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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's a good thing I'm writing things down before we go to bed as I can barely remember what happened by the end of the day, never mind if I waited until tomorrow! Anyway...

Today started at 5 so that I could have a meeting with Caroline, as the time difference for us is really awkward and the cows are rather needy during the hours the two of us are generally awake. It was good to 'see' her!

We headed down to the barn for 7, did the cow chores, which again involved pulling some lambs out of a sheep (oh, and the iffy one from yesterday is OK!) and headed up for our usual oatmeal around 9. We had a few minutes of free time, during which we went down to our bedrooms and promptly passed out for about half an hour until B yelled for us and we went out to the barn to play with the bulls, which is about exactly as fun/terrifying as it sounds like it should be.

Basically, we were supposed to help move eight teenage bulls from the end of the barn where they kind of hang out into another smaller pen on the other end of the (milk) cows. This meant moving them from the big pen, down the shoot between where the girl cows stick their heads to eat, and then into the pen. I was given a small stick and told to guard the whole length of pen A while B and T selected the ones they wanted and literally whacked them until they moved where they were supposed to. We lost a couple down to the wrong end of the barn, including one that decided it would be a great idea to attack the round bale of straw I was on the other side of. At this point in my overtired, slightly panicked stated I started half laughing, half crying, and madly stick waving until B came to my rescue. We did eventually get all but one of the bulls where it was supposed to be going (that one just wouldn't go to the new pen) and I only had to whack a couple of bulls in the head a couple of times, apologising under my breath while willing it not to kill me. At some point, B looked over at me, and said 'don't worry, they won't hurt you.' Uhuh. Likely story.

That excitement done I moved hay around for the cows while C helped with clipping the lambs ears and putting in their ear tags, and then I was sent up to the house to boil potatos for lunch. It was pretty funny as we have yet to be asked if we can, for example, wrangle bulls, handle studs, milk cows, etc., but I was asked with great seriousness if I knew how to boil potatoes before I headed up to the house. Seriously? THAT'S the skill I might not have come to Iceland with?

Anyway...after lunch we played musical ponies and then went for a ride on our own, I took a cute little paint pony, who is only 5 and a bit of a brat, and C rode a cute slightly older mare. We tried to take some ponies, but had limited success, given my prancing pony. Following our tolt, we went down into a field that they either own or lease and took down a bunch of hot wire to use for later in an absolutely biting wind, it was brutal!

Next, it was into the car to drive down to another field and collect more hotwire, and then back into one of the old abandoned houses on the property (what a funny place!!) to get hot wire fencing sticks, which we used to build a two-strand hot wire fence around some grass by the road.

Then it was snack time which was even more chaotic as usual, since we had four extra kids over, taking the snack total up to nine or something like that, even though not everyone was even home! T made some very yummy crepes to go with our usual bread/cheese/buns/milk snack, and then it was back down to do cows. We got sidetracked part way through when T asked us to help her move the ponies from their paddock into the grass field we had made. We had strings of electric to hold up as guides, but really against 15 excited ponies and 100 metres of distance to cover it was a bit futile. Two jumped my strand and headed off to a hill to graze and one jumped C's rope and headed off at a brisk tolt down the road, while the 13 or so who made it into the field took off at a mad assortment of quick gaits to the end of their new paddock, with the loose pony tolting down the road beside them. This was all semi-OK until he decided to jump into the paddock, but didn't really get off the ground, and took our lovely fence down with him as they all sprinted around a bit more. We quickly got their fence back together just in time for Loppa the absolutely gorgeous border collie mum around here to worry that her flock had moved and begin to herd everyone at an efficient and brisk pace back to the gate end of the paddock, which C and T were still building. Some jumping jacks from C and frantic calling from both T and me got the ponies to turn around and Loppa to finally stop nipping at their heels. She's a good herder that one, just a little mis-guided!!

After that exciting diversion, we headed in to milk, which was a little bit annoying as half the cows have their periods or whatever it is cows do, and therefore were being right stroppy, well, cows, as it happens. I did get a bath from Brynya, one of our favourites, who spent the entire time I was cleaning her neighbour giving me a thorough bath, which is all fine till she hits skin, at which point it's a little much--they have very cat-like rough tongues, except really, really big, so it's like a rather unexpected exfoliation!

Dinner of yogurt and fruit after that, and bed soon, yay!

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