The evening sun angles to the west as I finish dumping the last 50-pound bag of feed into the tall round feeders.
The lambs crowd around, nibbling the corn and chewing on my shorts.
Lambs do that. Chew on things. Everything a toddler does, they do.
After climbing out of the pen, I check the time. Good. A half an hour before dinner. Enough time to get a short run in. I reach down, tighten my shoelaces, tuck my thick, canvas work gloves into the waistband of my shorts and check to make sure my GPS is working.
Good to go.
And … then I set off at a walk up the winding driveway towards the back fields.
See, I would like to start running immediately — but the ewe lambs in the neighboring pasture think that means I’m planning to feed them and sprint after me. Believe me, I’ve learned my lesson.
Once I reach the curve at the top of the hill, I start running. My worn-out running shoes beat a rhythm over the dusty ground.
Funny how the weather can change on a dime sometimes. Just over a month ago, you couldn’t buy a dry day. Now, there are drought conditions.
Stop to unchain a gate. Listen to the creak as it opens and shuts. Latch the chain again.
Farm life rule numero uno: Always, ALWAYS shut the gate.
The back fields are green, the forage short after hay had been taken off. Round bales sit scattered throughout. I follow the fence line east. As I navigate the occasional hillock and groundhog hole, I keep an eye on the fence, watching for telltale signs of critter crossings.
I backtrack once or twice when I see thin trails crushing the grass and crossing the fence line.
Hey, a journalist/sheep farmer/runner has to multi-task.
Speaking of multi-tasking, as I round the back 40 (literally) and crest the ridgeline, I notice something that shouldn’t be there.
These ewes are not supposed to be in the hay fields. And they know it. The minute they see me, they start slinking down the hill toward the woods, in the direction of the pasture where they should be.
I jog slowly after them. Blasted sheep, I think as I duck under a low-hanging branch and swerve to avoid a patch of stinging nettles.
They clatter their way through the woods, and then, instead of waiting for me to open the gate (ungrateful wretches), they shoulder right through the eight-strand electric fence.
For the love …
And then I look closer. Ah, that’s why they didn’t hesitate. A strand of wire had ripped off its moorings and straggled limply on the ground.
For the LOVE …
I pull my work gloves out of my shorts waistband and tug them on. My hands safely encased, I pick up the wire and begin checking its tension, looking for the break. There it is. Cripes. It’s more than a simple fix.
With a sigh, I make the wire is snugged next to the fence and turn toward the house. Time to call in the big guns (read: my mom, fence-fixing extraordinaire).
I could also tell you about that time I started running and got sidetracked by a ewe with a new lamb. I decided to leave my GPS on to see how far I would go.
Hence, a running map that looks like this. Apparently, it is possible for a GPS to cry, “Uncle!”
Yes, that line is razor straight. No, I didn’t actually do that — oh, and what you can’t see is that it ends up in a lake. Oh, GPS.
Just another day in the life.