Morning Farm Chores with Love
She puts on her coat, the favorite one that mom tells her not to wear. Her boots with yesterday’s mud go on next, then gloves. She doesn’t like the heavy ones that keep her hands warm. It’s too hard to work in those. But below zero temperatures force her into them.
She grapples with the door handle and is finally released into the crisp morning air. She pulls the hood tight around her blonde locks as the cold seeps around her.
Nine years old, yet a partner in the family.
She knows the animals need to be taken care of and when everyone can’t, she can. Sometimes she grumbles and complains, but deep down she knows she’s needed. Mom calls her a cornerstone because somewhere in the Bible it says daughters are like cornerstones. She likes to hear that, but really she just wants the animals to be safe.
As she greets the goats, they look at her with unblinking eyes, jumping on her in their welcoming way. She giggles and gently muses with them as her gloved fingers frustrate the clasps on their ties. This is why she doesn’t like the warm gloves!
Finally they are tied and she lets them eat their breakfast, full on molasses and other goaty treats. Mr. Ed, the old horse, sticks his head way over his stall and tries to steal a little nibble of their grain. Yours is coming, Ed. Be patient!
She has learned all the rhythms of the animals, knows their quirks, their ways, their language. They respond in ways only animals can, and she hears.
The ice has formed across the water, taking the shovel she lays the perfect whack and watches as the water seeps across the top. Staring at it for a moment, she loves the way it curls and flows and wanders, making beautiful patterns in the ice.
The goats’ impatient noises float from the barn, so she hurries with her ice-breaking task. The kittens flit around her feet as she walks to the chicken house, and she laughs at their antics, pulling her hood a little tighter.
Wishing winter was shorter, yet loving the snow, she finds herself grateful. Mom says that winter helps us appreciate spring more, and she supposes so, but the snow is too much fun to play in!
Oh, if it could be 70 degrees with snow!
The chickens run to the door when they see her, gently squawking a good morning. Her favorite one, Brodey, runs to her and she picks her up. The Rhode Island Red is beautiful, perfectly brown, perfectly red, even if the judge didn’t like her at the fair. She doesn’t care, to this girl she is perfect.
The hen, remembering her training, perches on her arm as the feeders get filled and the nests get checked. Brodey is hungry, so jumps down to join her feathered friends.
Saying goodbye, the girl runs back to release the goats. She lingers a bit, enjoying their nibbles and kisses. They trust her, love her, don’t run away like prey animals do.
She thinks about what her mom says, about how being out here builds character, a work ethic, and trust, but she doesn’t really know about all that. She just loves these animals. The cold is hard, as it clings to her face, her hands, her toes, but the work is not.
It’s love that brings her out here.
The animals can always count on her. Her mom can always count on her.
She ponders this cornerstone idea and wonders.