I was watching the distant ewe and deciding wether to set my alarm for 2AM or 3AM when I noticed the doe in the forest. About 60 yards away a beautiful, thick, shiny doe walked through the snow. I noticed her because deer and hawks are something I make note to watch these days and she was swerving between trees and coming in my direction. I kept leaning on the gate and watching. My only movement was the sipping on my drink.
I watched the doe come closer. She knew that good green hay was where the sheep were. From her comfort level and the flocks' nonchalance I assumed she was a regular. She came closer and closer until she had leapt two fences and was a few feet from the sheep. She was about 10 yards from myself. I just watched. I let out a silent prayer I didn't have a cell phone with me or something else to film the interaction of doe, ewes, and confused newborn lamb. I had hard cider and whiskey and a tired body. These are objects of observation not documentation.
Had I a bow I would be eating venison loin right now. That close.
The doe stuck around just long enough for Brick, my newest mother, to send her packing. The mother stomped and hollered, making it clear that the freeloader wasn't welcome. The doe leapt the fence and was on her way. Sal and Joseph (two older wethers) ambled over to me and started nuzzling my drink. I poured some into my palm to let them taste and both enjoyed a sup. Holy Crow, do I ever love sheep. They are calm, productive, grow sweaters, make lamb chops, and enjoy a libation from time to time. Bless them.
It was a warm day here. Really warm. Almost 35 degrees and the sun was shining. I was here watching deer and sheep drama because I had finished evening chores, had just walked 1.6 miles with the dogs. Gibson and Annie were inside eating their kibble and Italics was in his mews eating a pheasant that had been killed by a barn cat at Common Sense Farm. They offered it to me as hawk food and I took it. I could hear the bells on his ankles ring as he tore into the carcass. He went out hunting with me four times this week and deserved a day to just sit in the sun and gorge.
As for me? I was finished with a day of outdoor work. It all started with a shovel and pick axe. I knew if it was going to be so warm and bright I would want to ride or drive Merlin. (by the way, if any of you are new to homesteading or horses, here is a tip: Do NOT casually say at a dinner party that "After such a long winter - I can't wait to feel a horse between my legs" because people take that the wrong way) But to do that, to free Merlin from the paddock, I knew I needed to get the gate dug out from a pile of ice and snow. So I started with axe and shovel, a good 20 minutes of brute force. I realized quickly that this was stupid and got some baling twine and wire cutters instead. I opened a new door in the fence and lead Merlin to the hitching post.
At the post I carried Harness, driving bridle, and lines. I check and picked feet, groomed, and evaluated Merlin. My prediction: a fast and bumpy ride. He had not been worked in months and was used to snow wrestling with Jasper. It took 15 minutes to get him in halter and lead and another 15 to get him on the cart. We headed down the mountain roads at a slow walk.
All went well. Until we turned around. Once he realized he was heading back to snow and hay after just 3/4 a mile he wanted to run. I don't know if you have ever tried to hold back a horse who wanted to bolt in cart, but it isn't fun. I made him walk, whoa, turn in circles, and wait until he was calm. We ended up not just getting home but trotting right past it to get more sweaty up the mountain. It was a good (if unsettling) first session in the cart but I was just happy to be back in the drivers seat. Few things feel as natural and real as driving a horse cart down a mountain road. It was a little affirmation to be back. It felt wonderful.
So here is how I will end this Sunday's Post. I had a grand day. I traveled 2.6 miles on foot and by horse cart. I had tea with friends. I got hay and hit on by the glowing Nelson Greene. I felt the weight of horse collar and harness on my shoulders. I fed a red tailed hawk a feline-murdered pheasant, and felt sunshine and true warmth on my body. I prayed. I sang. I played the tin whistle. I brushed mane and picked hooves. I docked a lamb's tail and hugged a kind dog. I held Gibson close to me and whispered (The following is phonetic, not correct Scots' Gaelic) "Moe Kree, Moe Tie, Moe Koo:" which means "My heart, my home, my dog" and kissed his black forehead. I harnessed a horse. I watched my sheep badmouth a rogue hind. I drank beautiful warm things and wrote this to share it with you. I hope you leave a comment. I thrive off you folks.
I am grateful for these longer days. I am grateful for the new workshops to come and the people I will meet. I am thrilled to milk a goat, tune my fiddle, string my bow and welcome this Equinox. Things are good here. I hope they are good for you as well. If they aren't then I suggest downloading the Name of the Wind on audiobook and Ok Computer as soon as possible. Those things and a little hard cider, bourbon - they add perspective. They are good. Good as any old leather draft harness and blackface lambs. Hold them close, unless you are a fool.
Oh, and remember to look up. You never look up.