Sick days

When you shepherd a flock, there are no such things as sick days. Just thinking about it reminds me very much of the Nyquil sick days commercial where the dad comes into the scene to tell Dave that he has to take the next day as a sick day. It isn’t as if I can go to my flock and inform them that I need to take off a sick day or two — or more. They still need to be fed and watered. Ewes will still go into labor and might need my help to deliver their triplets. No matter how bad I might feel, the work in the barn doesn’t stop, and one way or another, it needs to be covered.

Polar sleeps on sister, Petal, as I feed in the barn.

White Romeldale Polar sleeps on sister, Petal, as I feed in the barn. (Both are Nisan’s lambs.)

I have found that lambing is particularly difficult. By this point in our lambing calendar — a week away from being done — I am exhausted. I have been up every few hours almost every night for many weeks. Besides that, there have been several nights when I didn’t sleep at all, getting instead an hour or two nap in the next morning before heading out to do morning chores. The exhaustion leaves me open to catching the many viruses that have been incubating in the human population over the winter. I purposely try to avoid public places during lambing. It’s easier to stay healthy if I avoid exposure — but that isn’t always possible.

Last week Rick had to travel out of state on business. As a result, I had to go into town to pick up some much-needed supplies — and throughout the drive, I considered whether it was a good idea. I knew I was run-down, and I knew I was headed into a store that would be rife with germs. Yet I needed those supplies.

As a result, I’ve been sick since the middle of last week. Despite the fact that it’s been getting worse every day, the sheep still need me! I’m still distributing 500 to 600 pounds of hay every day, feeding out 30 pounds of grain, and moving nearly 100 gallons of water into various buckets, tubs, and barrels. I’m still getting up at least twice each night to check the monitor, and then going out to the barn whenever a ewe is in labor. The work is still there, and it must be done.

Today is the first day that I don’t feel worse — and I might even be just a bit better. This bug has hit me hard: sore throat, cough, body aches, and a low-grade fever. It’s likely the flu, in spite of the flu shot I received last fall. I’m focused on just getting through each day, doing what needs to be done until I’m finished for the day. Hopefully tomorrow will again be better than today. But for now, I’m done for the day and headed to the sofa. I’ll check in with you again on Wednesday — and I’m sure I’ll have a lot more interesting stuff to tell you. (By the way, January has not delivered her lambs yet.)

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  • Erika says:

    Feel better soon! The flu is definitely working its way through the country much later this year.

  • Jane says:

    Your symptoms sound exactly like those of the sick teachers I have seen this year. Oddly it is the adults who are the most often sick this year rather than the students. Take as much care as you can!

    • Dee says:

      It totally took me out today – for the first time in years, I had to spend most of the day in bed, and leave chores to my dear husband (who is absolutely a wonderful guy, but not a shepherd!). I only hope I’m strong enough to get back into the barn tomorrow!

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