Sure I love my chickens and my sheep and they're loads of fun, it can still be exhausting to care for them.
A few weeks ago, I was avoiding post hole digging or something of the like, so I went to muck out the sheep shelter instead.
We'd laid hay on the ground previously but the sheep had worn it all down and made a mess, as sheep do, and scattered it all outside their shelter too.
So in I went with the rake and spent longer than I planned raking it into piles so I could scoop it all into a bin for composting.
It might not seem like it, but large amounts of hay are heavy. The 60+ pound hay bales we bought last fall are tough for me to maneuver on my own and since we had at least one bale strewn all over the shelter, the piles made for many of my handfuls into the bin.
The rake I was using probably wasn't the best suited for the job, but lesson learned.
It was cool and I was trying to beat the coming storm, but I certainly worked up a sweat, made more lovely by dust, hay and sheep poop.
Once I hand scooped the hay into the bin, I dragged it out to the fence line, which I imaging was a bit comical since I almost dumped the whole thing while trying to pull the now 60+ pound bin over the lip in the shelter opening.
The sheep had of course run out, confused and annoyed by the disruption, but by then they were happily munching on grass.
We had decided to try wood chips for bedding, so carrying six bags of pine chips that had water in the folds of the plastic wrapping added to my messy state of clothing.
By the time I was done, I was a soggy, filthy mess, covered in dust, wood chips, hay and sheep poop. Lovely.
One the walk back to deal with chickens, it started to rain.
It's always a bit dusty in the chicken barn and well, they poop everywhere, so never go in there without muck boots or ratty sneakers on.
When it's hot, it can get stuffy in there. We have plans for better ventilation for the birds, but mostly for us when we're working in there and being swarmed by birds.
They're mostly polite and docile birds, but they'll peck at anything. I learned the hard way they like shiny things so I don't wear my watch around the birds or they'll go for my hand when I'm filling their feeder or water.
A few weeks ago one of them got me just above my boots and I was wearing shorts. That left a nice, big bruise for awhile. Thanks bird, thanks.
Hauling water to the sheep and chickens isn't so bad, but never do it in work clothes when you're running late, or you'll just get pooped on and have to start all over.
Sometimes, you'll fall in a hole because you're off balance with the water buckets and on the lookout for snakes and not entirely looking where you're going. Of course, every.single.time. I walk back there, I'm on the lookout for snakes. Unless it's winter. It might be -20 and you're carrying a bucket of water into a cuts-to-the-bone wind, but there's no snakes.
Or you'll be lying in the dirt to stabilize a post and crouching in weird positions to staple the fencing to the post. Try as I might, I can't entirely escape fence duty.
Or you'll spend three hours on the tractor and not come close to finishing mowing the field, but be a roasted, dirty mess and a little high on diesel fumes.
Just now I took another bucket of water to the sheep and Little Kitty followed me. Earlier I thought, surely a 10 pound cat won't scare 200+ pound sheep. Nope, they were definitely spooked and I was just praying, to anyone who would listen, that the sheep wouldn't bolt through the fence. It would be harder for them to pull that off now than the last time, but I really, really, really don't want to spend another day searching for a runaway sheep and dragging it home like that last time.
Between a full-time job, getting back into running, serving on some boards and life in general, I'm already a scattered mess, but I think the bloopers of us figuring out this minifarm thing keep me more grounded than anything. Luckily, our livelihoods don't depend on my not-so-green thumb or me learning how to clean, spin and dye that wool right away.
It's a total blast with the farm animals and I wouldn't trade it, but there's nothing glamorous about it. At the end of every day, it's just our life and what we make of it.