Yesterday I woke up alone to the sound of rain. Friday was right beside me on the floor, on her dog bed, snuggled deeply into extra quilts and blankets. Her nest was right beside the cozy double bed Shannon and I share. Gibson was asleep on his own bed, on his back with his paws in the air. It wasn’t even light out yet and I felt motivated to get up. I knew chores in the rain would be a strong wake up call, more so than any mug of coffee, so I got up and got dressed. I like mornings, even dark ones like that.
Shannon was in Connecticut visiting family and would be back later in the day. Waking up alone was a familiar feeling, but one I am learning to forget. I really like waking up beside her. Some days I need more rest and she gets on her muck boots and a flannel and heads out into the crisp air with the dogs and does all the chores. But most mornings I prefer to get up and get the day started solo. Start the kettle full of hot water for coffee. Let the dogs out to pee. Fill the meowing cats their brekky bowls. Clean up the couch cushions and blankets from whatever we were watching together the night before. Straighten the place up to be more inviting to a day of office work indoors.
Soon I was outside in the misty rain. There was no crunch from the wet leaves below but the autumnal path was magical. Leaves in gold, red, brown, and green and every color combination therein under my feet and over the mud.
We grained the sheep and goat and let the chickens out of their coops. Making the farm instantly quieter from baaing and bleats and louder from chickens and geese. I opened the barn door wide to let out the birds that roost in the barn and the four large geese. Geese to not walk out of a barn quietly. It’s a parade of honks and squawks.
Inside the barn there is now a feeding station. Several metal bins with the animal whose feed it contains spray-painted on top from a stencil. I open the one with the orange chicken and get out a big grain scoop and make a path outside the barn in the grass. All the birds eat at their picked spot, a fowl line.
After the flocks (sheep and poultry) are fed it’s time to feed the pigs and horses. The horses split a half bale of hay as their first meal of the day, a supplement to their pasture and grazing. Their water is checked and cleared of leaves. The farrier was here about four weeks ago and complimented them on their set up. Our hillside is a mix of grass, woods, rocky spots, and hillside pasture. They need to walk uphill to be in the pasture and graze, walk across stoney ground to make it to the woods, and their water and hay nets are set up in the woods. That combination of ground to cover and variety seems to be good for their feet. Luck and good footing, not a bad combination.
The pigs are the last to wake up. They are a pile of warm bodies under hay in the barn. They are fed outside with a series of rubber round tubs on strings. We devised a way to use braided baling twine to make leashes that are tied through a drilled hole in the rubber. We set them out in the pen and pour their morning feed from their grain bin (yellow pig stencil on the outside) and once they are done the rubber bins are pulled back out, as no not get them lost in piggy politics of snorting around and tussling.
Chores do not take long. Feeding comes first and then the two five gallon buckets are filled to refill water stations. The hill beasts didn’t need any water at all, it was topped off from the inch of rain we received the night before. The pigs only had half a water trough and it was muddy from their noses. Every morning and evening that muddy water is removed and replaced with fresh clear well water. Which is what I did yesterday morning as well.
By the time I am inside ready to make coffee in the giant, steel, French press there are dozens of content beasts already finishing their breakfasts. That feeling of contentment left behind has never gotten tiresome to me. I so adore sitting with my morning coffee knowing they are all settled. I watched the rain and wind pick up and lit candles around the farmhouse. Every jack o lantern and wick lit to bring in a little warmth and cheer.
When I worked in an office this was all I ever wanted. To come back in from chores and sit with a cup of coffee. When I used to rush into the shower, work clothes, and then my Subaru to make it to the office in time I was frantic. Every hour at that cubicle station was just ticking away to my lunch break and then my trip home. Back to a place of animals and gardens, music and books. And here I am, nearly 40 years old, and still savoring this small dream.