Thursday, April 3, 2014

Two Goat Dairy & Work

I was carrying a red bucket full of fresh well water to the goats. They had both been grained, Bonita milked, and the stainless steel milk 2 liter milk canister was shining in the morning light at their gate. Sunlight streamed down on the faded red paint of the barn and I kept careful footing on the ice as I delivered them their morning drink after they just provided mine. I smiled. A two-gallon red bucket and a 2-liter milk canister screamed "small holding". I do not work with volume here, just need and a little excess. Every day Bonita gives me 1.5 gallons of fresh milk and her daughter will start being trained to be milked this year. It's a Two-goat dairy, but it certainly is a dairy.

Dairy: a building, room, or establishment for the storage, processing, and distribution of milk and milk products.

I certainly qualify. My little house on the mountain certainly stores and processes milk and milk products. From this house comes cream, cheese, soaps, and the fine milk itself. Friends go home with gifts from the udder and I am proud to have learned the simple skills of milking, goat tending, cheese making, and basic management of the small operation.

I was feeling a quiet pride in this as I brought the goats their water. I set the red bucket inside their paddock and Bonita drank her fill and when she looked up, licking her lips, she nickered and I tugged her beard lovingly. I put my forehead to hers and scratched under her chin. This made her close her eyes and curl her upper lip in pleasure. A small reward for enough milk to sate seven people, but humbly accepted.

When the goats were set for the morning I headed back to the artesian well where my bucket station resides. The horses need four buckets a day, the sheep need 2. My animals are all within thirty yards of the bucket station and I don't mind hauling water. If there is one thing I can do well: it is pushups. I know that hoses are easier but I really have grown to love the grunt work. This place is small and chores done three times over only takes an hour. To spend some of that time huffing and puffing is okay with me. And as soon as this post is put on the blog, Gibson and I will jump into the truck and head north to Nelson Greene's for some of his hay to refill my barn with. That loaded, unloading and stacking of a dozen bales across the farmyard will be huffing and puffing work too, but it all pays off in a slow and steady heart rate and some of the most powerful female punches in my dojang. Work is good.

I think the trick of loving work is choosing it. If I had been raised on a farm I may not feel the way I do about buckets, hand milking, and dodgy ice walking. But since this place is my paradise I find nothing but joy in red buckets of well water offered to goats. I often wonder why I never felt this in the corporate world? I had chosen my degree, chosen my jobs. Perhaps such observations only have to do with physical labor? No one every made me do anything far as career choices went but there was something broken in that system to me. I didn't do work, not really. What I did did not involve "work" at all in the traditional sense. It was siting in a chair, tedium to me. And while I did enjoy designing for the creative aspect I wished very much someone would ask me to help clean windows or mow the lawn outside. To me work is a song of the body. And the most direct method of payment is the work that returns food. I love this blessed exchange.

Today I walked into my house with three quarts of milk, three eggs, and a very recent history of happy animals behind me. It isn't a big payment but it is also horrible, horrible, April. You can't expect much from such a beast. But by may there will be salad greens fresh for the picking, peas on the vines ready to eat, more eggs, potatoes in the ground, and a few chickens or new meat rabbits in the freezer. Turkey season will come and go, hopefully with one of those added to the larder! Plenty is on the way for those who seek it out. And plenty is here, too. My animals know it. Everyone outside had their needs met in return for my day ahead. I have a plan of work indoors and out, with breaks including my bow and quiver and a black horse in need of some refreshed ground manners. Merlin is an angel in August and a demon in April. I look forward to that work too, of horse and human sweat, of hair and hooves. All the things that need doing here will get done. They won't always look pretty and they won't always be perfect but they will do.

People sometimes accuse me of being overly romantic about this place. To that I always say, how else should someone act that is in love?


Blogger Tanya T said...

I agree with you about the hard work. There is something deeply satisfying about it. I have a demanding corporate job and while it is rewarding it makes me tired and the hard work gives me energy.

April 3, 2014 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

May your love last lifelong!

April 3, 2014 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger aart said...

There's a big difference between physical fatigue and mental fatigue....the physical can assuage the mental.

I love reading your 'romantic' blog posts, let's me relive my 30's vicariously...when my legs were whole and my muscles strong and vibrantly pulsing.

April 4, 2014 at 5:53 AM  
Blogger Lorna said...

I have to haul water and milk to our calves too and yes, find it strangely satisfying - much more so than a workout at the gym :)

April 7, 2014 at 11:06 AM  

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