The sheep don't seem to mind at all. Matilda was sitting outside the barn this morning when I got up and checked on
them from my bedroom window first thing, as I do every morning. They were quite happy to go out into their shoveled paths in the pasture where I put their hay. The water pail in the barn had frost inside the edges but the heater kept the girls' water nice and ice-free.
-- poor dears! Last night I put a ceramic heater in the coop as well as their usual heat lamp, but their water was frozen solid by morning anyway. Still, the ladies popped out 10 eggs early this morning! This breed -- the Yellow Comet -- seems to keep right on laying through winter. Most egg-laying breeds either stop altogether or lay less when the weather gets cold and the days are shorter. Not here, though: Last week I took 5 dozen eggs to the hardware store on our Main Street, where Laura and Nancy (Satch), the owners, sell local eggs at no profit
to themselves. What they pay me, they charge their customers. That is Ashfield for you, and some wonderful women that make this tiny village what it is.
Today is going go up to 19F. (whooopie!) I am debating whether I should get myself out there and wrap bubble wrap around the walls of the chicken coop as I had planned to do, for a little winter protection. It is cozy here in my living room with the wood stove going. North Pole outside. And the chickens are in it. It is the right thing to do. Thing is, without any outside labor, my body feels "crunched" somehow as well, and stiff. I probably felt that way all the time when I was in corporate life and in front of a computer all day. It must have been the "normal" way of things so I only noticed when my body was really crying out in pain. The baseline discomfort just went unnoticed.
There is a beautiful, simple prayer for happiness from the
Upanishads that I often recite (a bit paraphrased):
"May All be well.
May All be happy.
May All be healthy.
May None need learn through suffering.
May our earth be fertile;
May our waters be clear;
May our air sparkle.
May our animals be healthy.
May our crops be plentiful.
And may we long greet the sun."
I offer it now to all people who work and toil in ways that dry up their spirit and make their bodies stagnant. May we make work a nourishment for the human body and soul. That, I think, would go a long way toward healing the earth. Truly, what we do to ourselves is the mirror image of what we do to Earth, and vice versa.