Spring: The busiest time of year

kansas prairie

It happens every spring. The best laid plans dashed by unpredictable weather, equipment malfunctions, illness or most likely all three. But really, the truth behind why spring always gets crazy when you are working on a ranch or farm, is that there’s more to do than can be done.

Every year, we must go through the charade that our chore list is doable, and every year we discover it is impossible, but that we must do it anyway.

This year has been no different. Exhibit A: I was supposed to film a new episode of Perkins County Almanac last weekend, but instead I took care of two sick kids while also trying to take care of three orphan lambs while also checking the new little flock every few hours to see if anyone was ready to have a baby. Oh, and then there was the small matter of preparing for the baby chicks that were coming to us in the mail midweek. Needless to say by Monday I was exhausted and coming down with the same illness as everyone else in the house.

Now it’s Friday again. I couldn’t sleep last night because I couldn’t stop coughing. The kids are still coughing, too, and so is my husband. We’d all be easy to find in the dark. The chicks are here and peeping their fuzzy heads off. And the flock that I was worried would never start lambing (it was three days after their ‘due date’ before the first baby was born) ended up having six sets of twins in a row.

Waiting for overdue lambs to arrive was frustrating, but the subsequent abundance came with its own set of challenges. The barn at our new place is small. We divided the space into three pens with a slightly larger area in the middle to give moms and brand new babies their own “rooms,” while the ewes that hadn’t lambed yet could also come in out of the elements if the weather turned treacherous. There are only nine ewes in this bunch (the rest of the flock is back at the ranch and doesn’t start lambing until May) so this set up seemed reasonable.

The fact that we had four ewes go into labor in less than 36 hours foiled this particular plan. The next 48 hours brought two more sets of twins. Suddenly there were babies everywhere. Fortunately, these ewes are very conscientious and have been keeping good track of their lambs despite being hustled out of the “maternity ward” more quickly than I would have preferred.

Meanwhile, the seed potatoes are growing long tendrils in the closet, the tomato seedlings are so leggy they look like they are about to walk themselves into the next size of pots, and that episode still hasn’t been filmed. I won’t even list the other chores that have fallen by the wayside because I have, thankfully, blocked them from my mind.

But, it is all worth it! More than worth it. I still can’t believe I get to be a sheep midwife. That I get to watch seeds spring forth from the soil–seeds I harvested myself last fall. That we get to watch chicks sprout feathers and learn to fly. One of my best friends just used up all her frequent flier miles to take herself on a solo weekend trip to Dublin. “It’s crazy, I know,” she said. “But I feel like I have to do something like this to show myself it’s doable. It’s doable because I just did it.”

So, maybe I will get that episode filmed tomorrow. (I’d really like to get that episode filmed tomorrow!) Maybe we will get the potatoes in the ground. We will definitely be setting up some new fencing so we can move a few of the mamas and babies out onto fresh grass. And, I really and truly will enjoy every minute of it. It’s the busiest time of year, but it is also the best time.

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