Twenty Below

It’s very cold again this morning. Yesterday it was so windy and bitter — stinging snow whipping sideways — that I left the animals in while I drove down to Albany again. I will want to turn them out today willy-nilly.

My truck is frozen and dead. I think I must have left the door ajar when I left for the city. Mike says he will jump it for me first thing.

Meanwhile, Rick, my hay man, suddenly emailed in the middle of the night that he would arrive with more hay before breakfast. Tra la!

For the past week, with ever-shifting schedules and ever-changing weather, I have been patching life together on the fly. DH has left on a business trip at 3 AM and forgotten his wallet? I’ll drive an hour to meet him at the side of the road before dawn. Oh, the barn door has been blown half off its rocker and I have no time to repair it? How about I shove a wood block under it. Oh, can’t do chores until 9 PM? I’ll just muck the stalls into the barn aisle. The water hydrant is frozen solid? I’ll douse it with buckets of water from the trough.

It has all worked but the resulting disarray, both in the barn and in my mind, has been considerable. I need to get back on track, clear out the clutter, fix the barn doors, and accomplish some other important tasks.

1) I need to muck the deep bedding out of the sheep stall. The stall is a foot deep in old hay, compressed by the ewes’ weight into a giant, damp, woven mattress. This is customary with sheep, but unless I want the girls trotting around near the barn ceiling, I need to dig it out and start fresh before lambing season. I have put off this task, hoping that the torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder would heal. It hasn’t. The job has to be done anyway.

2) I need to worm the sheep again. With the strange fluctuating weather this fall, I am worried about parasites.

3) I need to vaccinate the sheep with CD-T, which will protect them and their lambs against enterotoxemia and tetanus. My first lambs are due in less than a month and to confer passive immunity, the mothers need this shot two to four weeks before lambing.

4) I need to burn Opie’s horns and also decide if I will castrate him — “steer” him, in the vernacular; remove his testicles to make him a steer. Both of these things cause some pain and trauma, of course, and I haven’t wanted to stress his infant nervous system during this period of dangerous cold. But I need to make up my mind and do one or both very soon, before it’s too late.

After I get the hay in the barn today, I’m hoping things will settle down so I can catch up, get more organized, and tackle this list.

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