I put all the horse sheddings in a bird feeder and the blackbirds plunder it to build their nests. The birds know when it's spring too.
Today it was the sheeps' turn. Their winter grazing on Milkweed is looking tired, and Tractor Dave is coming to roll and feed the grass so it was time to move the sheep. While they're gathered up, it's a good time to worm them and trim their feet, and generally give them a good once over.
With no outbuilding and ten acres for loose sheep to cavort about avoiding capture, I had to fashion a pen and entice them into it. A bucket of barley was enough to get them to ignore the open horse trailer and walk into the pen
I just picked up the trailer from its service, and I was worried that the truck wouldn't pull it when it was full of sheep. The clutch is so bad on the truck that every night I have to reverse up our sloping driveway, because it won't hold in first gear.
After digging the garden yesterday, and wrestling the trailer this morning, fetching all the metal hurdles was tiring. I can feel my wrists and elbows complaining. I worry that my joints are getting worn out. I try to carry more than my upper body strength allows and I think of those bodies from Pompeii. Archaeologists were able to discern slaves' bones from the scarring at the insertions of the muscles. These scars were most prominent on the arms of young girls. And I've got twenty years on them.
God, even my bones are lower class.
By the time I'd caught and treated the first two lambs, I had to surrender. I called Mike and Underkeeper Pete for assistance, and maybe some moral support. My gloves were ripped, I'd broken my makeshift worming syringe, and my hands were shaking from muscle fatigue. When the work gets physically hard, just some company, someone to hand you the can of antibacterial foot spray, takes the pressure off.
With help, I finished the sheep ablutions in an hour. Their feet were desperately overgrown so I've made a note to trim feet more often, my joints be damned.
The truck pulled the loaded trailer. I began to relax a bit and enjoy the few miles between Milkweed and their new field.
No gloves = purple hands. That will take a few days to wear off
I used what was left of my clutch to pull the trailer up the dirt track to the field. The sheep dribbled out and sampled their new forage. My bones are due a day's rest now, or until the sheep shearer comes.
Hayley (our farrier) and I were discussing joints and bones when she visited. Hayley trained for years, and worked as an apprentice blacksmith. Now she has her own business and a mobile forge in the back of her truck. She "hot shoes" horses, heating a basic horseshoe in a forge and shaping it on an anvil to fit the horse's foot exactly.
She's a good fifteen years younger than me but she's already doing her best to conserve her joints. If clients want their horses shod, but the horse doesn't actually need shoes, Hayley tells them she's not prepared to do it. "I only have a certain number of shoes in me. Every pair I fit takes its toll on my body, and I need to work for as long as possible. If they only need a trim, that's what they're going to get."
Outdoor physical work has long been undervalued. There should be a premium paid if you are earning a living at the expense of your body. In most cases, these are jobs that someone else is paying you to do because they are not strong enough to do it, or the work is too hard for them to even contemplate. But there's a stigma associated with people who labor, outside laborers particularly. Hayley labors, but she is a business woman and an artisan. I use my back to grow plants and raise chickens, but I also use my knowledge of soil science, plant biology, and animal husbandry. My brain isn't wearing out, at least not as fast as my skeleton.
Mike is also wearing out, though the accident caused a great leap in his demise, and some side effects. Quincy the puppy is teething and tries to use anything or anyone as a chew toy. I saw the puppy playing on Mike's lap, writhing about and chewing his shirt sleeve. Then I saw blood. Mike doesn't have much feeling in his right arm and he didn't notice the puppy had chewed a hole in his skin. I cleaned it up and it's healing fine. Wearing out on the inside is one thing, being devoured from the outside is another.