fence line: a tale of sheep and laundry

Anyone that dries on a line knows the relationship with that place. Those hours spent hanging your own and perhaps your family’s garments to be dried by the elements. You form a bond with that spot, you have a rhythm with those pins, you know the most efficient way to wash, hang, fold and transport. This age old process of asking the sun and wind to help make our clothing crisp and clean, I love that I share it with so many before me and so many I know are ahead.
It seems most aspects of my life are interdependent with the weather. Our crops thrive or suffer from the impact of precipitation and sunshine. Each year is different, each crop special. My laundry gets to share in that too. With no dryer, I rely on rainless days to keep clean clothes on the hangers. With five working bodies around here, this is not always an easy job. The funny thing about my clothesline, the point of this story actually, is I get the added thrill of sharing my spot with our flock. Yep, sheep, Jacob’s sheep, ewes, rams, lambs, between 25 and 60 of them depending on the season. they eat the grass all over this homestead in regular pasture rotation that has them right under and around my line with predictable frequency.
It isn’t always the easiest spot to share. During the winter I am rather gracious as I have a drying rack that sits next to my woodstove that can dry a load in no time. In spring I can be pretty accomodating too as our clothing isn’t quite so, shall we say, needy? But late summer, early autumn, right when we are at a peak of busyness and dirtiness, I want my line. To myself.
You see, if the sheep are grazing the knoll out the back door where my line hangs, my precious 100 or so feet and countless well worn pegs, I have to hop over the electrified net to get there. Now, I can hop with the best of them, but holding a basket of wet laundry makes the leap harder. And those lambs, they love to nibble on long garments, just for fun.
Last week, in all its sunny, windy, workaday glory, my line was off limits. The laundry piled up, the work continued, the sheep grazed happily. A few fall lambs were born, our supply of work shirts dwindled.
This sunday morning dawned my solid cleaning day, I pleaded to the shepherd, my husband, the supplier of vast quantities of dirty clothes. He accomodated, shifting the sheep’s paddock by a few gracious feet, and off I went. My history with laundry is long. With the fondest memories of hand washing cloth diapers and late nights at neon lit laundromats. I settle into my newest phase, the latest place to hang my family’s garments, I can share with my flock, yes I can.


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