Going down to the barn in the grey of dawn before the sun peaks over the mountain, while the fog hangs in the orchard and frost covers the barn roof, isn't the most exciting proposition when I open my eyes in the morning. But, really, it is a wonderful thing. I put on my jacket, my muck boots and my gloves and head outside. Sedona and Kersey meet me outside the garage door.
The dogs are happiness incarnate. Sedona smiles from ear to ear with her tail doing a slow wag. She stands with one paw on my foot and leans into me for attention. And more attention. Kersey runs in a piggly wiggly squirming panting blur around us. As I start down the walkway into the orchard, they race ahead of me, checking on the chickens (safe in their pen) and looking for squirrel holes. I stop at the chicken pen and dump the contents of my pail of scraps for them. They attack the pear core, apple peel and extra waffles from yesterday's breakfast.
As I reach the barn, I see Jackson standing in his turnout with his head over the fence, watching me. His ears are pricked forward, his eyes are bright, and he is happy to see me. I call out a good morning to him as I step into the rabbit pen. They are waiting for me, front paws resting on the block that serves as their breakfast counter. I scatter a handful of treats on the cement block and they go to town, climbing over each other and the block in their eagerness to snag the choice pieces of dried fruit.
Then it's into the barn. Jackson and Flash both have their heads out their stall doors watching me head to the feed room where I will prepare their buckets of vitamins. I stop and kiss Jackson on the soft spot at the base of his ear. Normally, he has a wonderful horsey smell but this morning he just smells like the manure he uses as a pillow. Yech. The cat pokes her head over the top of her bed as I go into the feed room, and stretches. She won't actually get out of bed until I'm done with chores and have taken the dogs back up to the house.
When I take Jackson's bucket into his stall, he nudges me with his head towards his grain bin. Flash is even ruder. The minute his apple rolls out of the bucket into his bin, he dives down and grabs a bite of apple. I haven't even finished pouring out the contents.
Moving right along, I push the hay cart into the pasture. It's been pre-loaded the night before with flakes of hay by Brett so I don't have to mess with the hay shed (guaranteed to bring on an allergy attack). Flash comes out first, being the alpha horse. Jackson follows doing his snakey head while trotting. The donkeys move in to eat out of the last bin. Kalvin is waiting at the gate of his paddock, already chewing and licking his lips. No one loves hay more than Kalvin.
Mucking is a long process. I have to sift through the straw in Jackson's stall and find the piles of manure he has hidden there. Flash was a good boy and only pooped in his turnout. Three cart fulls later, I am done.
The dogs know the routine and are waiting for me, laying in the grass, next to the barn. We walk back to the house. After feeding them, I go to the goat area and open their shed. They pour out, baa-ing in excitement, and scatter. Bella and Bear go to the feeder and start in on the hay. Whiskey and Cowboy walk around eating leaves. Thistle touches noses with me before going over to the hay feeder.
Isn't that a happy way to start the day? I am so fortunate to be surrounded by animals who love life and who share that joie de vivre with me. It's contagious. I am smiling when I leave for work.
Tonight, I made us a simple dinner when I got home. It was dark and late and I was tired. I pan fried some trout, roasted a couple tomatoes and warmed some bread. And poured us each a glass of wine. Of course.
Life is good. Very, very good.