When I was a kid working on my Grandpa’s farm the first thing we did in the morning was milk the cows. This was before dawn, of course. Then we would carry the milk pails, which I could barely lift until I was 10 or so, up to the house. Then we’d go harness up the horses (in the early days) or bring up the tractors (later). Meanwhile someone else would have fed the chickens and gathered the eggs. After the morning chores were all done, we’d have a big country breakfast. After that we’d head to the fields, so that we’d be there by the time it was light enough to see.
40 years later, mornings aren’t quite so busy here on White Flint, but there are still chores to do. First I let the chickens out. We lock them up securely in their henhouse at night, but open the door and gate during the day to let them free range. The new chicks have made the move from barn stall/brood room to henhouse, and they’ve adjusted to the cold.
Here’s one of our new roosters. He hasn’t yet acquired a name.
Next I rake the coals and add wood to the heater. We heat our house with an outdoor wood boiler that is located in our equipment shed. It is probably the best thing we added to the farm. It saves us a ton of money and allows us to heat our home sustainably, with a renewable energy source. We have lots of woods on the farm and there are always fallen trees and limbs to convert to firewood.
Then I feed the goats. They don’t really need to be fed, but I give them a little bit of sweet feed mixed with minerals to supplement their diet while they are lactating or soon to give birth. Only the nannies who are nursing or who are due within the next 30 days get the grain. They only get a mouthful but they love it so much it helps train them to come up and helps tame them.
Recently Cherie starting giving them sunflower seeds. This has turned out to work even better than the sweet feed. They love the seeds and even the shyest goat will take them out of our hands. It’s a very good way to train and tame them.
Then its back to the house for coffee. The Timm family feeds Joey, our Great Pyrennes guard dog who lives with the young goats in another pasture, so I no longer have that as part of my morning chores. Of course there are sometimes other minor chores to be done. If the ground is covered with snow, for example, I have to carry hay to the pastures or if the waterers are frozen I have to break the ice.
There are days I really don’t want to go out into the rain or the frigid cold to do the chores, but I always feel good once I’m outside. I love the rhythm that comes with caring for the farm (but I don’t miss milking cows).