go smoothly.  I’m going to take a moment to talk about how farm life can shut down completely.

On Friday, I went to our end-of-the-year celebration for Fat Toad Farm, my employer.  We drove an hour to a pizza place (not the closest…the closest one is a mere 40 minutes from our house) and enjoyed a really fun dinner together.  I hadn’t done the evening sheep chores yet, but I knew they’d be okay as long as I went to see them after the meal.  On the way home, I wasn’t feeling very well at all.  We made it home and I fed the sheep down at the barn and the two at my house, feeling even worse.  I got back to the house, lay down on the couch, and promptly descended into a 24 hour stomach flu.  I was up all night, and soon enough it was time to do sheep chores again.  I remember calling Jake and Priscilla to ask if they’d feed my sheep while they were feeding their own, and I think Jaska or Andrew might have fed the sheep at my house.  I slept much of the day, though I vaguely recall running low on wood and hoping Andrew would come home and bring some in before I froze.  Jaska had left early on Saturday an was gone for the whole weekend.

Sheep and Pickle Farm's Farmhouse
Add a large metal bowl to this setup and you’ve got the idea of how I spent my weekend.

Saturday evening, I staggered pitiably down the stairs with a small offering of water for the two sheep at my house.  I had suspected that their water had been frozen for some time, and sure enough it was.  I felt very badly that they had been out of water and that I had been unable to care for them in my haze.  I didn’t go to my main flock.  By Sunday morning I was able to get up but still unable to eat much.  Did I mention we had a blizzard?  It snowed a foot between Saturday night and Sunday.  When I tentatively opened the front door to venture down to the sheep on Sunday, a wall of snow greeted me.  So with zero energy, I started to shovel.  Fortunately, the light and fluffy snow yielded to my efforts and getting from my door to the truck was a cardiovascular rather than a muscular exercise.  Thank goodness for four-wheel drive- I just backed the truck right out of the driveway without shoveling at all!

Down at the main barn, 100 yards of snow between the driveway and the barn door awaited me.  I shoveled a little path to the sheep, resting regularly along the way.  I made every effort to appreciate the beauty of the silent landscape while I heaved to catch my breath.  I’m really in better shape than that – it was the lack of calories talking.  I finally reached the sheep.   They looked confused to see their shepherd, usually so happy to see them and smiley, instead leaning on a shovel and squeezing “Hi, sheep!” between deep breaths.

Sheep and Pickle Farm Natural Colored Wool
It felt like I had shoveled for a quarter mile or so…

The sheep were out of hay and out of water, too.  I apologized profusely to them as I refilled their food and water.  Finally, the sheep were settled, and I went home and sat down for a good long while.   Why didn’t I ask/let Jake or Priscilla do the shoveling?  Well, they have several decades and a few notable health concerns on me, so I really, really didn’t want to enlist them in the shoveling effort.  After all, the point of having my sheep in this barn is so that I can take care of their sheep, not so they can take care of mine.

Sheep and Pickle Farm Natural Colored Wool
Agnes gets a little scratch on the head

In any case, I survived, and perhaps even benefited. For the first time since Friday I was actually hungry enough to eat more than a piece of toast.  I ate a somewhat-normal sort of lunch that day (not just broth and toast), which in turn allowed for a nearly normal dinner.  Though I won’t be eating pizza until I’m over the trauma of this experience, I think I’ll be back to eating food normally today.  And the sheep will be back to eating normally, too.