Monday, March 27, 2006

Barn cleaning

Yesterday when it became obvious that the temperatures would be in the 50s, it was equally obvious that it was time to work in the barn. During the winter, the barn becomes a mess because it is so cold, no one does much more than is absolutely necessary. The animals are fed and watered, but hardly anyone takes the extra time to throw away feed bags or clean up after themselves in the storeroom. When everyone got home from church yesterday afternoon, we had a quick lunch and set to work.

Katherine spent most of the day mucking out stalls -- in other words, she shoveled up manure and soiled straw, put it into the wheelbarrow, then rolled the wheelbarrow out to the various trees and shrubs whose mulch disintegrated over the winter. Once all the trees were mulched, she started a new pile that will rot and turn into garden gold (AKA compost). By the end of the day, she had cleaned out three large stalls, as well as the milking parlor.

Mike also worked on the milking parlor. There was an area on the end, where the concrete ended before the wall started, and mice quickly decided that this was their buffet! In other words, the floor on one end of the milking parlor was dirt, rather than concrete, and the mice burrowed their way into the milking parlor. They would get into the goat's grain and minerals, leave mouse dropping all over the place, and they multiplied rapidly. Mouse traps couldn't catch them fast enough, and then the little geniuses buried the mouse traps! So, Mike shoveled out several inches of dirt yesterday and filled it with concrete! I've lived out here long enough to know better than to prematurely declare us the winners in any animal conflict, but I do hope that we don't see any more mice in the milking parlor.

Margaret helped me deworm the sheep, and she did a few other chores to help everyone else. She was moving a little slowly though, because she's getting over a cold. She and Katherine also mixed up about 100 pounds of goat grain.

Jonathan also did a few little things in the barn, but his biggest contribution was cooking dinner. He made penne alfredo with broccoli for the vegetarians, and he kept an eye on the stewing hen that I had put on the stove earlier in the day, and when it was cooked, he stripped off the meat. When I came inside in the evening, I quickly whipped up a batch of dumplings and added them to the pot.

I spent most of my time working on the storeroom. The floor and counter were covered with "stuff" and very dusty and dirty, so I spent the afternoon cleaning up all of that, and it's really thrilling to see such a huge improvement at the end of the day. I can hardly think of anything else that gives me as much joy as working on the farm. It feels so real, so genuine, so necessary, so important. There were moments yesterday when I felt happier than I could ever describe. It was hard to stop and come inside when the sun went down. After dinner, we played a card game called "Oh, Pshaw!" where I came in dead last. Then I went to bed and fell asleep very quickly after my head hit the pillow -- once again proving that good, honest work is the best cure in the world for insomnia!

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