Just What I Needed
Sometimes the farm totally mucks up my day. Sometimes the farm gives me just what I need.
I’ve just finished ten intense days of writing from 5 am until 8 pm, trying to finish a draft of my next nonfiction book. (Writing a book is messy and terrifying because you don’t know what to include, what to leave out, what’s boring, what’s not, what’s confusing, what’s not.) By the end of Day Five, my brain was totally fried and I had to stop. There wasn’t time in my schedule to stop…I had to get back to work, but I just couldn’t.
Instead, I looked out the dining room window and noticed something looked odd in the pasture. The sheep were closer than they should be, and there was LOTS of baa-ing going on. Melissa was asleep, trying to shake a headache, so I slipped on my purple Birkenstock barn boots and tramped out to investigate.
What a mess. Half the flock was where they should be, with water but nothing left to eat. The other half had broken through a fence into the next run up, where they had food but no water. Mamas and babies were separated by an electric fence, and crying for each other. On top of that, two ewes had managed to find their way into a third paddock altogether.
I mentally rubbed my hands together in anticipation. Moving sheep is challenging and fun and if you’re lucky and smart about it, sometimes it goes well. (Sometimes it goes poorly, no matter how lucky and smart you are.)
I found where they’d broken through the fence, so I disconnected the electricity and began trying to get the two main groups together. I managed to get both groups walking alongside each other, separated by a three-wire fence, until we reached an opening at the end of the fence where the two groups could merge. Mamas and babies ran for each other. I locked everyone into the new paddock and brought them a water trough, which they swarmed.
Then I worked on the two ewes—back and forth, back and forth, until I was hot and sweaty and the ewes were unhappy, but I finally got them into the right place. Moving an entire flock is easier than moving one or two sheep.
As I was walking back to the house, Melissa showed up on her 4-wheeler. I was proud to explain everyone was once again in the right place. Melissa was surprised I hadn’t waited for her. I was surprised too.
But then it hit me. Chasing sheep, even though it was 90 degrees out, was exactly what I needed. The activity used different muscles, both body and brain, and gave me instant feedback and satisfaction.
I climbed back up to the house, changed out of my sweaty clothes, ate two banana popsicles, then started writing again.