Yesterday was dark and gray. As Thomas and I drove to his appointment in town we decided that the woods looked mysterious. The hollow and the creek we drive through looked as if Frodo and Gandalf could be having a chat in there, cooking up some sausages and mushrooms, smoking on their pipes in those mysterious woods.
I do enjoy gray days. The colors are so beautiful. Rain came down hard in the morning yesterday so I availed myself and Coco of our new covered milking area. The guys did such a good job. Of course I prefer milking by the back door on the little concrete pad, but it won't work on a rainy day.
So the day was gray yesterday, but this morning the sun rises bright orange. The three wild geese are back at the pond and squawking. The rouen ducks are ignoring them and pretending that they can swim anywhere in the pond they want, and who cares about big old geese, three times their size. Lily and Daisy, our white geese, are hanging out in the chicken yard, I wonder why they don't go over to say hello?
I like to look around the farm in the morning. It is sweet to watch the goats stretch and slowly but surely stand up on their sleepy feet. The sheep are up a bit earlier. We know the roosters have been awake for ages. They occasionally crow at 3and 4 in the morning.
Julie and Allen came in for a visit yesterday evening, right as I was milking Coco. They came bearing gifts for Patrick, a box of week old chicks that hatched out in Emily's class at school, and another box of big guys several weeks old. Patrick has been hoping to expand the egg production on the farm and it looks like we are in business. The chicken flock decreased down to around 40 this winter, and at least 10 of those birds are old gals who don't lay eggs as often as they used to. Layers need to be around 6 months old before they start laying, so we will hope for a nice boost in egg production early fall and especially next spring.
So much of farming has to do with delayed gratification. The cows must be bred to have a calf to produce milk. Gestation is 9 months. So by the time you get a cow, get her bred, and wait for the baby to get the first milk, you can wait ONE year or more before you make your first pound of butter. If you want to raise your own meat off of beef born on the farm, especially if it is grass-finished and you hope to reach a nice size, that takes almost two years.
Goats and most sheep are seasonal breeders, breeding when the days shorten and temperatures drop. Five months gestation for those little babies. To get milk from the goats they must reach a certain age, usually two years old.
I haven't even begun to mention soil improvements or gardening.
Philip would talk about delayed gratification with the kids. Talk about how it was a great way to build character. Of course we would all laugh a bit, as everyone knows that this principle didn't apply to chocolate left out in the open! Or even to chocolate not very smartly hidden!
Well, I hear the chirruping of little chicks in the dining room, now over 50 of them, and I think today we will move them out to the barn. They are getting big enough to hop onto the side of their trough home and before you know it, will be fluttering around the house, and I don't think I can deal with that. They still need to be protected from the temperature changes for another three weeks, then they will be released to the pasture with the electric net. Future Egg Layers of America. Teeny little fluffballs of destiny. Egg layers, fertilizer machines, and a few meals of chicken curry (destined for the extra stray roosters) all chirruping in our dining room right now.
I also hear Coco mooing at me by the backdoor. She says if I delay her gratification of receiving her morning meal much longer she will have something to say about that. Better go milk! Oh, yeay! Julie is here! She will help make butter today.