Up early on the Maine farm. Knowing animals inside the barn are waiting.
Part of your daily routine to hay, grain, water and clean out. When the weather agrees, turning the horses, cows outside to run is in the cards. But if freezing rain, northwest winds pick up, shelter is needed for the furry four legged farm friends.
As the barn door black wrought iron slide latch is lifted, the push forwards causes a familiar greeting creak.
And body heat from the animals inside the box and standing stalls hits you as warmer. Than the air temperature trudging through the new snow to do morning Maine farm chores was.
The ponies Sugar Daddy, Thunder and Frito closest to the door. Watching as you enter from the bright light of outdoors. Fiddling, groping in the dark for the overhead light switch. That when twisted, illuminates the long line of horse, cow and small animal stations. The big brown and black pair of eye animals are glad you are here. What kept you they wonder? Not like a dog jumping up and down glad. Not like a cat winding round and round your legs hoping for a can opener sound or a new bowl full of dry food. But humbly glad just the same because it’s meal time.
The animals in the Maine farm barn one by one get a few flakes of hay.
Stored in bales overhead the barn loft. Where you climb a wooded ladder to access the hay mow. And open a trap door, drop down the correct number of bales you will need to feed all the hay burning critters below.
The haying and graining done first. Before watering so the meal sticks to the animal’s insides. And does not just wash through their system. The frostless water valve for filling the bucket hanging in each standing or boxed stall does not work this cold morning. Frozen, because the red mercury as you rubbed your eyes this morning sunk to a new low. Recalling where in the glass thermometer it registered. When scanned, glanced at out the farm house kitchen window. While sampling the first fresh black coffee cup of the day. As you dress warmly, layered for farm barn chores.
No frustration sets in, watering just has to be done the hard way.
So get out the green long hose sections. Wade back to the Maine farm house some distance away from the barn. Whip off the hand knit mittens someone at church made you. Screw on, attach the first section of hose. Before bee lining through the white fluffy snow to the barn. Uncoiling several installments. To one by one water, fill up each pail to the brim.
As you do the morning chores, you are watched, studied.
You squeeze by each animal in a standing stall. Talk to them as you fill the manger. Give them a pat. Scratch behind the ear. To let them know “Good Morning”. Some like people kick, bite, require you to beware. Be careful. Draining the hose for watering when done. Coiling it, hanging it back up. Storing it for the next session if the heat tape you just plugged in does not thaw the frozen water line for more barn refreshment rounds that evening. For the another agriculture Maine farm adventure before bedtime. Early morning arrives before most people are up with this many head and just you playing the unplugged center farm stage solo.
The wheelbarrow from out behind the barn at the bottom of the ramp of planks. Used to climb the manure pile at high ramp speed. Getting a run for it when loaded and don’t veer off the stairway to Heaven. Two handed bouncing on the single front ribbed tire. Pushed back empty on the barn return flight. Through the back door to the stable. And parked, filled with a pitch fork at a time process to clean out the gutter trough behind each standing stall. Then wheeled into the box stalls to tidy up, perform “housekeeping”. Just without the plastic room card key tapping, foreign barely knows English voice like on a cruise ship door too early in the morning. The manure cleaned out replaced with new, fresh litter cedar shavings or golden straw bedding. The pile behind the barn you create rich, the finest kind natural fertilizer for the spring pasture and field dressing spread ritual.
All the time working thinking more and more often of the style of eggs you will have today.
Big orange yellow double yolk farm fresh ones plucked from under your own laying hens. Pondering the preserves you want today on your home made toast. Mentally preparing for cutting green peppers, onions, mushrooms to mix into your skillet home fries. Hearing the bacon or sausages sizzling. Getting ready in concert to fill the hole in your stomach from the morning farm chores heave ho, off to the barn you go exertion. The fresh Maine air on your farm work out where you know what you are eating. Where it comes from, how it was raised.
Maine, big state with the simple living, the space to enjoy a natural, wholesome uncomplicated lifestyle.