Utter Nonsense

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I present to you, my husband.

Utter Nonsense

I left for Costa Rica, and my husband went on quests and turned himself into a Legolas (yum) /Gandalf (ummm….) hybrid for the week.  And by quests, I mean taking care of the farm and constructing things (like exceptionally apt signs), and by Legolas/Gandalf hybrid, I mean he did so while carrying a quiver and wearing a wizard’s hat.

(Interesting side note: He took this photo by himself using his skid steer as a tripod.)

This photo pretty much perfectly sums up my life.  Here on the ranch, we live at the intersection of adult responsibilities and utter nonsense.

Just yesterday, someone asked me when I possibly find time to “just relax.”  He was astounded that we both work outside jobs while renovating the house(s) and running the farm.  I sort of laughed because that question has a different answer depending on the day.

On the one hand, sometimes it gets to be a lot, and I really question why I’m not the sort of person who goes to the spa or travels extensively, instead of the sort of person whose horses eat all my spare money in the form of hay…

On the other hand, there is a sort of Zen that comes from cleaning stalls, or grooming horses, or walking my fields.  And very little gives me as much satisfaction as a good training session with one of my critters, or watching the flowers that I plant bloom, or making breakfast with eggs I collected from my own chicken coop the day before.

I mean, really, does life get any better than watching a chicken ride a llama???

Joker and Marilyn
When the coop door blew shut during the day, Miss Marilyn took stock of her options and decided that Joker would make a pleasant roost.
chicken and llama
Joker opened the feed room door to alert Jeremiah that a chicken was roosting on his butt. He required assistance to remove her.

(The llama was less amused than we were…He was very polite to her, but Jeremiah said it was clear he preferred his butt to be chickenless.)

These days, things are greening up, and we are starting to shift focus to a whole new sort of work.  Fences need mending.  Our farm road is in need of repair.  The gardens need weeding.  Shearing is just around the corner for the llamas and alpacas.  New chicks are on order to come in a few weeks.  (Sadly, I’ve lost a few chickens to predators this week…but that’s a different post.)  Horses will be starting back under saddle soon.  And hopefully the ponies will start work towards their eventual jobs as therapy animals this year.  There is so much to do, and we seldom check anything off our to-dos without adding more.  But this place and this work is my “relax.”

Come to think of it though, I wouldn’t say no to a nice massage to wind down from “relaxing”…

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Up before dawn.

I rolled over and checked the clocked at 4:22 am.  My alarm was set to go off at 4:30, but I had been lying in bed awake for some time.   I will never understand why my internal alarm is so “on it” for early mornings, but if I want to get up at 7:30, I had better set an alarm or I absolutely will not wake on time. This time though, I was fortunate.  My phone charger wasn’t connected quite right and the battery had drained down to 6%.  It’s more than likely that the 4:30 alarm wouldn’t have gone off at all.

As I rolled out of bed, I heard a less-than-half awake Jeremiah roll over beside me.

“Wha time ‘sit?”

“It’s about 4:30, love.  Go back to sleep.  I’ve got this.”

“You sure?”

“Yup.  Go back to bed.”

He did so without ceremony, muttering a thank you as he pulled the covers up. Under normal circumstances, Jeremiah is infinitely easier to get out of bed than me, but he had only crawled under the covers after midnight.  The day before, he had been on the road for an obscene number of hours, shoeing horses 5 hours away in Columbia.  He deserved to sleep.

I wandered into the bathroom, trying to keep the doors and the dogs quiet.  Throwing on yesterday’s barn clothes without a sniff check, I dressed quickly and made my way into the kitchen.  Only then did I flip on the lights, punching the power button on my Keurig and waiting for it to warm up.  Lights in the kitchen wouldn’t stir the dogs in their kennels to go outside, and 4:30 am is way too early to even think about bothering the neighbors.

I rustled through the cabinets looking for one of my travel cups only to realize that the only ones still at the house had been half-moved; their lids were at the ranch…somewhere.

