The kids and I have been enjoying getting out for farm chores right after breakfast. I don't even do the dishes anymore, since that tends to lead to just one more kitchen chore followed by another, meanwhile the kids start playing and don't want to stop and the morning get's later and later.I'm savoring the ease of our walk; in the daylight and unencumbered by snow and ice. As the kid's finish their breakfasts, I line up toothbrushes and vitamins on the counter and then coats, gloves and boots by the hallway. I begin humming our Come Follow song as we get dressed and we start singing as we head down to our milk room. We sing 'This is how we mix the grain, mix the grain, mix the grain, this is how we mix the grain so early in the morning" And then add other verses as go along. Avery mixes and rations out the grain for the young does - they get a handful, not much. The only reason they are getting any is so they will look forward to getting tied up at their tree and not rush the gate every time we go in and out. Noah helps me tie up the goats and bring the milkers in.
The kids started off milking with eight ounce jars and then moved up to pints. Today Noah milked into a quart. This has built up their confidence as they don't have a big pail to move out of the way of hooves that may suddenly step up and back down. Nor do they have to worry about aiming the milk into the narrow pail opening. They have been milking Zuri out completely while I milk Xanadu. We use to sing some rhyming songs together while I milked. Now, milking takes all their concentration. I'm still in the habit of starting up a song or two while milking, but I've noticed the kids don't join in anymore until they're done.
While we wait for the milkers to finish their grain, Avery and Noah measure out the grains, kelp and water for soaking for the next day. Then we haul water, toss hay and bring in a few armloads of firewood for the downstairs wood stove. Often we let out a couple does to join us on our walk. Today we let out all six does, but that can be more hectic and crazy getting everyone put away in a timely fashion. Also we have to decide whether to let the geese out or the goats, but the two species do not mix well at this time. Daisy and Dilly are now located off to the side of our driveway right in front of the house. As they are very social creatures, and I enjoy seeing them every time I poke my head out the door, and I can haul their water much easier now, it should be a good arrangement for all.
Mixing feed on the weekend with a little help.
This is one of my favorite songs to sing as we walk up the hill, especially when the geese are with us;
"My paddle's keen and bright, flashing with silver.
Swift as the wild good flight, dip, dip and swing.
Dip, dip and swing her back, flashing with silver.
Swift as the wild goose flight, dip dip and swing.
We also sing Birch Woman, Land of the Silver Birch and Mother Earth to you we're singing
all songs I included in my last post.
As of this past month Avery now has her very own pet chicken who she has named Elsa. We have fairly strict rules about naming animals that we may possibly eat someday. Generally we don't name anything we know we'll eat for sure like male goats or roosters. Then most hens only get to stick around for one to two years so they don't usually get named either. Noah named one ornamental Cochin, several summers ago, and she is still with us. Up until now Honey has been our only named hen. We will not be running a retirement chicken home. Elsa probably thinks she is very unlucky as she gets singled out, caught and carried about daily. Avery proceeds to carry her up the hill in her arms while I feed the bucks. They sit and swing together and then we walk back down and put Elsa away. Noah fills the chicken feeders, Avery usually gathers the eggs and I fill waters and guard doors.
New roofed chicken coop.
New layer flock. How many roosters do you see?
We sing "Spiraling into the Center" on our way down to the house. We each gather a load of wood to carry inside for our upstairs wood stove. When it gets colder and the wood chopping gets easier, I have ambitions for Noah and I to chop the wood together. Farm chores with these two just gets easier and easier. We make it through most mornings without tears or bickering.
Both the kids have been accompanying me on our farm chore routine since they were born. We've always had our ups and downs. Sometimes we've had friends help out with the milking in exchange for farm products. What has changed recently is that we are celebrating it. We are singing songs, playing games, smiling, laughing. I'm trying not to rush or urge the kids along as I use to. When they get inspired to do something else, or walk off the normal path to explore something, we now go with it.
I'm no longer concerned if the milk spills and we have to take ten extra minutes to mop the floor; I no longer have to come up with a certain amount of milk for shareholders- it's just whether I make cheese for ourselves or not that day. There were things I use to do because I could do them quicker without making as much of a mess, or I would do them to eliminate the fighting over each job that would ensue. Most importantly I'm trying to set a space where we not only get the chores done and the animals fed, but we enjoy doing so; we have quality time with each other and enjoy being outside. That being said, I'm already looking forward to the days when I can send these two out on their own to do chores while I stay inside and make breakfast.