Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzards and sunsets

When the storm is finally over and the last snow flake has fluttered through the air, I let out the breath I have been holding since 11pm the night before when the ice started to fall from the sky with snaps of white lightning and thunder. I woke up this morning to at least 9 inches of snow and drifts up past my knee. Most of the day has been spent making sure the animals are alright. The sheep and llamas seem perfectly content. I worry most about the milk goats. They are not as hearty as sheep. They are my babies and I worry about them getting wet and then getting cold.

By late morning the snow had already covered my treks out to the chicken coup and the sheep pasture from earlier in the morning for chore time, and I honestly couldn’t measure the depth because there were so many deep drifts there was just no way to know how much snow had actually fallen. Mostly I walked through snow up to my knee. Cold hard fast wind made it impossible to see very far and I realized my own limits carrying a half of bail of alfalfa out to the sheep. I had only walked 100 feet and I became hungry and worn out. My legs felt so heavy. My face mostly covered in scarves and a red Hawaiian patterned bandana was cold and my eyes watered hard. I just wanted to get back inside drink another cup of coffee. I even became severely annoyed with myself for not having that third cup before going out. surly that would have helped! I gave my inner self…. “the look” Damn me!

The wind was blowing the snow so hard and fast it was pushing tiny white particles through every little crevice and opening in the barn that seemed somehow to rejoin and form big snowflakes again covering everyone and the barn floor with snow. I worried. We plugged up all the openings we could find with a staple gun and old feed bags and still microscopic snow particles rushed in and left dusting on walls and our heads. In spite of this, when dropped down to my knees, removed my gloved hands and placed them on the bellies and faces of the goats they felt very warm and seemed to be doing quite well. They ate big mouthfuls of hay. I listened to them chew. When they were finished they huddled together in a dry corner and then laid down together chewing their cud.

Exhausted from shoveling and feeding I came inside made a cup of peppermint tea brought it to bed with me, laid down and fell asleep for an hour or so. When I awoke the bedroom was aglow with the blinding light of the sun reflecting of the snow. The sun! The blizzard had stopped! I put my gear back on and trudged through the snow drifts back to the goats. They were sunbathing, eyes closed and happily moaning. I sat down with them in the barn, brushed off tiny ice balls off their backs. Touched noses, nuzzled necks and stroked the fat pregnant bellies of my darlings. One chicken was stuck in a snow drift so I brought her inside and put her in a laundry basket with a heat pad. A few minutes later she was on my desk pecking at dust particles. Out she went with the others and I began a new list for tomorrow which began with ‘clean the office’. Everyone made it, we survived the blizzard.

A promising sunset brought us out finally with camera in hand. Evening chores were just a matter of looking for ewes that may have lambed. All was well. Walking back to the house we talked about how grateful we were that as far as we could tell we were doing all right. We looked at the handy work of feed bags stapled to the outside of the barn rafters that prevented blowing snow from coming in. Linda says “I like to refer to those as prayer flags”. Strangely, they resembled just that. We laughed at the irony but the meaning was profound.

Back inside we prepared a dinner of fresh baked bread, parsnip and potato mash and slow roasted chicken we had raised and slaughtered ourselves and ate with silent awe. Tonight the temps will drop to below freezing. All of the outside dogs and cats come in, we might not get any sleep but we both agreed we don’t care. As long as our people are safe all is well on the farm.

3 comments:

krista said...

What a rich day--emotionally, physically, gastronomically.
Keep those animals warm!
Krista W.

krista said...

What a rich day--emotionally, physically, gastronomically.
Keep those animals warm!

nanc said...

Inquiring minds want to know--how'd it go with all of the outside dogs and cats in the house?