Monday, January 3, 2011

Evening barn chores

I look at the clock and wince slightly. It says it's 8 'o' clock p.m. Milking time. I love milking time normally; it's so peaceful out there... But with the nighttime temperatures hovering around the high 20's to low 30's, I begin to appreciate the morning milkings more.

I don my puffy Carhartt coat and my boots which are frozen stiff, then make my way towards the barn....

As I suspected, it's cold outside. A frost hangs in the air and the wind moans a hollow echo as it moves through the valley. There is no moon tonight, but I can see Orion keeping his silent vigil, the Milky way, and the Big Dipper, which is hanging a little off kilter in the Northern sky...

The animals all look like tiny dragons as their frosty breath makes puffs and clouds. I feel bad for my Nubian goats, who do not have as thick of a winter coat as my Saanen cross doe.
I go to close up the chicken coop, and then realize too late that there is a gate still open next to it. Who should waltz in to see the sleepy chickens, but my heifer 'Poppy'. She has no idea how big she really is, as she bumbles and blunders around amongst the surprised and annoyed hens. I try to take her back to the barn, but like a stubborn toddler, she refuses to move. A bit more pulling and pushing gets her on the right side of the gate. Whew.

My Nubians are put in a small stall, next to the milking area; I don't want them eating Heidi's dinner, or escaping while I throw fresh hay into their manger. At last, after finishing up the barn chores, I prepare to milk the goats....

When everything is ready, I open the stall door and watch Capri dance out. The goats are such creatures of habit that I don't need to say anything; It's always Capri first, and then Ivy.
With no further help on my part, Capri nudges the milking stall door open, jumps onto the milk stand and begins eating her dinner.

Capri flinches slightly as my icy fingers begin milking her, but I soon warm up. The goats radiate body heat, their udders are warm, and steam rises from the fresh, foamy milk that is zinging into the pail; It's like sitting next to a heater... I don't get far with the milking before Capri has finished her small bit of grain that she gets; thankfully, she chews her cud and patiently waits for me to finish.

The same routine happens with Ivy. Everything is quiet, I can hear the goats and Poppy munching on their hay. The barn cat watches me milk; he's under the delusion that I'm there to worship and adore him. Sorry pussycat, I'm just trying to finish up my chores here...

I finish up, and then work my way back outside. It's still cold out there. I lock the barn door, and turn to go into the house. Orion is still where he was.... I hear a lone coyote wailing in the distance, and an owl hooting close by. My boots crunch on the frozen ground, and I can hear the milk sloshing in my pail.

God's in His heaven, all's right with the world....

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Very nice post....I felt like I was there with you. =)

Aunt M