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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I got up around 5 today to work, which was productive but exhausting, and I could really have done with crawling back into bed and not down to the cows, at 7, especially given how cold and windy it's been today. The snow line is probably only 40 metres above us right now and the forecast is for disgusting weather tonight and tomorrow. One can only hope it will be disgusting enough to keep us indoors, where we might get to bake. It's a long shot, but...

Anyway, morning chores were fairly typical except for the discovery of the lamb in lamb's clothing. We noticed a little lamb who looked like it's skin was several sizes too big and when we asked T what had happened to the poor thing she was like 'I don't think you want to know' but Cecilia pressed her for it and we found out that the little lamb is wearing the skin of another lamb that died. The momma sheep lost both her babies and at a farm down the road this lamb lost its mommy, so they skinned one of the dead sheep from our farm and put it on like a coat around the little live lamb so that the momma sheep here will accept it. It's gross and cute all at the same time. Though we were saying it actually didn't really phase us at all, which it probably would have 2 weeks ago.

After breakfast, we headed back down to do the 'shitty' job, which we started last week--using planks to create a mucky slurry of cow crap to wash down the channels into the deeper pit. We spent a couple of hours doing that while T used the tractor to muck out the young bull pit, removing the 2 feet of crap they've been standing in in several massive loads. While she was scraping and moving, Cecilia was on bull control duty but they didn't want to leave too badly, apparently, so she didn't have to whack anyone on the head. T also used the tractor to muck out the horses's stalls, which is certainly one way to do it!

For lunch we had 'slauuter,' which is basically a meat/fat meatloaf/sausage like product, made from lamb. At B's family lunch we had it's cousin made with blood. Anyway, I'm not a massive fan, but they make a lovely sweet milk gravy, and combined with mashed potatos and enough gravy and the hunger of two hours of shit slurry-ing, one can quite happily eat anything!

After lunch we quite guiltily enjoyed a five minute break and then headed back out to do more of the crap moving as well as milk machine cleaning and floor scrubbing in the barn's office. The milk machine was interesting--it's an automatic feeder for the calves, who are weaned from their mothers immediately and then fed milk from a bucket until they are a few days old and then are moved into the pen with the other babies and the sheep and lambs. In that pen, they can walk up to an automatic feeder and suck down some milk. We were cleaning that part of the machinery and discovered that inside, the small metal panel that pushes the milk around in a circle is making butter in there. Bizarre.

At 4, thorouhly bored even though we'd been listening to podcasts, we abandoned our planks and headed up to the house for snack, which was way better than normal because T, who is clearly super-woman, was pulling out two loaves of home made coffee cake/bread and also whipping up a big batch of crepes to go with our typical bread/cheese/crackers/cookies/milk snack. It's hilarious the things that two weeks ago would have phased us, which are totally normal now: getting sent down to the barn to get milk from the massive holding tank (if this goes wrong it would be 5-1500L of milk on the floor), youngest trying to eat the entire block of cheese, second-youngest chewing a pen until he exploded it over himself and then poked it in the butter, kids running away with knives (only a cause for concern if it's not a butter knife), toasting their chocolate-covered digestives, licking the top of a tin can etc. At the barn it's nuts too--standing on ponies, crawling around cows, drinking sheep water out of the bucket...I make it sound like they're neglected kids, but they aren't--they're just allowed to run around and be crazy kids. And the parents are so busy there isn't too much time for anything different, anyway.

Night chores were late, because of the epic snack, but generally went well until right at the very end when second-oldest managed to hurt herself (we have no idea how, but maybe using the hay as a gymnastics mat was a silly idea) and had to be taken to hospital by her parents, leaving us to feed the kids and put them to bed, which they were actually fairly happy to do.

I'm exhausted so basically counting down the minutes until bed. I wish cows granted snow days!

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