Now I feel like we are officially home.
We cleaned out the barn this afternoon.
We have house guests, dear friends, Julie and kids from Charlotte, NC. House guests or no, the barn is dirty, missing us for over 2 weeks. I couldn't deal with it and make Christmas dinner, so put it off til today. After over a week of 2 feet of snow, a mysterious flood and many cold animals hanging out in the barn, we had quite a chore.
I have discovered that Thomas is kind of like a diesel engine. 16 years old, he would prefer to read fourteen epic novels, play 24 hours of Monopoly and study 20 semesters of World War II history than to shovel out the barn. The first 20 minutes or so I direct, he moves slowly. Finally, divine inspiration falls. As Julie and I move soaked and sodden straw and manure, standing in water that has flooded the entire middle section of the barn (remember, Ingrid?), Thomas carefully and meticulously moved his shovel.
The other kids did their part, some better than others, but I have rather high expectations for a strong, young man.
Our dear friend picked up the pitchfork to start loading the trailer. So did Thomas.
He continued to work carefully.
Loading manure into a trailer is not careful work. It is hard, use all your muscles, get that job done so we can go back into the warm house work.
I threw down the gauntlet.
As I manned the other pitchfork, I suggested to Thomas that whomever finished with the biggest pile of manure/water-logged straw on the trailer had to buy the loser a big, yummy, fancy chocolate bar. Make mine very dark, studded with nuts and orange peel.
He grinned, hitched up his pants, adjusted his handsome glasses and nice new winter hat, monogrammed by his Aunt Janet and picked up that pitchfork.
The motor started, we both got to work, bantering, laughing, occasionally splatting each other with sludge.
Julie, dear friend, continued to move that manure to us, occasionally assisted by other kids, mostly by herself.
What kind of friend comes for a Christmas visit, brings mountains of presents and food and then SHOVELS MANURE???!!!???
What seemed like an absolutely daunting, impossible task, a flooded barn, 2 weeks of manure and straw, turned into a challenge, an enemy to be conquered.
The mountain became a molehill. Teamwork once again proved to be the ticket to a job well done.
I think we tied.
Thomas thinks his pile is bigger.
Guess I will get Philip to be the judge. Maybe we all need a chocolate bar. Make mine extra dark, nuts and orange peel.
I love my family and friends. But I guess they will love me better if I get my shower and make some supper. Pastured pork chops, spaghetti squash and butternut squash from the garden, green beans from my sister's garden (thanks, Tata!).
Right now some ibuprofen and a glass of red wine. I need something to help these aching muscles after trying to compete with a 16 year old!
By the way, it is great to be home. The sheep are so woolly! They are warm in their winter coats. Philip said that they looked like moving snow mountains after the blizzard! Several of the goats are looking nice and pregnant, especially Nita. She should be due in February. The goats are so fuzzy! Piggies like to bury themselves in the hay and straw. Silly things. Ducks enjoyed bathing in the melted snow today. So cold! Geese, chickens and guineas looked on. I wish they would start laying more eggs. Maybe in a couple of months or so.