*click click click* *skid*
*click click click* *pause*
I slowly enter consciousness.
*click click click*
What is that? Daisy...surely it's too early for her to be up? I roll over to check the time, my face gets too close to the bedside and I am greeted with a big retriever lick from Missy. She stomps her feet back and forth, her tail thumps against the floor, all as if to say, “Oh goodie, you're awake!” 7:01am. I have to smile because as much as I would prefer to be back in my dream, these are pretty sweet things to wake up to. Something scratches my arm...no, scratch isn't quite the word. Ah, a cat lick. Carlie has woken up too – perhaps I woke her with my turn.
This is it, my day has begun.
I swing my legs off the bed and resist rubbing my eyes. Wood stove heat, though cosy, has me going through heaps of eye drops in the mornings. I mumble greetings to the beings that are pacing with excitement and perhaps a bit of urgency to get outside,
“Good morning, dogs. Good morning, Carlie.”
It has become routine that I come last in the morning. I shuffle to the front door and let the dogs out. Every time it seems like Christmas morning for them to go out to relieve themselves and play in the snow. I crank open the damper on the wood stove to take the chill off the house. Through the kitchen, the open concept is perfect for sleepy morning routines, I click the “on” button of the coffee machine and head back down the hallway. I switch on the light in the boys' room, aka. The Science Room, aka. Butters the bunny's bedroom.
Glancing around, Juno, one of the other cats it there too. He blinks at me with slight accusation for interrupting his morning slumber.
It's my turn – or so I think. Fully awake now, I walk into the bathroom. Frankie, the 6th four-legged being, is curled up on the bath mat. “Good morning, Frankie”. He always seems thrilled to see me, it doesn't matter what time. He meows, purrs, does figure eights around my feet.
What a crew.
I hear Daisy the dachshund’s high pitched bark. Without time to get to the end of the hall on my way to the door, she barks again. And again. I'm coming, Daisy! She pushes through a barely open door, whole body wagging as wiener dogs tend to do. Again, I have to smile. The sight never gets old. She plops herself in front of the wood stove with attitude.
My stomach growls. I love breakfast time. Ah, but so do they. Water changed, food bowls filled. I go through my morning mental checklist, yes, now it is my turn. I go about fixing my own breakfast, pour my freshly brewed coffee, sit down, and open my lap top.
Missy. It's less of a “ruff” and more of an “a-roof!” (complete with exclamation mark).
Up again to let her in. She pushes by with far more force than Daisy simply due to size. Tail wagging, she scatters snow all over with each eager step to her breakfast bowl.
Now it is my turn!
Mew. Meow. *nails on glass* I cringe (it's worse than a chalkboard) and turn around. There's the aloof Juno, always the first of the cats to venture outside in the morning. I get up and let him out. The next 40 minutes that I always think are “mine” are punctuated with the cats coming in and out, seems they can't make up their mind about where they'd like to be.
Emails caught up on. Facebook browsed. I take the last sip of my second cup of coffee and glance at the clock. Just after 8am, the barn animals will be waiting.
I pull my jeans on over my pyjama bottoms, grab my sweater and a toque. Missy knows what's happening and she's rather excited about it - barn time! Racing up and down the hallway, wagging her tail so strongly it could be used as a weapon – let's go! I yank on my Bogs, my barn gloves, and gather the hose that sits in the house entrance to prevent freezing overnight – oh the things I have never had to think about before!
Missy is already out the door and rolling in the snow again. The barn isn't far away though hauling a long hose through 6” of fresh powder makes it seem farther. I attach it to the water supply when I get there and pull open the big door.
I'm greeted by loud bleets.
“Good morning, goats!”
“Good morning, chickens!”
“Good morning, Brenda.”
One of the two roosters is walking around as if he was the first to wake on any given day. I smile.
Brenda the cow stands up. I count, 1, 2, 3, 4 chickens. Good. Peak in on the boy goats – 2. All is well.
Over to the mama goats and kids, fresh water in the morning to them seems as exciting as a glass of wine in the evening to me. Some of the kids are still sleeping. I feel myself soften inside as I see pairs and triplets curled and huddled together, blinking sleepily. Their mothers come to the fence and greet me with more bleets. It's like they are telling me about their night. What stories!! One night we had an earthquake and one mama goat didn't stop talking about it for over 24 hours. She has settled now.
Water running, kids now up and playing on the jungle gym of houses in their pen.
As that runs, I fill Brenda's feeder with hay. She's eating for two – pregnant and due in April.
While she munches, I move the hose to her water “bowl”. It's got to hold 30L and needs filling each morning!
Breakfast for the goats now. I climb the stack of hay bails, 3 high, so that I can fill their feeder from the top. Breaking open hay bails has become second nature. As I drop flakes in the feeder, nearly all of the 18 goats trot over, pushing each other out of the way with their horns.
Time to muck out Brenda's stall. I think that calf in utero is producing its own share of manure already! Nearly a month into this, I'm still not so comfortable being in the stall with a giant cow. She's never done anything but lick me but that doesn't change the fact that she is a very powerful animal.
When her area is as clean as I am able to make it, I toss in a big flake of hay for her to munch on when she's done with her feeder – she needs about a bail per day just for herself and growing calf.
Once again, I go through my mental checklist of morning barn activities. Done for now. I have a quick chat and pat with Meadow, one of the most darling little goats. She is as old as the mother goats but is dwarfed in some way and absolutely adorable.
Back into the house. Daisy, Carlie, and Frankie have taken up residence in front of the wood stove. Juno is no where to be seen. My responsibilities to my 2 and 4 legged friends are complete and I can carry on with what I need to get done for me. It is a great feeling to know that I have all of them depending on me. Despite how I feel, I need to get up, get dressed, and get my jobs done. It is not without lovely reward. They seem to have taken to me, I am never really alone out here, and I smile a lot because of them.
My farm day has not ended, but this post has. The little ones have found comfy places for their siestas and I can do what I need to do for me for a few hours.