I remember the little ram-boy now with a mix of love and bitter-sweet nostalgia. After the first few days, the grief gentled a little bit every day until it was no longer a claw that would just uncurl and rip me to shreds inside. It became a heaviness, then a pulse, then a smile. I watch him in my mind's eye now as he runs around chasing the girls as he used to do, and I kiss him in my mind with a smile of love and bittersweet nostalgia. I wonder if this feeling will always be with me, or if one day it will simply be a smile of love and appreciation for
the sweetness he brought to my life.
The ground is covered with snow now - knee-deep where the sheep's pasture is. This would have been Coffee's first snow if he had lived. The girls love to go out into the snow and eat their hay there. That is good exercise for them. In fact, you keep their water and hay a distance from each other so that they need to walk back and forth. Exercise is important, especially if they are pregnant.
Neither ewe came back into heat after their last breeding at the end of November, so there is a good chance that we will have our first lamb crop next April.
The work of the farm in winter is about keeping the animals fed and watered, keeping things from freezing and keeping
paths open. I make a fire in the woodstove in my living room first thing in the morning, and while the fire gets going I pull on boots and a couple of layers of jackets, go out to give the sheep their breakfast of hay. Every day I shovel a path further out into the pasture and put hay there, because I want to cover the ground with hay during winter. After the sheep have gone through it, the hay is just a thin layer. It will gradually decompose into the soil and drop the forage seeds that are still in it; it will all go toward rebuilding the soil. I want to have shoveled the pasture in a grid pattern over the next few
weeks, with "hay stations" where the two lines cross.
After the sheep are done, the chickens get a morning snack of sunflower seeds (the oil in the seeds help them keep their body temperature up). I check everybody's water to make sure there is enough and it is not frozen. Then it is my turn: I come back in and have my coffee. Hearing the wood pop and burn in the woodstove, knowing that my animals are out there with plenty to eat, holding the mug of coffee in my hand, even cleaning up the snow and hay mess that I inveriably track into the house, life feels right. As it is meant to be.