Saturday, February 20, 2010

maude remembers

Maude will always be a little suspicious of me, and rightly so. Ever since the day she first arrived at the farm, we've been at odds. While the other sheep calmly exited the back hatch of the station wagon and walked into their new pen somewhat amicably—Maude nearly choked. Instead of exiting the car and bucking her head like the others, she decided to make a break for it. She soared out of the Subaru, causing her head halter to slip around her neck and tighten. It all happened in a flash and I remember the panic scraping at me like it was yesterday. As soon as her hooves hit Cold Antler dirt she was gasping. She fell to the ground and I raced to her side, instinctually flipping her onto her back (so I could help her without her fighting me) and trying to calm the wide-eyed sheep as I cut off the halter and gently moved her into the pen. Within minutes she was eating grain and batting her eyelashes. She was fine, but I felt awful. That was the only time I ever hurt a sheep. It was a complete accident caused by her panic and a loose halter, but it could have been avoided had I only been more prepared with grain bribery and better restraints. And ever since that day she's distrusted and disliked me. Keeping her distance. Watching me like I was a sheepdog myself.

Sheep remember everything. Anyone who tells you they're stupid, probably never lived with a passive aggressive one.

Weekends here are a mixture of intense work and equally intense relaxation. Mornings are met with chores the weekdays do not allow, and afternoons are dedicated to loftier tasks: like learning a new fiddle tune or writing a chapter of something. Evenings, however, are a little more tricky. If you want some sort of human entertainment out here in the sticks you need to do a little sociological excavating. Vermont is not known for its hip night scene. Hell, Sandgate doesn't even have a bar. The closest is the West Arlington, ten miles down a winding mountain. So, in lieu of being mildly pathetic and going to the movies alone—you hope someone who lives in a town will let you know when something is going down.

I got a call from a friend about a bluegrass band playing in Manchester. I'll probably hop in the shower sometime after dinner and get all gussied up to listen to some upright base and banjo. It'll be nice to be out around people and music, laughing and not thinking about egg eating chickens and mortgage brokers for a while. I look forward to leaning back into a bench with a Guinness and some good company. I'll raise my glass to their health and better fitting halters on future livestock.

6 Comments:

Blogger Toni aka irishlas said...

Guinness and music. That's a great combination for a night out. Enjoy!

February 20, 2010 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Be cautious on your drive home. The Vermont State Police ignore just about everything else, but they sure love to catch people on the road, speeding a bit above the limit, not a full stop at the corner, and.... A Guinness and drive home at night....

Just be cautious about a bunch of things.

February 20, 2010 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Here's hoping Maude remembers the good times and special care too. I used a canvas bag with her picture on it today to haul home some sustainably produced wine today.

February 20, 2010 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Maybe Maude is just the unforgiving type! We just finished a six-day course of antibiotics for our goat, Petunia, and I thought for sure she'd hold a grudge.
But she hasn't - what a good girl. Either she has a short memory, or she really likes us, or she's just plain dumb, lol.

February 20, 2010 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Nearly 30 years ago I joined a new friend and her partner on an expedition to a sheep auction. It was maybe a 2 to 3 hour drive. They found the perfect sheep for them. It was shorn before they took her in their small wagon home. We got home after dark. We were all tired and the sheep was a bit high strung from the long drive. The three of us got out of the car and headed to the back hatch, all in position to grab the sheep when the hatch opened. She was fast and very slippery from the lanolin that had been exposed from the shearing. She slipped through three sets of hands, ran for the street and was immediately hit by a car and killed! I was mortified! I was fairly new to animal husbandry and felt completely responsible. I know it really was no one person's fault but to this day I still feel awful about it! Being true homesteaders they strung her up and gutted her there in the cold, dark night. We all sat in complete silence in their living room for what felt like an eternity. I didn't know what to do. I felt if I left (which I wanted to run like heck!) it would be rude but I certainly wasn't doing anyone any good sitting there. Now I almost daily drive by that house on the way to work. I don't think they still live there. We lost touch many years ago. But every time I drive by I can't help but remember that terrible night. Maybe if we had used a harness we would have been better off.

February 20, 2010 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

I think it's nice you make an effort to find balance between farm life and community life. Sometimes when the weekend is over and I look back over it, I wished I had made time to be social. That's some of the spice of life, and all the regular "chores" are enhanced by it.

February 22, 2010 at 1:06 PM  

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