After four dusty, dry months, it has finally rained here. An honest-to-goodness, long, slow, soaking rain. I am awash with gratefulness and am loving the sight of the raindrops quenching the ground's thirst. This has been the driest summer that Oregon has had in 50 years, and last year was the wettest year in just about as long.
My morning started out the same as usual, with milking the animals. The milking machine hummed as I tended the cow, and my MP3 hummed as I milked the goats. This girl's gotta' have music one way or the other. :) Barn chores were just barely finished when the gray truck belonging to a friend and neighbor pulled up; she and I, plus her two daughters, were headed out to buy some hay for my animals. I had tried futilely all week to have the hay delivered, but now I was giving up and decided that if the hay couldn't come here, then I would go to the hay. Gray clouds and a light mist loomed ahead as the four of us drove along Highway 18 in a truck that matched the color of the day's weather. Thankfully our destination was only four minutes away, so the ride was fast. I was so incredibly grateful for my friend's help... The hay sellers were going to charge me $60 just to deliver hay to a place that was a mere four miles from their HQ; not only was my friend helping me get hay TODAY, but she was saving me a goodly chunk of money. You can't beat that with a stick, my friends.
A half ton was loaded into the back of the truck while I petted the owner's Jack Russel Terrier named 'Annie'. Petite and feminine looking, one might not guess at first that her job here was purely to hunt out and kill any rodents that might hide in the hay. She had a pretty cushy life though, concerning all things, as I watched her trot over to a tractor that was being run by someone else and curl up on a little blanket that was permanently on the floorboard, just for her.
It took two trips with my friend's truck, to get a whole ton of hay home. Ten bales are a lovely 3rd cutting alfalfa hay that came from Eastern Oregon. It's so green and sweet smelling that one is tempted to pour some Ranch dressing on it and grab a fork. Another eleven bales of hay are 3rd cutting orchard grass hay that also hail from the dry, desert like region of Oregon. The orchard grass is so soft that it fairly brings tears to a dairy farmer's eyes, and could be substituted it for a pillow without anyone complaining.
Just as we finished stacking the hay, the skies opened up and it began to rain.
It's on days like this, that I am so grateful to be alive...
It is cold, wet, and dreary outside, but not only am I warm and dry inside, but I know that in my barn are 104 animals that are also warm, dry, and fed. There is a ton of hay safely under the roof of the barn; 21 bales of food for dreary days yet to come. We have food, warmth, and shelter, and we are thus contented. Let the rains come; I relish them. I love the wet for the feeling of being dry when I'm inside. I love it for knowing that my animals are content and cared for. The cow can ruminate next to a manger that is stocked to the brim with hay; her biggest exertion these days is spent in growing the calf that is inside her.
The clock says 6:57pm... I need to go milk the cow in 3 minutes. Need to get glass jars ready, don my rose colored Carhartt coat and step into the wet and dark world. The cow will be standing next to the chain link gate in the barn. Standing there and waiting... Waiting. She does not bellow tonight for her stomach is full and her udder is almost empty; she waits out of habit, not of need. I will hook the milking machine up and put it on her, the hum of the vacuum momentarily hiding the noise of raindrops falling on a metal barn roof. But when all is done and my cow follows me back to the pen, we both hear the noise we have not heard in months: Rain. She will go back to her spot next to the manger to chew her cud and grow her calf, whilst I walk back to the house with the milk pail. Walk back through the wet and dark world. And inside, I am warm and dry... And outside so are my animals. Let the rains come. I relish them.