Thursday, February 11, 2010

snow clearing

One of the great things about working out of your home is the commute. One of the not-so-great things is trying to clear the parking lot before office hours start so patients can get in. We gave up at 8 pm last night... and my LSH and the boys were at it again early this morning. I left them to their task and headed to the back to feed the animals.


My first step off the driveway and I realized that I wasn't in for a pleasant stroll through the crisp new fallen snow this morning. Nope, I was wishing for snow shoes the instant I punched through the rock-hard top layer and felt the snow come over the top of my winter chore boots, which are 16 inches high. Working my way through that much snow became very hard work before I had gone ten feet.


I was hoping the dog would help me out this morning, but he was having just as much trouble as I, if not more so, as the snow was above the bottom of his belly.


He quickly allowed me to take the lead and followed along at my heels. That's OK, I reasoned, because when I got to the sheep pen, at least they would help me out by clearing a path for me from the shed to the gate. A very narrow path, but a path nonetheless.


I climbed over the gate (impossible to open this morning without shoveling first!), located the feed pans (the photo above illustrates the art of finding a feed pan in the snow; can you see it?), emptied out the snow and refilled them with grain and...


Nothing. The ewes stood just inside the shed, looking at me, but refusing to take one step into the snow. I rattled the grain pans and bucket, I called them, but no dice. Swearing under my breath and getting colder by the minute, I gave up and hiked to the shed to give them their hay. At least they would have a path broken for their tender little hooves.

But still nothing. They looked at me, wondering why I hadn't just carried the grain up to them since I was coming that way anyway... I felt sorry for them and their pregnant bellies... and I led them back to the food. Animals at my heels was the theme of the morning.


I figured I had better clear a path for them to the watering trough while I was at it as they obviously hadn't been in some time. (The bucket is the black speck all the way in the top corner of the pasture; yesterday's path to the bucket is faintly visible.)


If you are thinking right about now that we are torturing pregnant sheep by making them walk all that way for food and water, forcing encouraging them move around is actually much better for them and their unborn lambs. For whatever reason, there are many fewer abnormal birth presentations when ewes get exercise while they are pregnant. I will do anything to avoid abnormal presentations, including breaking paths in the snow for wimpy sheep.

I know the sheep would have made their way to the water eventually, because it seems nothing is thirstier than a pregnant ewe, but I had to check the water level anyway. It was a little low, and I started to despair about hauling water through all that snow, but then it dawned on me that Mother Nature had supplied plenty of water right around the tub, albeit in crystalized form. I killed two birds with one stone: cleared more ground for the sheep and filled the trough to the brim, leaving the rest of the task up to the water heater.


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