You Gotta Have a System
|The service at this bar is terrible...|
I wake up in a pile of collies and the occasional cat. Remember that scene in The Lion King where Simba jumps around the pile of lions to wake up his dad? It's like that, only Friday plays the role of Simba by pouncing around me, Gibson, and whatever feline was stupid enough to sleep with us instead of the guest bedroom. Growls and yowling ensue. We go downstairs and I let the dogs outside and let them relieve themselves while the cats bitch for kibble. I feed those two and set up a percolator on the stove. I feed the cats first both for reasons of low self esteem and volume control. The coffee pot is set on stove top and burner turned on. Primary mammals of House Woginrich all have their most-pressing needs met.
Next the birds in the living room brooder need clean bedding. Got to do this every AM unless I want the house to smell like a barn. (I use hay instead of wood chips - less dust and easier to access here.) The chicks get fresh water and chick feed. They are easy clean up and see to. The brooder has a divider so the new babies from the heroic postal worker (see last story post) are under a heat lamp and the older Silkie Bantams are off-lamp and enjoying some new treats now like freeze-dried mealworms! The ducks are outside, kinda. They are on the porch just outside the French Doors and have hay bedding to refresh too. They also get clean water and feed. This is the fastest way to take care of 40 animals* before coffee.
I join the dogs outside and feed the sheep and horse first. The sheep are mostly in a large pen now to give the grass a chance to grow. They get a bales of second cut which are waiting in the back of the truck instead of the barn (time saver from the night before). I make a note to call Othniel from Common Sense Farm about another hay delivery. He was supposed to come yesterday but it's spring at his farm too and he just had a new baby girl! Mazel Tov!
Merlin comes running from the far field at the site of me carrying hay up to the sheep. Gods, that is a beautiful sight. He has the entire 3-acre field to run around on. I was looking at him this morning in the rainy mud and fog. His strong outline on the shockingly green hillside. He was born in the wilds of Cumbria on rolling hills. Now he has found a home with his own space that must feel something like it. I know a lot of horses who spend their days in stalls and tiny turn-out paddocks. Merlin can run full speed across his own mini-moor. It makes me happy.
Next up are goats, birds, and pigs. The pigs are fed and checked in on. Their water and bedding replaced. They are on their way to freezer camp soon, in pairs, by appointment. The two biggest go first next weekend.
My entire flock of chickens are free ranging. They have feeding stations though, and I make sure all the birds have access to a mix of bird chow and scratch grains. No one comes running to it since they are all around the stream eating the small worms brought up from the rain last night. Who wants cereal when theirs sausages? The geese also don't care. They are eating grass by the kitchen garden and Saro is still resting on a large nest of eggs. Fingers crossed.
Aya Cash is in her mews, head tucked back asleep. She was fed yesterday evening and won't need dinner till later. I just make sure she's okay.
Bonita was still pregnant and showing no signs of labor so there was nothing to do with her but get her some hay for breakfast. Ida was ready for milking. Here is where we need to give it up for Ida. She doesn’t even need a stanchion or to be tied up. Right in her pen I set a pail below her, squatted on my haunches, and milked her out in 4 minutes. If I was using the milk for myself or cheese or anything humans would consume it would be a far more intense ordeal of stanchion, udder washing, massage, milking, and then back into the pen. Right now I am quickly getting her bag empty for some quickly-strained kid milk and some soap practice batches. Made the first trial batch yesterday and am happy with them! Now 85+ animals** are cared for before coffee. I really want that coffee.
The years of Goatery involved in that last sentence are astounding. I swear this is why People homestead. The satisfaction I got from that quick chore was on par with the half marathon I ran in September. Why? Because Ida was born here. I bred this goat, raised this goat, trained this goat to be milked calmly, got this goat a buck to breed her, and now she has given me both kids to sell and/or raise and milk in the pail. It took a while to learn to milk well (a season if I am honest), but now this small chore makes me feel like a low-rent superhero.
Chores are mostly done. I go inside the farm house and it smells like sacred coffee. It is amazing.
Before I make my cup I pour the fresh milk into bottles and feed the kids, who are now wide awake. They eat and jump around the farmhouse. After their bellies are full I put them outside with Gibson to babysit while I take out their pee pads and replace them with fresh dry ones. I woke up an hour earlier. I can feel myself wanting to crawl back into bed. This means finally making a large mug of coffee, which I do with the gratitude of the ages. It tastes amazing and I sip it slowly.
Soon the kids are back inside and ready for another nap. These early goatling days are just bursts of play, milk, and then another stretch of sleep. The dogs get their breakfast now. They eat bowls of kibble and I refresh my cup. I give myself some time for news, politics, pop culture and videos of last night's Late Night talk shows. I check on my horcruxes. I write this blog post. In a short while a long stretch of design work will follow. I make notes of mechanic & farrier appointments, clients to catch up with, that hay delivery to remind about, and general life notes. I write my to-do list and income goals down on paper, my boss. The day is just starting and I have maintained a kingdom before caffeine. It feels lucky and right.
Thanks for coming along on morning chores with me!
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*30 chicks, 5 ducklings, 2 dogs, 2 cats, one primate. Goat kids are still sleeping in dog crate.
** 9 sheep, 5 pigs, 2 adult goats, 30+ mixed poultry, and a hawk.