Last year, we suffered from an excess of rain. Days upon days upon days upon end, it rained. When it wasn't raining, it was hailing or tornadoing or otherwise forcing dreary weather upon us without much respite.
One of the local farmers contributed his father's wisdom: "A dry year, you worry. A wet year, you starve." After last year, we understood. Our garden performed subpar and we had trouble getting hay because the farmers couldn't get onto the fields to cut and dry it. Our pastures, though, were rich and lush with grass and we had more than the sheep could keep up with, so at least they were fat and sassy going into the winter.
Not so this year, at least not so far. Our fields are crispy dry brown, with barely anything for the sheep to graze. We have offered them the last of our winter hay, but they have turned their noses up -- they weren't too enthusiastic about it even over the winter, see less than perfect haying conditions explained above -- prefering to nibble at the last little nubbins of grass. Rotating sheep through the pastures to give the grass a break is out of the question; there just isn't enough out there. Now our constant worry, thanks to the lack of rotation and close-to-the-ground grazing, is intestinal worms in their sheepy guts. One of our 4-H families just lost a ram to them; it is one of those sneaky afflictions that we need to be extra vigilant about this year.
But then today: Hallelujah! The skies opened up. To give you an idea how bad our pastures were BR (Before Rain), take a look at the brown area in the photo below...
It seemed like the very earth and grasses and trees were breathing a sigh of relief. I know that I was.
All it took was the boys going to camp. No matter what the weather conditions, it invariably rains as soon as they go to spend a week out in the wilderness. I am very sorry, thinking of their doubtlessly soggy butts tonight, but I can't help but be grateful at the same time for their selfless sacrifice.