As an Iowan, I expect to get some snow in the winter. I expect to have long, miserable, bone-chilling winters. I expect to have to break ice out of waterers, scoop and salt the walk, and wear Muck boots everywhere if I don’t want wet cold feet.
But this year is different.
Usually we will get just a little bit of snow before Christmas. Everything else comes after. This year, it isn’t even December yet and we’ve already had two good snows. The last one dumped a couple feet in some areas and with all the wind, left huge drifts that you could lose a man into.
I’M NOT READY FOR THIS! I love summer and almost everything that comes with it (Except the bugs. They can die.).You can just imagine me as Olaf from Frozen singing his “I love Summer” hit. I live for sunshine. And moving freely without feeling like a sausage stuffed into bibs and coats and boots and extra socks… Oh and the hat hair! No one likes hat hair!
And snow isn’t even the worst part of winter. It’s the ice. And what happens after the snow melts a little bit. It turns to slush which turns to slop. It’s going to be a long drawn out cycle of frozen, then slush and slop, and freezing again until spring.
Okay, so I’ve made it abundantly clear that I hate winter, right? And now I’m going to completely contradict myself and tell you that it is my favorite time of year. Everything I said above is true, I despise winter weather. But this time of year is a very special time on our farm. Winter is lambing season for us.
This means no vacations (or even many activities away from the farm), late night checks every single night, getting all bundled up just to trek through the snow to the barn and check every single ewe before coming back inside for a few hours just to do it all over again. It means adding hours on to how long chores take because we need to hay, grain, water, and bed down each ewe that has given birth in her own separate pen. And helping pull lambs if the ewe needs help, late night vet calls when something isn’t going right, bringing lambs into the house to bottle feed when their mother can’t or if they get too cold. It even means losing some lambs. This is an inevitable part of farming. One that no one looks forward to.
I’m sure most of you are thinking, “Geez, that sounds exhausting! That doesn’t sound like fun…” And maybe I’m just wired different than most. But I never have to force myself to go do late night lamb checks. I never think that maybe we should just give it up and move in town. I never think of how much more money we’d have if it wasn’t for the farm. Every night at midnight when I have to go put on my coat and boots, I’m excited. Giddy even. I just can’t wait to go see if we have more lambs. I never get tired of witnessing the magic of birth.
I wasn’t born into this life. I grew up with horses, not sheep. But perhaps it was in my DNA somewhere all along. I wasn’t born on a farm. But I was born a farmer.