Keep Your Desk Job

Here’s how pastures work. Rain falls. Grass grows. Sheep eat grass. Rain falls. Grass regrows. Sheep eat grass. Except this year, not enough rain, so the grass stopped growing. There is nothing left for them to eat.

We have no choice but to feed hay to 100 sheep in the middle of July. Not only is this expensive and totally against the idea of grazing, but it isn’t fun.

We drag ourselves out of bed at 6:30 to beat the 100 degree heat headed our way, then load 25 bales of hay, weighing about 40 pounds apiece, into the pickup truck. We drive up to the north pasture where the sheep are locked into a tree pasture—plenty of shade during these brain-melting days. We distribute the heavy bales, weighing about 40 pounds apiece, throughout the trees, then open each bale and prop the flakes up around the bases of trees. (This might qualify as spoiling our sheep. Please don’t tell this to other shepherds you know.) It’s exhausting work…or maybe I’m just a big baby.

We do this for six days, Did I mention the bales weigh about 40 pounds apiece?

We finally get smart and buy a huge 800 pound bale of hay, thinking we won’t have to carry small bales, but instead distribute the flakes from this big bale in the back of the pickup. Good idea, except the fine hay falls apart so easily we almost can’t use pitchforks. We must gather it up in our arms. We carry armload after armload until there’s enough for the sheep to eat.

We are soaking wet. My jeans are filthy and are dragging on the ground. My hair is stuck to my face and neck. Dry, scratchy hay has worked its way into my shirt, into my bra, into my jeans, into my underwear, into…well, that’s probably enough detail. You get the picture.

Speaking of picture, there’s no photo for this blog entry because seeing Melissa and me sweaty, tired, hot, and covered with hay is no way to start your morning, believe me. So treasure your desk job. Savor the air conditioning, the carpeting, the white walls.

Be glad you don’t have a entire bale of hay in your underwear.

5 thoughts on “

  1. A few more months on mine. Then… bring on the hay!
    Actually, I just bought my very first bale of hay and it’s still sitting in the driveway because I can’t carry it, so maybe it’s just as well I only need it to feed one rabbit.

  2. And I thought it was HOT in Atlanta! Whew. I just discovered your blog. I really enjoyed your book and love learning about farm life (even if it is hot and sticky).

    I recently saw a review of the book in the New York Times Book Review – congratulations!

  3. Nice blog. I too, am a farmer, actually a farm manager- so I get the best of both worlds, air conditioning desk job and hay in my undies. Of course, that means I also get double the work and have a little more insight on both worlds. I will admit I like the air conditioning in the afternoons (esp. since my farm is in the carribean and its ALWAYS 100 degrees) but the mornings are why i love my job- creatures and plants that depend on me and I on them, the smells of the farm- plants transpiring, hay being digested, and the feel of dirt in every orfice prompting your muscles to reminisce about lazy days of childhood.
    Keep those stories coming…you are encouraging people to quit that desk job and live!

  4. A farm in the Caribbean? I have an idea. This winter, maybe January and February, you and I switch farms.

    It’ll give you a chance to cool down a bit (okay, cool down a LOT, since it can drop to -40 in Minnesota some nights) and I’ll get to warm up.

    ‘Course things will fall apart at your farm, since I know nothing about managing a large farm. Still, it’s fun to dream about the Caribbean in the depths of winter.

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