I was too tired to care, and for the first time I was thankful that my Keurig doesn’t actually brew enough coffee at once to fill a large travel mug.  The somewhat anemic fill power gave me two inches of buffer between my hot beverage and the likelihood of a spill.

As quietly as I could, I made my way out the front door and into my car.  I turned it on, set the seat heater, and took off toward the ranch.  It was just before 5am.

I know that there are certain people who are always up by 5am; I am not one of them.   I was first introduced to 5am, and earlier, during high school when I would regularly drag myself out of bed in what I considered the middle of the night to compete at a llama show.  L and I would load animals in the dark, grab breakfast at some nondescript interstate McDonald’s, and spend the day fluffing wool, cleaning dirty knees (they always get dirty knees), and prancing our prized pasture poodles in front of judges who often liked them almost as much as we did.  Later, when halter classes were done, Minnett and I would throw grooming to the wind…sort of…and head into performance classes where he would prove that he was just about willing to follow me through fire.  (Don’t worry, there was never actually fire at the shows, but you try convincing an adult male llama to follow you up and down steps (one at a time), under tarps, and into tunnels, and then tell me it isn’t sort of the same thing.)  I always loved showing, even considering it’s early wake up time.

I haven’t been to a show since undergrad, but I have had plenty of cause to wake up at 5am.  Whether catching an early flight for my job or tagging along with my husband on one of his shoeing runs (which almost never start after 6am), I still set my share of 4:30 alarms.  (In an effort towards full disclosure, I really do try hard to avoid anything that makes me get up before 5am…)  Still, this time, I wasn’t up early for any of those things.  This time, I was meeting the vet.

Some of you might remember back in June when I was on vacation with Jeremiah and our stud got out with the girls.  (Ah vacations…)  It was determined that he had probably been out with them for 12 hours or so… I can’t say I know for a fact what he spent his time doing, but I have some very strong suspicions.

I got to the ranch about 20 minutes before the vet, flipped the lights on in a barn, and was greeted with some very sleepy, and very familiar, expressions.  (Llamas have this uncanny way of asking why on earth you would disturb their slumber at such an unholy hour without saying a word.)  Six of our females were shut up in a stall.  In truth, any female in the herd could be pregnant, but those six were the “concerning” ones.  I had two maidens, one that has a hard time keeping weight on, and three with genetic issues.

They watched as I got things set up, pulling the ultrasound out of the tack room and setting it up in the aisle.  I haltered each of the girls, finishing about the time the vet pulled up in his diesel truck.

“Good Morning!” I yelled from across the barn feeling oddly chipper; I sometimes go through that phase when I’m stupid tired.  No way it would last

“Morning.  Thanks for coming out so early.”

I responded with a quick “no problem,” even though I would never have come out this early by choice; our llama vet only makes farm calls before dawn or in an emergency.  I’d take the former over the later any day.

Without much ado, we pulled the girls out of the stall.  By now I should know that it is worthless to try and predict their behavior.  I apologized for one girl in advance; she had been born on the farm but come back as a rescue and could be very scared.  She, of course, was perfect.  I deemed another an “old pro” before we started.  She was the only one of the group to spit.

In quick succession, they were pronounced “not pregnant,” and I breathed a sigh of relief.  For the females with genetic concerns, a pregnancy would have meant a termination, and that is a serious deal for llamas.  The vet explained that the drug could make them hypothermic.  For the other three, it would have meant a lot of fuss and worry, especially come next Spring.

The vet turned off the ultrasound.  I let the girls back outside.  Everything was said and done before dawn.

“Well,” I told myself as I ran through barn chores after he left, “that’s one less thing to worry about.”

In truth, I will still be watching for baby bellies and udders come late May of next year.  The possibility of a pregnant female is still reasonably high (and if there is a cria–cria, by the way, is the proper name for a baby llama or alpaca–next year, I’m still planning to name it Orlando), but all of my high risk girls are happily baby-less right now.

And that, my friends, is one less thing to worry about.