Friday, April 3, 2009

April showers bring...mud

Mud and muck, more appropriately.  Spring means a lot of great things 'round here - tree frogs singing as the evening light dwindles.  New lambs.  Our young willow shooting out pussywillows and then fuzzy green buds.  Spring break when our young ones get to sleep in and go to the zoo.  But, most quintessentially spring means mud.  Lots and lots of mud. 

There's regular, everyday Pacific NW mud, which in general is ubiquitous but shallow and comprised mostly of your everyday dirt + water.  And then there's farm mud.  Very different animal - in fact, different precisely because of the animals in the equation.  It is amazing how destructive 4 feet X however many animals can be.  

Our sheep have a fairly large permanent pasture, and we try to rotate them onto temporary pasture as much as we can.  But, the area in front of their shed is, what's the technical term?  Gross.  Truly disgusting.  Awful.  It is a small area, but, obviously, it's one they use a lot and this time of year we sink mid-calf into the putrid mess trying to get to the stalls to tend to mamas and babies.  Blech.  There's a sort of "Cover me Jim!  I'm going in!" feeling as you struggle to wrench your foot from the sucking mire with each step.  All our sheep are brown up to their knees.  Nice.

We were relatively lucky this year.  The snow and cold meant hard ground, rather than our usual muck that can begin as early as November.  We really didn't have to contend with this goo until March this time.  Not only is it nicer for all, it helps with hoof health and, a real bonus, keeps the parasites down.  Nothing like below freezing temps to kill off those nasty intestinal bugs.  Not that you could tell, looking at our skinny sheep.

So, it's been a campaign to fatten up our ladies over here.  Scoops and scoops of grain, the very best hay, and praying those hens just keep on laying the eggs our neighbors love to buy.  Come on gals - you're subsidizing the ladies.  Hunker down and lay, lay, lay.  

April showers bring us this yucky mud, but they also bring forth spring's first babies, brightly colored petals along roadsides and in gardens, and the weekly communal fest of our island farmers market.  It brings clear starry nights, like tonight, and the celebrated sunny weekend or two, which just about breaks the To-Do List bank.  In April, we keep our tall rubber boots close and our gratitude closer.  The balmy eves of summer are just over the horizon.

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