"In the Bleak Midwinter...



...frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone..."

So goes a verse of one of my favorite Christmas hymns. Today I was living that verse. For the third or fourth day, I've been going out to the pasture 2-3 times a day to break ice in the critters' water buckets, and make sure they were as comfy as they can be when it's 25 degrees out. My friends have had to hold my hand during my first winter as a shepherd and farmer, because it's hard to believe that donkey doesn't need a coat! The alpacas are loving this cold, and the sheep hardly notice, but the donkey looks downright despondent. But I am assured that he is fine and that donkeys are well suited to life OUTDOORS in all weather, especially with a shed for protection from wind and wet. OK, fine. If you say so.

I told Ted the other day that the only thing more fun than scooping buckets and buckets of poop, was scooping FROZEN poop. I think I understand the term "horse hockey" much more fully now. I'm getting to be a pretty good shot with my rake and poop pan. Ahhhh, this is the life. And I sort of mean it! When the wind is still, I really enjoy going out in the cold and spending quiet time in the field. And I try to appreciate it, knowing the long Texas summer is closer than I think. Blistering summer lasts from April to November around here, so I'm not going to wish away the cold. No sir. I'll take the bundle-up-I-mean-it cold weather over the hot any day! For several days it was squishy slick mud on top of being cold. Then the mud froze and the ground was rock hard. Easier to scoop poop. It was a good day.

When I kick the ice out of the top of the bucket, I lay it aside, and it doesn't melt. The accumulating disks of ice become kind of a visual history of my trips out in the cold. Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone...

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