This morning was a bit of a mess around the farm. We had a pretty severe storm pop-up directly over the farm (it was good fun to watch on radar). However, with the one and half inches of rain and hail, we got mud. A lot of mud. Ankle-deep, boot-sucking, stinking, manure-filled mud. I knew that it was going to be a mess out there, so I rolled my jeans up (I still have to wear them to work after all) and pulled-on my mud boots and went and did morning chores.
Morning chores can vary a little depending on the weather and what all is going on, but generally they run something like this: Feed the cats, fill-up sheep water, check hay or grass that the sheep are eating, let the chickens out of the coop, check chicken feeders, and do a general welfare check. This all takes me around twenty minutes to do on a typical day.
This morning I was letting the chickens out of the coop and I checked under it to see if there were any sheep down there. It’s a popular birthing spot and I hadn’t seen Charlotte yet that morning. Sure enough, she’s under there but I don’t spot a lamb, so I figure that she’s probably just getting close and had chosen her spot. I then go over the fence and into the chicken coop to check their feed. While I am above her, I hear the unmistakable bah of a newborn lamb. So I go back outside and look from another spot. There was an empty protein tub that had gotten shoved under the hen house by the sheep by Charlotte. I hadn’t been too concerned about it as it’s an empty tub. Outside of a chicken flipping it over onto itself, it’s not going to hurt anyone and it’s way under the chicken coop. In the darkness under the coop, with a black tub, I can just see a twitching of motion and hear another tiny little bah, and it’s coming from inside this damn tub.
So first I try to shove it out from under the hen house using a long handled tool, but it was too far under. Charlotte is obviously distressed by her lamb being “trapped” in this low-sided tub and the lamb clearly wants to be out with mama as well. Charlotte is a first-time mama, so I don’t want to freak her out any more than I have to. So I know what I am going to have to do.
I go back to the house, grab a couple of dog towels (that’s what we call bath towels that have been down-graded from everyday use to more…. aromatic messes) and a damp washcloth and head back out to the coop. I then did what any shepherd worth their crook would do.
I took off my pants.
Yes, you read that right. My forty year-old self was running around with a t-shirt, panties, and mud boots on. I still needed to go to work that day and I needed clean pants to do so.
I hung the jeans from the fence and carefully climbed back over the it into the sheep yard and stepped into a bouillabaisse composed of fetid water, mud, uneaten hay, with sheep turds floating on top like festive marshmallows in a cup of cocoa .
I got down on my knees and, for lack of a better description, did a very tall army crawl under the chicken coop. So, I’m sure that you all have excellent imaginations, so I will spare you too detailed of a description of this endeavor other than to say that had anyone been around at that particular moment, they would have had quite the view of my faded undies and me in a spectacularly unladylike pose. Once under the coop, it’s a lot drier than around it, and I quickly crawl to the trapped lamb and get it out, checking for sex and that it’s healthy. (It’s a ewe, photos later, there’s no way I was taking my phone on this adventure). The lamb goes over to her mama and starts nursing happily while I scoot the damn tub out from under the coop. I then have to go back out through the same offensive barnyard broth as before, only this time with my face down almost in it. It’s actually a little worse coming out from under the coop as both hands are now wrist deep in it along with my knees. I carefully stand up (I really don’t want to fall into it) and toss the cursed tub over the fence. As I am trying to ineffectually wipe this stinky stew off myself, it quickly becomes obvious that washcloth/towel combo isn’t going to cut it as the fetid water had already run down my legs into my socks and just wasn’t coming off very well with the washcloth. So I get the worst of it off, pick up the remaining towels and my jeans, and start walking through the sheep pen back up to the house still pants-less.
The sheep, thinking that my jeans and the towels were a treat for them, start following me in my walk of shame, bellowing their displeasure that I wasn’t giving these wonderful jeans and towels to them to eat. Herbert even goes as far as trying to steal a towel from my grasp, only to realize that it isn’t a yummy, and drops it. By the time I am at the far gate, I have the entire flock of sheep behind me like a bizarre and very loud parade, drawing as much attention as could possibly be drawn to me in that moment. Even the lambs are getting in on the action, dancing around the adult sheep, giving little choruses of bahs, not really knowing why they are doing it, just happy to be included in the party. Finally I leave the relative safety of the pen after carefully checking for cars coming down our gravel road. Thankfully, we can literally see people coming for at least a half mile in both directions, so I wasn’t too fussed as I walked across the farmyard holding a folded towel in front of me.
My dad takes this moment to come out of the house and simply asks me, “Did you get it?” as I had told him what I was doing when I had retrieved the towels earlier. “Yep, ” I replied as I went into the house so that I could shower off my legs and arms, and change socks.
But I wore the damn jeans to work.