Not the perfect storm

Our Icelandic ram Tuffi has a set of curved horns that would make a mountain sheep weep with envy.

Our Icelandic ram Tuffi has a set of curved horns that would make a mountain sheep weep with envy.

Unfortunately, he likes to introduce them everything in sight. Fence panels, posts, trees, even the sheep shelter.

“Tuffi my man,” I told him, when he crashed yet again into the shelter. “That wall is holding up the very roof over your head. You might want to give that some thought.”

But no, Tuffi had other plans for his head and thinking clearly wasn’t one of them. I suppose anything that uses its head to repeatedly bash into stuff cannot be accused of being bright. With every crash I suspect his light gets a little dimmer.

The problem with the winter sheep shelter is twofold.

One, it was built to be temporary while the sheep winter inside my fenced garden and two, I built it myself. When Darcy builds something it could safely contain an elephant. When I build something — well, not so much.

Last week I woke to the radio alarm announcing a terrible storm due to hit by mid-morning. I flung back the blankets and hit the ground running.

My plan was to get the chores done in record time and get back into the house before the storm hit. By the time I got a fire going in the stove, fed the birds and started the coffee the first flakes were tumbling down.

I glanced out the window towards the barn yard and felt a twinge of guilt over the poor animals that would be left in the storm, while I would soon be curled up cosy and warm beside the wood stove, a hot cup of coffee in hand.

I struggled into my winter gear and stepped into what looked like a snow globe being vigorously shook by a hyperactive grandchild. I watched as a sheet of white swept its way up the driveway and engulfed me. Visibility was so poor I almost walked right into one of our horses, who had picked this morning of all mornings to break out.

I checked for a broken fence or an open gate, but there was no sign of either. Since she hasn’t got out since, the only reasonable conclusion is she simply blew over the fence.

After putting Mindy back in — an easy task since “in” was where all the food and refuge was — I discovered that Tuffi had finally succeeded in knocking out a wall of the shelter. He stood knee deep in smashed boards looking enormously pleased with himself, smirking at the ewes through the swirling snow as if to say, “Yeah, feast your eyes on me ladies. I’ve got it going on.” I sincerely hope the ewes were thinking, “Get over yourself you big stupid duffus.” Better yet, I hope they told him.

Miraculously the roof was still holding, albeit one corner was bouncing wildly in mid-air.

Before fixing the shelter, I decided to move Tuffi back into his summer pasture, a task long overdue. Breeding season was finished weeks ago and his summer shed is far more ram friendly than the winter one.

However, this meant moving around some fence panels that were buried in ice and snow. I’d hoped to wait for a warm spring type of day to make the move; a day polar opposite to this one.

I rushed about in a flurry of activity involving hammers, boards, wire cutters, ice picks, shovels and a most reluctant ram.

By the time everyone was safe, warm and fed I returned wet and shivering to the house to find the stove had gone out and the coffee pot had shut itself off.

Meanwhile, the objects of my morning pity contentedly munched their hay and oats, sipped their water, licked their salt block and then sank into a knee deep bed of fresh straw in their respective shelters to digest their breakfast. Except for Tuffi, who was too busy rushing about his summer digs, reintroducing h is horns to everything in sight.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can read more of her humour at

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