This week I have been reading in Ecclesiastes.
Funny how a chapter I read in Candide, by Voltaire, seemed to echo my Bible readings.
When I am not quite so tired, remind me to do a compare and contrast.
BUt for now, a time and a season for everything.
Today was the time to start the work on the barn.
I began my day asking God to make me smarter than I am. Seems like every task on this farm is a giant-sized task and I am not giant-sized. Almost every section of our barn had standing water. Giant lagoons of water. Mosquito larvae infested water. Mixed with mud and manure. And straw. Very heavy mud and straw and manure muck.
Patrick and I retrenched the lower section, aiming to let some of the water drain out. I shoveled and shoveled heavy muck onto the concrete floor and Thomas loaded it onto the wheelbarrow and carted it to the muck pile. Patrick used a sledge hammer to break up a section of the concrete pad to open up a pathway for the drainage. We must have moved a couple of tons. Or more.
Then we moved up to the upper section of the barn. The inner suite of stalls in the middle has standing water. The upper area where the sheep like to camp out had a section pretty much the length of the barn, and 4 to 5 feet wide of puddles and muck. At least 5 or 6 inches deep.
As we moved out the sloppy lagoon, I thought of victims of major floods. I said a little prayer for them. Such a hard work reclaiming a place after a flood.
Didn't take long before I was covered in manure and muck splashes. It got on my glasses. On my face. In my hair and in my mouth. I asked Patrick if he thought I would end up in the hospital after consuming so many germs. At that point, I was so tired and sore I thought I might enjoy a brief hospital stay. I could watch tv, maybe catch the food network, have a/c and plenty of time for a nap.
In the middle of the shoveling and carting, I heard a wee little baaa. It sounded too little for our last crop of lambs. Setting down the shovel, I walked over to the far back stall. The only dry spot in the barn. There, behind the little family of teenager hatched out chickies was Annie. And two little newborn lambs!!!
I picked them up, one by one, to investigate. Very healthy. Not todays' babies, perhaps born yesterday morning. One little girl and a little boy. Annie was so proud of them. Both perfect little Jacob specimens. Boy, that Boaz is quite the father.
The sweet moment was over very quickly. Emptying the lagoon was even more urgent, as little babies are terribly susceptible to wet and germs and parasites in the heat.
As we worked, I tried to figure out the problem and why the barn was flooding so terribly. Many people have shared their opinions, but for some reason I felt like the gutter system was at fault. The roof of our very large barn captures hundreds and thousands of gallons of water. Seemed like something in the system was not working as it had. We had never had such flooding in the upper section of the barn.
Patrick informed me that during some construction project out at the barn the drain pipe for the gutter had been damaged and since I didn't know about it, it was never replaced. When walking around to inspect the gutter on the north side, I found that part of it had gotten detached from the roof. We also discovered that the minimal leak from the roof seam had become a very large leak, due to weakened patch. We also found that one of the other big drain pipes for the rain runoff had become blocked.
Before I was finished, but right about the time I was worn out, it was time to take Thomas to town for an appointment. We then ran to Lowes to purchase some drain pipe to make a temporary rerouting for the gutter downspouts. A friend helped to nail the gutter back up to the roof. We also purchased patching materials for the barn roof.
Farming is a scary task for me because of the size of the problems. Sometimes they loom so large, I want to stick my head under the covers and hope that they will disappear. Since they don't tend to do that, I was thankful for the opportunity to take a little bite out of the problems. Tomorrow we will attack again. We may discover that I was way off and that we haven't found the solution. But at least we will know that we tried, and then we can try again.
And in the meantime, all this exercise is making me stronger. And I bet I have the best immune system in the valley, thanks to all the probiotics. And having to strategize to figure out solutions to our problems is HOPEFULLY making all of us smarter.
By the way, Patrick took a break for the barn work to butcher his turtle this afternoon. He and Thomas used teamwork. The white meat is in a bag in the fridge, soaking in milk. It looks remarkably like chicken. Guess we will find out tomorrow. I think we will fry it. Keep you posted. If it is good, I will give you a recipe. One turtle in the fridge means one less menace to our duck flock.