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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow-Sheep Convergence with Dog

Well, I need to dust off the blog that's for sure. I never have been good at keeping any kind of diary. Too bad.

We're in the midst of a rather amazing snow event. So far I have almost a foot with two foot and better drifts. Somewhere in there, a few inches down, is a 3/4 layer of ice. Very pretty, but not nearly as much fun when you have to deal with livestock. Yesterday, as I crunched my way to the barn to feed the sheep, they panicked at the unfamiliar sound (sheep really like to panic for some reason). Bounding from the barn to escape the noisy monster approaching, they hit the new ice, which of course panicked them further. Sliding, floundering, and bounding, they made it across the pasture and out into the field about 1/4 mile away where they huddled together, terrified to set foot on the slippery ground. Sigh. That's 1/4 mile from shelter, hay, grain, and warm water. So I dutifully, good sheep keeper than I am, broke a nice path out to them. Think I could get 'em to use it? Grain didn't work. Shouting and waving my arms behind them didn't work. So I slogged back to the barn and returned with some hay. To tide them over. When you get thirsty come in, I told them. It wasn't windy, wasn't snowing, I figured they'd be fine in the dry, powdery snow until they got over their fright.

Ha. I totally underestimated the stubborn fear response of sheep.

Fast forward to three PM. Freezing rain/snow is forecast for the night, the east wind is picking up, they have no water out there and it's 20 F. Time for the big guns. So I tap Annie, who is hopefully recovered enough from her knee surgery that she can work sheep without damaging herself. And frankly, I had run out of other options, short of managing to warm up the terrain and melt all the snow. And all my mental efforts to shift the arctic high to the eastward and let in our nice, warm, wet Pacific weather had failed miserably. So. Back to the Big Guns. Or Gun rather.

Annie was SO up for the task. Sheep are usually so EASY. You give them an 'I want to eat you' look and they run where you want 'em to go. Not this time. She stared, she snapped, she barked. The sheep weren't going to go back in her direction but they did NOT want to go forward. I poked, prodded, whacked hocks with a switch and Annie kept 'em from bolting past me to the safety of their trampled snow. Foot by foot, yard by yard, we made the very slow trek back to the barn. A ewe would bound forward, slip, and break through the ice. The flock would inch forward. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. But we made it. They're in the barn, they have a shoveled path to the heated water tank, they have a bale of hay in the manger, and I'm not going to go near them until I figure they need more hay! Whew! Bless Annie (who seems no worse for wear this morning). I couldn't have gotten them in without her.


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