I drove the sheep to the upper barn two days ago. What drove them was the anticipation of grain. I love grain because they love grain and I can pretty much get them anywhere I want or need with the four wheeler and a bag of ewe and ram pellets. So up from the lower pasture to the upper pasture where I hope the eating will be to their liking.
I have really had to re-think this rotational grazing program. Its a lot more difficult than I had ever anticipated and I see no difference in their overall health. I've had three ewes come down with bottle jaw, (a symptom of barber pole worm). So my thought was to get them on some new pasture that had been grazed by cows the last three years. My second thought was to increase my ability get them in a barn where I can monitor them better and use the shoot to evaluate and treat more frequently if needed. I really am keeping a close eye on the lambs.
Some times I honestly think its more trouble than its worth. The endless hours moving fences, water hoses, shelters, treating sick animals and burying the few that don't make it is such a stressful endeavour. I seriously loose sleep over it and when I finally do sleep I dream about it. But then there are mornings that they all just look so beautiful. Or when I'm witness to the quite afternoon naps curled up next to the hay. Everyone seems so at peace and content.
I have one job and that is to keep everyone alive. To protect them from disease, parasites, coyotes, storms, dogs. Its a tall order. Last count was 132 ewes and lambs. I've lost a few lambs to coyotes and two ewes from barber pole worm. That's not bad I guess but when your trying to make a life from this work it gets to you. I have the ability to criticize my work worse than anyone. Its raw and sensitive I'm terribly hard on myself. I love my work and feel I'm doing everything to my ability but sometimes I just want to bury my head in the sand.
Then there are times like last night my body exhausted and caked with dirt and sweat, earlier in the day I was working in pouring rain wearing head to toe slickers and a black leather outback rain hat. I had been focused and mindful and present and this is where I find myself. This is my work. Its not easy and it drives me to tears at times, but I get to feel everything. Its actually quite a gift to get to do this. and as much stress as this is there are times of profound peace.
I teeter emotionally with the farmer I am and the pieces of city girl that still remain. Both of me fighting the good fight. Its a fight between how things really are and how I want them to be. Sometimes I feel pulled over the edge by one or the other. When I get pulled over by the city girl I feel discontent when I get pulled over by the farmer I feel at home. Why cant this city girl just leave me be?? Why cant she know that things are never going to be perfect that this work is a beautiful struggle and is never finished that real results happen in years not hours or minutes. Why cant she just be satisfied with the truth and listen to the mockingbirds instead of writing lists all the dang time? So its like I'm in a relationship with two different selves trying to make it work. I'm commited, I mean neither one of us is going anywhere so its about giving each other grace.
But tonight the city girl will rule I'll put on nice clothes and lipstick, tie my hair up nice and go into Tulsa to help a friend work her booth at May Fest. The farmer self will get tucked away in my heart temporarily and I'll go all city, probably even have a cocktail. I suppose its really quite schizophrenic.