Notes From The Barnyard, Spreading Manure While The Animals Graze

Lori up front, with Constance, Asher, Merricat and Kim behind her.

I let the sheep out to graze and fifteen minutes later they come back in the barn.  The sun is hot and they’re not used to it yet.

They stand in the shade of the barn, heads hanging down, or sit  breathing heavily. I can see their stomachs moving with their breath.

I’m spreading manure from the winters pile around the barnyard.  I scrape the top of the pile, underneath it’s heavy and wet from all the rain.  But the top layer has already dried in the sun.  It’s light enough so that when I throw a shovelful on to the grass, it flies in an arch, like one of those grass seed spreaders people use on their lawns.  It scatters the same way when it lands.

Now Robin gets up and slowly leaves the barn.  Constance follows him, and lets out a baa which he answers. Merricat is next, then in a rush the rest of the sheep get up and they all run out to the pasture together.

The grazing donkeys flick their tails and ears.   The sheep twitch their ears and shake their heads.  The bugs are out with the sun.

Fate sits in the shade hopeful that I’ll tell her to “get the sheep” and Zinnia pokes around the manure, wet from a swim in the pond.

The three hens  peck around the barnyard, keeping a short distance between them in an invisible triangle.  Heads down, tail up.  Their movements jerky and constant.

They start paying attention to where I throw the manure.  It’s filled with thick reddish brown earth worms.  I watch as Kitty Anne pulls a worm up from a clump of manure in a single smooth movement.  She waists no time swallowing it then plucks another and moves on.

I think how good those worms are for the soil and know they are good for the chickens too.

I spread more manure and notice the arrival of butterflies.  A yellow and black Swallowtail, one small white butterfly that could easily be a couple of petals from the apple tree, a pale green butterfly the same size as the white one.

I stop when the sheep come back.

I grab a couple of alfalfa treats from the barn and call to Fanny and Lulu.  They come in from the pasture too, slowly chew their treats, then head for the barn.


Lulu and Fanny

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