Tonight we had something we've never had in our two years of living here: takeout. Somali takeout. After a super long day of work, Vincent stopped at a benefit to pick up some Somali takeout and brought it home. We decided to finish up everything, including bringing the freshly sheared sheep into the barn, because it's supposed to get down to 16 F tonight. We have two cull ewes, who we will butcher for dog food, hanging with our flock of four right now, because we're so busy we don't have time to process them. Vincent didn't bother changing out of his work clothes (he was already wearing barn boots and coat), because the moving of everyone to the barn usually takes about two minutes. We get the horse/cow/three goats/four sheep/two dogs into the barn, but the two ewes aren't following. We spend an hour trying to get them into the barn, including herding them out the woods. At the end that hour, a 15-month-old Mulefoot pig trots up, having escaped its enclosure in a different part of the woods. No dice on the ewes, though we're so stinking close. We get them into a barn at one point and then a freaking goose chases them out as we hurriedly close the door. We put a halter on our ram and drag him around, and they follow him into the barn until one of the goats takes an aggressive stance upon their entrance, and they flee.

We decide the sheep will have to handle the cold in the pasture, so we get our four out of the barn. The two cull ewes start up the driveway, but instead of following Pietrina into the pasture, they veer left into the lower pasture, which currently isn't fenced. Then, while I'm following them, they totally disappear into the woods. I hang out with our four sheep and a bucket of alfalfa pellets. Vincent and dogs take off after sheep. Vincent and dogs trespass on neighbors' properties before seeing flashing lights down the hill. Vincent hurries down the hill to find a sheriff and a good samaritan pulled over, along with the two fugitive cull ewes. He and the dogs (who aren't herding dogs and have no herding/chasing instincts whatsoever) scamper around the edge of a ravine bordering the shoulder of the road to get behind the ewes, and then the dogs led the way back, with Vincent behind the ewes. They trespass across at least three neighbors' properties. They arrive on the edge of our property, and I immediately start sprinting, dragging the ram and shaking the bucket, so the flock mentality will kick in. (It works: suddenly I have six sheep running after me). We all, including the two dogs and six sheep, make it into the pasture. It's 23 F, and we're all cold and hungry.

Vincent walks up. He lost his wedding ring during the cull-ewe chase. The Somali takeout food sat in the car and is completely cold. We eat a few bites before heading out with headlamps and flashlights to look for the ring. We spend another hour looking as darkness falls. We don't find it. We close up the coop, look around our messy kitchen, abandon our plans for the night, and collapse into bed.

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Know your farmers and buy food directly from them whenever plausible.

Farm life: Not always ideal or idyllic.  A lifestyle that provides continual opportunities to improve one's systems and routines. A universe of frustration that encompasses bright stars of joy or pain and galaxies of self-doubt.