Posted on | April 2, 2011 | 9 Comments
Some people are born to farm. Some people are born on a farm. Every once in a while, the stars line up, the Fates smile down, God snaps His fingers, and a child who is born to farm is born on a farm. And you get this:
So when I have to be at work by 6am, I can get up at 4:45am to do the milking before I leave. Or I can let Pretty do it all for me when she gets up for the day.
She feeds Bruno first. Because he has been up all night protecting the herd. And because he runs to his house and waits right by his bowl with a sweet, loving smile that no one can resist.
Then she feeds her pony, Candy Corn. Who only gets a little handful of grain that she doesn’t really need, but we buy for her since we can’t stand to see any critter go without while everyone else is chowing down. I mean, it would be like watching the kids eat their after school snack without having any for yourself. Who does that? (Except for people who can fit in their skinny jeans.)
She throws out some feed for the free range hens, ducks, and guineas. Which is a bit like braving a mosh pit. Well, a mosh pit where the people peck your legs as you get close to the stage. Not for the faint of heart.
She makes sure Blackbeard gets some separate feed since Blackbeard is broody and needs as much food as she can get during the 10 minutes a day she is off her nest.
She checks on Snowball, who is also broody, and makes sure she is OK. Snowball thinks it’s a little too cold to come off her eggs for breakfast. What if the eggs get a chill? She also thinks Blackbeard is a horrible mom for putting her own needs above her unborn ducklings. Mompetition, you know.
She collects all the eggs.
Including all the ones not in the nest box.
She feeds the bucks. Who are quick to tell her that the girls have been asking to see them all day and she should be sure to let them over for a quick visit. Luckily, she is already too smart to be fooled by silly boys.
She remembers to shut the door to the goat barn before milking in order to keep out greedy, troublesome, bully-the-goats-during-their-breakfast ponies.
She feeds the goats who are not in milk, but wish that they were so that they could get extra rations.
Then she puts Carmen on the stand and gets down to business.
Julia keeps herself occupied until it’s her turn.
Which is fine because she’s a sweet and stellar performer when she steps up to the milk pail.
She gives a bit of extra feed to Magenta, since she is due to kid in 2 weeks. Which entails quite a bit of professional goat blocking.
She feeds the chicks in the brooder room.
And helps them practice their cuddling.
She scoops the pony poop out of the big barn. The pony, who is like a third leg during the morning chores, mysteriously disappears during this process. Go figure.
She even puts the poop right into the compost pile. Imagine a child who puts things right where they belong without even being asked to, ordered to, threatened, or bribed. More magical than Disney.
Then, before she leaves the barnyard, she gives Bruno a big hug. He needs it. He deserves it. Basically, he’s just too fluffy not to hug.
Back to the house she goes with the dog food scoop, the egg basket, and the milk pail.
But the work’s not over yet. No, sirree. There’s still the milk to be strained.
And put in the farm fridge.
The eggs are to be sorted and set into the egg drawer. The farm girl doesn’t have to wipe and put chicken eggs in cartons as she has younger brothers who will beg for the chance to do it in exchange for 2 minutes of computer time per carton. Don’t let anyone tell you the technology age isn’t a blessing.
But she does set the guinea eggs in a carton kept on top of the fridge. Soon they will be incubated this spring and keets sold to people who have lots of ticks and lots of tolerance for noise.
Whew! Are you tired yet? Because she’s not. And she’s only 9 years old. And she will do it all over again tomorrow. And she might even cry on the days when I don’t have to work and she wakes to find that I have done the morning chores without her.
She won’t complain when it’s too cold. Or too hot. Or the mud is 2 inches deep. Or the wind blows straw into her eyes. That’s the heart of a farm girl.
But, of course, you don’t have to be just the right child, born in just the right place, in order to handle the morning chores.
Some kids do their own laundry.
Or cook breakfast.
Or hang shelves.
Because they can, if you just let them. Because sometimes a job well done is a reward unto itself. Because it feels good to be a family member, instead of just a dependent. Because everyone wants to walk strong and smart and confident in this world. Because deep down, every child deserves the satisfaction of being a farm girl.