This past winter has been cold and somewhat snowy. For the past 2 weeks, it’s been snowing every day! Sometimes just several inches of snow, a couple times an actual snowstorm of 12 +/- inches, and most days just what’s referred to as snow squalls leaving us a good dusting. The dustings are nice. It makes all the yuckiness look so clean, like fresh vanilla frosting spread out over a just baked cake.
The alpacas have hardly left the barn. They don’t really enjoy standing or cushing in cold, wet snow. Sometimes one or two of them will come out and look around and ponder what to do, what to do, for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll see one or two eating snow. Usually a few are just cushed in the little doorway, the rest cushed behind the tarps. The northwest corner of the barn has been blown bare of snow by the winds and most mornings Cavalier, aka Big Bear, will be cushed out there on the frozen dirt. He always seems to enjoy the solitude more than the others do.
Yesterday spring seems to have suddenly arrived! The sky is perfectly blue, barely a breeze, and the beautiful sun is so warm on my face. Reflecting off the snow, the sun almost blinds me. The sun is melting the huge piles snow. Snow is melting off the roof, pouring down like in a rainstorm, and there are large, deep muddy puddles all up and down our dirt driveway and our little road to the barn.
I walk down to the barn through mud, standing water, and crunchy snow, carefully pulling the 2-wheeler behind me which holds today’s bale of hay. I’m trying hard not to splash dirty water onto the bale. The pacas hear me at the gate. One by one they file out of the barn, casually walking up to the fenceline where the snow is still fairly clean, knowing that I’ll lay down the 2-wheeler there. The fresh bale of hay is an easy distraction. Without them in the barn, I can clean up in there quickly.
The paddock area is a disgusting mess, as it usually is during mud season. The snow is melting, melting, melting. There’s so much snow remaining that there’s no place for it to go as it melts. The large puddles in the paddock are looking like a small pond. And this pond is a dark, muddy, poop-filled, poopy-water type pond. Yuck is not the word for it! It’s really not a pretty sight. I’m just so glad that we graded the paddock well enough that the water no longer ends up in the barn. Apparently we’ll need to do more grading this summer. Spring is approaching so for now I’ll have to patiently wait as the ground thaws a little bit more each day and absorbs all this water.
I was standing in the barn today, looking over into the paddock at the poo-pond and listening to the alpacas quietly chewing hay. I stood there pondering farm life. Farming really gets you in tune with the changes of the seasons, adapting to the weather cycles, and very much aware of the habits of birds, insects, and wild animals that share your little place on this planet. Farming really makes you connected to the Earth. Being connected to the Earth is a good thing, another simple joy.
So I stood there, looking around at my muddy paddock, listening to melting snow pour off the barn roof, and watched my alpacas with very dirty knees and legs eating hay. And I thought: hhmmm, anyone considering starting a farm and saw this type of mess would most likely think twice about it, and run!