The temperatures have dropped, the green grass is gone and replaced with wheaten stalks. Trees and fences are dressed with ice crystals and our breath hangs in the frost heavy air. The ranch hands are decked out with their silk "wild rags" and thick gloves and jackets, while the animals all have an extra layer of thick hair and hopefully, an extra layer of fat to help them work their way through the long winter ahead.
Having gone to California to visit family over the Thanksgiving holiday, it seems winter crept in the backdoor at the ranch. While we were chuckling at unforgettable toddler phrases like "Guess what everybody??? I have to go poop!!!" delivered with gleeful self satisfaction, and causing Randyman to flee to the far end of the house, the temperatures dipped to sub zero with the wind chill bringing it close to minus 20's degree Farenheit. Our ranch family thoughtfully dragged all the goats, sheep, orphan calves and my two Jersey milk cows into the barn under heatlamps. Many animals can withstand the harsh temperatures, but my milk cows are overly thin from feeding calves too long and too well, and the goats...well...they are just sissies.
This of course, means I returned home to a mountain of poop that had to be shoveled out of the barn. If there is one thing cows can do, its produce poop. Lots of it. After shoveling for a couple of hours, my back was painfully suggesting I go lay down for a bit. Knowing that there was no way I would be able to keep Dollymoo cow in for the winter, I found an old horse blanket which fit her perfectly. She had no objections to my putting it on her, indeed, she was as tickled as a teen in her first prom dress, so I led her to her pasture and turned her loose with a ration of hay and grain. I returned to get EmmaLou cow, her yearling heifer, and put her out as well. I turned Emma loose and she went bucking and cavorting across the pasture until she saw Dolly. She came to a screeching halt and began running backwards, as much as a cow is able to. She snorted and spooked and kept turning her head back at Dolly like she just couldn't believe what she was seeing. Dolly had sure enough gotten so cold, she'd turned blue all over. At least that was Emma's perception. It took some time before she dared approach her mother in that dark blue frock. Once resigned to the fact it was still Dolly, she attempted to wipe the outfit off of her with her tongue, to no avail.
I brought the sheep and goats back to the house and bedded down their shelters with straw, and checked on the 'polar bears'. ( the 2 Maremma puppies, now 8 months old and over 100 lb) They are for sure fluffier than when we left, probably because of the cold. The snow doesn't seem to affect them at all.
|"Visions of grandeur in his sleep"|
Apparently, Cider did not sleep well in California.
So, instead I resumed making soap and reminisced about our family visit, and the loved ones we had to leave behind until next trip.