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Monday, February 2, 2009

Eau de Ewe

Monday morning, 6:30 am. The alarm goes off. Darn. I had planned to get up earlier this morning. I have four teenaged girls to compete with for the bathroom. I missed my turn. I throw on a bathrobe and head downstairs, in search of coffee for the Farmer and green tea for me. Suddenly I hear the bathroom door open. I take the stairs two at a time and claim the shower.
It wasn’t until I emerged from the bathroom that I realized I probably should have gone to the barn first. Now I had to make sure I didn’t get dirty while feeding the sheep. That shouldn’t be too difficult, right?
Normally I dress in my office clothes and protect them with a layer of snow pants and barn jacket. But a quick trip out to the porch verified that such a wardrobe choice would have me sweating in no time. I opted for my jeans and hooded sweatshirt instead, realizing too late that they were probably dirty enough to reverse any of the freshening effects of my shower.
Out in the barn, I lifted my leg up over the gate and hauled myself into the pen. I had to squat down to balance one of the wee lambs on my lap while I coaxed her to take a sip from the bottle of warm milk. Her mother promptly backed up into us, her wooly and muddy behind brushing my cheek. Yech.
I topped up a few more of the lambs, and crawled back out of the pen. Milk had dribbled up my arm as the lambs nursed, soaking my sleeve. Next, I gathered up the plastic buckets and started dishing out the corn. The sound of the kernels hitting the pails got the ewes awfully excited, and they started a rowdy chorus so that I wouldn’t forget any of them.
The ewe in the back pen put her front hooves up on the gate and attempted to launch herself into the aisle to get the corn. Bossy wasn’t willing to wait. Worried that she might trample one of her lambs, I decided to serve her first. As soon as I lowered the bucket down to her head, however, she reared up and bucked it out of my hands, spraying corn across the room. Aaargh. I decided she could wait until the more pleasant and placid customers had been served.
When the corn had been all nibbled up, I had to retrieve the buckets, lest a lamb get himself stuck in one of them. Sometimes I have to use a shepherd’s crook to gather up the buckets, and other times I have to actually climb back into the pen. This morning the crook was nowhere to be found, and Bossy’s bucket was just out of my reach. I balanced myself on top of the pen gate and teetered there, reaching as far as I could toward the bucket. I swear Bossy was looking me in the eye as she gently hoofed it out of my reach. I lost my balance and fell headfirst into the pen, where the stout ewe and two of her lambs promptly stepped on my hands, pushing them into the manure. I had taken my gloves off for added manual dexterity. Bad decision.
As I forked hay and lifted it over my head, I could feel some of the dust settling into my freshly-washed hair. Lovely. It was too warm for my hood, which normally protects my coiffure. Despite my efforts to comb it out, I would go to work looking as though I had been doing drywall.
On the way out of the barn, Donkey hip-checked me so that he might inspect the bucket of water I was carrying to the sheepdog, thus filling one of my rubber boots. Meeting the Farmer on his way out to feed in the other side of the barn, I handed him the pitchfork and planted a kiss on his cheek. I’m pretty sure he sniffed in my direction as I passed him. The man has the nose of a hound dog.
Back in the house, I stole a quick glance at the clock. I had 5 minutes to get ready if I was going to get the girls to school on time. I stumbled upstairs to scrub my hands and change into an outfit that might meet the dress code for my office.
The Farmer and I ran into the Mayor and his wife at one of our favourite lunch spots, Caicco’s Italian bistro. Mrs. Mayor said, “I didn’t recognize you without a lamb in your arms.”
It’s a good thing I wasn’t standing too close. I might not have been holding a lamb but I’m pretty sure I smelled like one.

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