The first one to greet me, before I enter the barn, is the cat, Lil Bitty Kitty.
She lays right in front of the barn door and rolls over and over on her side waiting for me to open the door. As I step into the darkness of the barn I am engulfed by the earthy smells of hay, straw, feed and manure all mingled as one.. The inhabitants begin to stir. The heifer rises from her bed and the rooster, not really crowing, makes some cackling noises as if to say, "I heard you come in the door".
The first to receive my full attention is the beef heifer, May Bell (or as Henderson says, "Mabel"). May Bell has only been at Lil Bitty Farm for two weeks so she is still very shy. She is a cross-bred, which means she is a mixture of two breeds. Her mama was an Angus and daddy a Hereford. I open her pen door, grab her water bucket and go back outside to empty what remains in the bucket and refill it with fresh water from the newly installed yard hydrant. I put the full bucket of water back in her pen and then head to the feed box where I dish out a generous portion of feed for her and pour it into her feed trough. Then check her hay supply. If she needs more I cut open a fresh bale of alfalfa hay and fill her hay rack. Lastly, I scoop the messes that have been left behind since the last time I've been there.
The pigs aren't here right now, they will arrive in April or May. If they were here they would be starting to squeal about now. Funny how they don't make any noise til I start working on preparing their particular rations, then the squealing begins. The whole time I am moving about my routine the cat is either rubbing up against my leg or just "underfoot" in general, incessantly reminding me not to forget her and her ration. I don't want her to go hungry but I want her to be a little hungry as motivation to continue doing what she was brought here to do - control the rodent population. And she has done a very good job of that I must say. Occasionally I will inadvertently step on her foot and she lets out a sound that I have no idea how to discribe. The whole routine takes me about 15 minutes if I move with purpose, if I decide to dwaddle a little (which I like to do from time to time) it may take 25 or 30 minutes.
If I am working from home (which I usually am, in my woodshop) I will go down to the barn after lunch to gather the eggs. An average daily collection is approximately 4 dozen per day, some days more, some days less.
Just before supper time I repeat the above process. After supper I clean the eggs, crate them up and put them in the basement refrigerator awaiting future egg customers.. After dark I will return to the barn again to make sure all is well for the night and close the little chicken trap door so no marauding critters can enter the chicken coop during the night. I enjoy this little nightly trek (assuming the weather is cooperative), especially when it is full moon - and on the way back to the house I look up into the star-filled night and thank my Father for another good day here at Lil Bitty Farm.
To most people "chores" are a chore, but not for me, I rather like it. I like caring for the critters that God has entrusted to my care - maybe because it is a daily reminder of how my Heavenly Father cares for me. Every morning He comes to me with fresh nourishment. His love, grace, peace and faithfulness nourish and fill my soul each new day. And He also "cleans up my daily messes" when I come to Him in repentance. Thank you Father for this little farm that teaches me so much about you and your goodness to me.
Many agrarian blessings to you my friends. Stay well and warm.