Tuesday, February 7, 2012

full moon chores

I love doing my evening chores on the night of the Full Moon. She rises up over the mountain above me, sometimes popping out of nowhere, and then as I muck about with buckets and boots over frozen chicken poo, she watches the entire night unfold on this farm.

The moon sees me dump out Jasper's old water and fill it with a new fount, clear and cold. She sees me waddle about with my glowing lantern, from chicken coop to broiler pen, laying fresh bedding and turning stale loaves of bread from this weekend's workshop into eggs and meat. She'll see me toil and laugh out there as I move a barrow of hay to the flock, talking to the frail Lisette as I hand her a small flake all for herself.

I have learned that in a flock like this some sheep shine and others wither. You can offer them feed and shelter, medical care, attention, and everything else but some just have the better genes and braver hearts and they live like it. The now two-year old Blackface I called Brigit is a brick shit house, the finest ewe at this farm (don't you dare let Maude hear you say so though). She is sturdy and strong and easily 175 pounds of meat and bone. Lisette is 6 years old and never truly recovered from the wounds of a Ketosis-riddled pregnancy. Her ewe lamb is dead. I shot the same small girl I helped bring into the world. A farm is not a place of innocence, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool. The moon saw that too.

More sheep thrive here than not. I consider this my work and the goodness of the farm so far. Before I left the moonlight I looked around at the horse pen, the fields of dead grass, the places Brett and I talked about improving with new pasture and sheds and gates. I listened to the meat chicks rattle in their warm barn and the coos of resting hens on their roosts. The big white rooster remains in the same branch of the same tree he has slept in every night since October outside the coop. It has been so mild he has never spent a night in. I don't think the reining rooster, Lou, would let him.

I wish for spring like many others, but I know chores at moonrise are winter's gift. I am grateful for it while it lasts, and grateful for the firelight indoors when the lanterns are put out.

18 Comments:

Blogger The Weekend Homesteader said...

I don't comment often, but I read daily. I wanted to say I love this post!

February 7, 2012 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

I have an Aracauna hen named Molly that spends every night about 30 feet up in a balsam. Every once in a while, she'll let another hen (Glory) join her. I worry about her but she seems to know when the weather conditions will be too mean for her to spend the night out. She does wander into the coop on those fiercely cold nights when the wind whips around the farmyard.

February 7, 2012 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

I have an Aracauna hen named Molly that spends every night about 30 feet up in a balsam. Every once in a while, she'll let another hen (Glory) join her. I worry about her but she seems to know when the weather conditions will be too mean for her to spend the night out. She does wander into the coop on those fiercely cold nights when the wind whips around the farmyard.

February 7, 2012 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

Beautiful, Jenna! Real and true, but somehow romantic too :)
-Jaime

February 7, 2012 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Tonight I went out to do chores by headlamp but the full moon shone brightly. I closed up the chickens and turkeys against the near 0 temps we are supposed to get tonight. Now I hear the wind picking up as the cold front moves in. Time to put more wood in the stove and to gaze out at the moonlight on the little bit of snow still hanging on.

February 7, 2012 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I like thinking that the same full moon I'm looking at, is being looked at, and shining on my friends and family.

February 7, 2012 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger Karen C said...

Just discovered that my favorite local independent bookstore, Buffalo Street Books here in Ithaca, NY is featuring Made from Scratch in one of their book clubs this month! Just thought you'd want to know.

February 7, 2012 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Working your own farm seems like it's own magic. Working your own farm under the full moon is further transformed.

I like your sheeps' names!

February 8, 2012 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Under the same moonshine here in Oregon, it is a beautiful thing to think your chores were watched over by it's beautiful face :) Rest easy, Spring will be here with all its chores too soon :)

February 8, 2012 at 1:12 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Lovely post, thank you.

February 8, 2012 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Ah Jenna I so enjoy your writing - thank you for the lovely words as we were under clouds last night

February 8, 2012 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Brittany said...

An honest rendition of what happens in the everyday on the farm. A farmer must accept life and death on a farm for a farm cannot operate with one and not the other. Life is not always glorious and beautiful, we must all muck around in the poop and do the chores but the rewards far out wiegh this all. It is so worth it.

February 8, 2012 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Kira said...

Jenna,
I don't mean to ruin a lovely post with talk of rodents, but what became of your rodent infestation? I'm having a small problem myself in my hen house and have resorted to spring loaded traps. They seem to be doing the job but wonder if there's another solution - or better yet, a prevention. I already keep feed in bins and remove the feeder at night, never-the-less, those mice find something of interest.

February 8, 2012 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Cee said...

I to live in Washington County, PA. Yes, the full moon has an effect on everyone, but the winter ones bring a clear crispness to the winter evenings.. Love coming in and stoking the stove. settling in for a long winters nap..thanks for the blog..I'll keep reading..

February 8, 2012 at 4:18 PM  
OpenID 5spposies said...

I can relate as I live in Washington County,PA. The full moon certainly has an effect on animals. There is something about a winter's full moon that adds a crispness to the night air. I hurry to come in ans stoke the furnace, then turn in for a long winters nap..I've enjoyed reading -thank-you

February 8, 2012 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger farmgirlwanabe said...

Jenna - I thought of you last night because for the first time in my life I actually saw a huge harvest type yellow moon on the horizon last night - on my way home from work last night around 7 pm up here in NE Ontario it was dark dark and I happened to glance in my rearview mirror and almost slammed on the brakes because there was this big ol yellow moon - it was so strange to see something that we only see in the fall - normally we only see the moon wee way way up in the sky - this one was just above the 'road'. We get awesome borealis where I grew up but never saw a mooon like that in February. It was magical...

February 9, 2012 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Sue at Sweetgrass Ranch said...

Wonderful, vivid post, Jenna. I felt like I was there in the moonlight.

February 10, 2012 at 3:20 AM  
Blogger Amy Daniels said...

Nice reading. Thanks.

February 14, 2012 at 4:32 PM  

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