Bonding with Oz
Tractor Oz is pretty amazing. I hesitated to get out there and do some snow removal but once I got going it was fun. Hubby describes it as real life tonka truck playing and I have to agree. I have been spoiled, I acknowledge, with the quick disconnect attachment feature. This makes it so very manageable. And the hydrostatic is so simple to drive and manoeuvre. These features are important in avoiding running over animals....
Beau dog follows me everywhere. Including while I'm on the tractor. And he's not very cognisant of his surroundings at times, especially when he's super focused on something, as only a Border Collie can be. Thus, I am constantly telling him to get out of the way. I can point and say "over there" and he gets that. He is smart, mostly; just not around vehicles.
Back to Oz... So, I am up on Oz every three days, roughly, to put out hay. Usually the bucket is left on for snow removal events. When it's hay time, I remove the bucket and pick up the forks. Afterwards I switch it back. I've learned to let the diesel warm up a lot when it is cold. And I've also learned that windshield wiper fluid with it's high spirits content is a blessing in the cold. Twice now I've had trouble with the bucket and it has been the cold that has seized up the mechanism or simply frozen the bucket in place. Hubby leaves a spray bottle of wiper fluid on the workbench to clean up his fancy car after a mud splattered trip down our road. I grab it and spray it on the offending bits and all is well.
It is amazing how precise one can be with the bucket or forks. It's a tight fit putting the hay in the overhang, and then there's getting it out. I insert the forks, piercing the bottom section of the bale. I need enough momentum forward to do this without sending it all into next week. I lift up, tilt up, then back up, lowering as need to avoid hitting the roof edge. It's all smooth, slow, gentle, and very cool!
I go around the barn and set the bale down. The sheep have been locked into the barn to keep all safely out of the way. A few times Henrietta has been out and she runs up to the bale and starts eating it. I can hear her thoughts, "Oh, for me? Yes! Stop moving! Let me at it! It's mine!" Lately she is staying with the sheep and out of the way.
I cut the four strings that bind the bale and get back on the tractor. At first I did it all by hand but am learning to always ask myself what can the tractor do. I use the tractor forks to push the ends of the bale outward to spread out the hay. If some catches on the forks I move it further. There are 29 sheep and 1 llama and all need sufficient space for proper feeding. I dismount from the tractor and roll out the large flakes, spreading the bale around the yard.
Oz has been a blessing with the snow. However, this week Oz and I were truly challenged. In one day over 40cm of snow fell. It was very lovely - at first. And then there was freezing rain. And then the big fluffy flakes gave way to lighter, sleety stuff, and back to big fluffy flakes. There was so much snow.
Oz and I went at it in the morning and moved the light fluffy stuff. More snow fell in behind us and I left it for later. I had put hay out in the morning too. Mid-day I went out again and moved a bit, but it wasn't done falling. Oz needs new headlights but I did go out in the dark. Between the house lights, a head lamp and the brightness of snow I could see quite well. It was tough going. Oz was getting stuck as the fluffiness was gone and it was now heavy, boggy snow. I could move it and clear stuff but not enough that I could get the car out. And it was still snowing.
I came inside, having tucked Oz in for the night, and made some phone calls. I cancelled my plans for the next day. I telephoned the snow removal fellow and he said he'd come the next morning. As he was plowing I was hand shovelling and he opened the truck window and just said, "Wow!"
"Yes" I replied, "That's why I called you."
I had managed in that morning to clear the snow away from the barn doors with Oz. But it was slow going. I took the snow off in layers. My work was sufficient to get the tractor in to move hay. I was satisfied I could feed the sheep and receive more hay the next week. All in all though I kept in mind that the temperature was expected to rise in the next week and likely take away some of this accumulation.
Snow. It's winter here. It's been slow to arrive but "Wow" is the best way to describe the sudden and bullish arrival of the season. School buses in the area were cancelled for two days and that is always a good indicator to me of the severity of the road conditions and driving. I just stay home.
I am overdone. "Done like dinner", "Toast" are expressions I have used. I am getting too many hours at work and must stop. I asked for fewer hours and was denied. I was instead asked to stay on - with fewer hours - while a replacement if found. So, I am actually getting what I requested....
It took me almost a week to feel back to normal. I just needed to rest and find the flow instead of running constantly to work. The retail work hours are long and I'm on my feet all the time.
At any rate, it's done. I'm not exactly sure when my last day will be but know it will be soon. In the meantime I have had fewer hours and it has been much more manageable.
"The older lady"
She meant me! I was really set back by this, physically reeling from the telephone. It was a customer calling about an interaction we had had earlier in the day. She was looking for a receipt which the manager found on the floor earlier in the day. All was well with her situation. But; I thought, she was the older lady!
Some of the other cashiers are my age, while the rest are high school students. Thus, in contrast I was "the older lady" from this customer's perspective. Still, despite the grey hair and the physical complaints, we do avoid our own labels. And then they hit full force.
I'm not going to dwell on this one.