Is winter ever going to end? Will it forever be cold, brown, cloudy, and filled with that nagging cough that just won’t stop? Yesterday was overcast with some snow showers; today is cloudy with a chance of rain changing to sleet. Tomorrow and the day after? Same as it ever was, but it will be windy, too. The sheep and goats are so very tired of eating hay and keep meandering around the paddock looking for anything green to nibble. The house dog, part Malamute that she is, wants out, then back in, then out again, and prowls around the house with her stuffed bear, crying and whining. Human tempers are short; we’re run down, cooped up, and wondering if those who “snowbird” in southern states might be on to something. The Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs appear to be the only ones who actually enjoy this cold winter weather. They’re outside romping around, play-fighting, and happy with their life.
Today looked a bit brighter. Literally. I walk out to start the morning chores and am greeted by the sound of baa-ing, which isn’t unusual, but this particular baa-ing was coming from outside the barn. Looking to my left into the barn paddock, I see most of the flock (the goats don’t stray too far from the hay feeder – they are 90% sure that outside the barn is certain death during the winter) sunning themselves. Some are nosing about for grass, but the majority are lying down, contentedly chewing their cud in the sun. As always, when they see me, they all get up, head into the barn, and start eating hay. It’s more like angry-eating, as they give me the side-eye for the lack of green grass.
(If you’ve never seen a sheep angry-eat, it goes something like this: sheep calmly walks up to hay feeder, looks directly at you, rips hay from the feeder with a wrenching motion of their head. Looks directly at you again, chews with as much force as they can muster. This is usually accompanied by a loud, plaintive baa whilst chewing, causing bits of hay to fall out of their mouth. One of my older Shetland ewes manages to narrow her eyes at me during this performance, and she will stamp her foot. It’s rather Oscar-worthy – best dramatic performance. Angry-eating can also occur on green pasture when they’ve eaten all the grass they “like” and I’ve not moved them, so now they have to eat the grass they “don’t like.”)
As I worked through the morning chores, I could feel the slightest bit of warmth on my face, even with the chilly temperatures and slight breeze. The grey of the previous days melted away; spring seemed possible again. We’ve been checking off the “spring is coming” boxes I listed in an earlier post (budding trees and baseball, to name two), but even with those signs, grey days can stifle that optimism.
I went back out to the barn to snap a picture of the sheep (who all stood up and stared at me…sigh), and had to laugh at the Pyrs. They were stretched out on their sides, looking for all the world like rugs, soaking up the sun. As soon as they heard the sheep baa-ing in my general direction, they also had to get up and come over for some love, their fur all warmed up from the bit of heat coming down. I’m glad everyone out there is paying attention, but it makes it hard to get a good picture of them basking!
There will be a good many grey days before we reach “sun season” here in Ohio, and the up and down temperatures we’re currently experiencing won’t help that lingering cough (30* temperature changes wreak havoc on my system), but it’s so nice to see the beasties venturing outside and not huddled around the hay feeders inside. We are all enjoying the warmth while it is here, even with the forecast calling for rain in a couple of days.
View from my desk – blue sky! Sunshine!