Friday, May 19, 2006

Good morning!

I woke up at 3:45 this morning and couldn't fall back asleep. As I noticed the sky start to lighten shortly before 5 a.m., I actually started to get excited about the prospect of today. The sky was a beautiful streaked pink and yellow. Unfortunately, by the time I got downstairs and got the camera, it didn't look nearly as nice. I took a few pictures of the sunrise from the kitchen door anyway, hoping some would be as beautiful as what I had seen earlier.

Many of our city friends think that since we now live on the farm, we always get up at the crack of dawn, and I can't help but chuckle when they say so. It is the American icon of the farmer walking out to the barn with the sun barely peaking over the horizon, but we haven't figured out a reason that we need to get up that early every day. I can understand why dairy farmers did that 100 years ago. Their milk was delivered fresh to homes every morning in time for breakfast, so the cows had to be milked early in the morning. The important thing about milking though, is that you do it every 12 hours. Our goats don't care if we milk them at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. or 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. -- as long as they don't have to wait more than 12 hours between milkings. If we are running late in the evening, they walk up to the fence and start yelling at us to hurry up.

I couldn't fall back asleep this morning, because we have a very busy weekend coming up. This afternoon we leave for a goat show that is being held two hours away on Saturday and Sunday. Last year, we left home at 5 a.m., meaning we did get up at 4 a.m. that morning, so we wouldn't be late checking in for the show. This year, we've been saying that we're going to go on Friday so that we can sleep late. I have my doubts about sleeping though, because we would be sleeping in the barn with the goats, and the nightly lows have been in the 40s. I know I can't sleep when it's that cold, so we need to discuss a Plan B!

On Sunday, my daughter will stay at the goat show and continue to show the goats, while my husband and I will go to the Garfield Farm Rare Breed Show in LaFox, Illinois. It is always a lot of fun, and it reminds me of where I first got the crazy idea of moving out to the country to raise rare breeds of livestock. I was a reporter at the Kane County Chronicle when I first attended the show in 1999. I was completely enamored with the livestock I saw there, and I wanted to do something to make sure these very useful animals continued to live on this planet. Since factory farms use only one breed of animal for a particular purpose -- the white leghorn chicken for egg production, for example (because they produce the most eggs on the least feed), or a Cornish-Rock cross for meat production (because they grow the fastest) -- it leaves hundreds of other breeds to slowly die out. The beauty of heritage chickens is that they grow at a moderate rate, and they are good egg layers. I could write about this all day, but if you want to know more, check out Garfield's Web site and especially the page on the Rare Breed Show.

I've already made chocolate chip muffins and the timer just went off for the bran muffins. Now it's time to wake up the kids and get to the regular chores on the homestead today. Yesterday, Margaret clipped 10 goats for the upcoming show. She has another 11 to go!

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