This morning, for example, started by being woken up my a horse. Merlin is quiet in the blue dawn but when he feels real sunlight on his dark back he starts questioning why he isn't masticating and the human isn't outside yet. He lets out a bellow that sounds nothing like the audio soundbites of horses you hear in movies and television. It is deep, prehistoric, and loooonnnng. It's not the sound that makes for great neighboring and soon after I hear it I am up, kilted, and outside with Gibson. hay is handed out to all beings with hooves and everyone's water level is checked and updated. In the case of pigs, coats, and chicks it is dumped and replaced with fresh water. In the case of troughs for sheep and horses they are topped off.
This early in the morning the goat wants to be milked and the pigs BEG for a splash of goats milk on their morning ration of pig feed. Jig and Reel are not impressed when all they get is some fresh bedding and some kibble and clean water. They are smart enough to know when the steel milk canister is out and what it means. They are starting to LUNGE towards it and it makes me nervous. A lunging and desperate piglet is adorable. A lunging and desperate swine is a small monster with teeth. I decide to keep the milk pail away and add any excess milk to their feed instead. While it is cute to see them lap and drink the white gold as it pours into their pan and covers their kibble like a giant bowl of Kix — I like my fingers, a lot.
Chick tractors are moved onto fresh grass, as well. There on fresh grass I offer them chicken food right on the grass - not in a pan. I want them to learn that the good ground is where food comes from and since they are being raised in an orphanage and not under a mama hen I find this a lesson I can manage.
I don't check for eggs at this hour since all of yesterdays have been collected and my gals don't lay until the hours of 10Am-2PM. Any time in the late afternoon you can duck your head into the coop or hunt around the barn and find roughly a half dozen eggs a day. They feed me. They feed neighbors. They feed friends visiting from far away. It is a joy to share such good food from hens who know how to catch frogs in streams and sunbath properly!
The goat is not milked until the next phase, since she is starting to wind down in production and the udder isn't even at 80% tightness until noon these days. I usually milk her after morning emails and office work. It's the same phase that includes putting Italics out into his weathering area for breakfast and a sun bath. That is the time for tearing down fences (or repairing them), mowing, weeding, planting, and other more non-animal related chores. It is usually several hours long and split into two more phases. The first being milking/dairywork and weeding (daily chores) and the second being any projects or errands in town.
That is the morning routine right now. It is a dance of necessity, that first round. It's checking off the boxes on the second and third. But that first round is the real morning ritual that never changes. When it is over I come inside for coffee and head upstairs to start the morning work that keeps these animals fed and the roof over my head. Some days that office work is really successful, most days it is not. That is another dance I need to learn, and it is a dance of balance. And I am off at this very moment to work on the projects, ad sales, pitches, contests, freelance, and partnerships that will make another check go to the bank. I am behind on the mortgage and I am scared. Really scared. But I read once that the key to self employment is waking up every single day scared. So far, so good.
This life is nuts, dirty, stressful and not for everyone, I know that. But it is an adventure and a good fight. It gives my life meaning, my soul room to stretch, and I don't know any other way to live. So wish me luck as I figure out if I can pull off another Antlerstock with Brett the Lumberjack, sell some season passes, get some more freelance gigs (Orvis gig dried up…) and celebrate the little victories of self promotion such as articles about the farm in Taproot Magazine and Hudson Valley Living - coming out soon.
This post is all over the place, forgive me. I have only completed phase one and still on my first mug of morning fuel. Time to take on the day!