The January thaw that usually only lasts for a couple days has lasted for a few weeks this year and we have been taking full advantage of the warm weekends. It has been a great time to get everyone’s pens deep cleaned before we plummet back into sub-zero temperatures. It was pretty exciting to have a blister on my hand mid-winter that wasn’t from a woodstove. That’s some good work! This Sunday was no exception.
Once the kids were down for their afternoon naps Mike and I headed to the barn. I was busy cleaning in the cow pen; we are going to have some great compost this year! I was happily running my pitch fork getting things all pretty for the herd while Mike was busy in the goat pen. I had the bigger area but he had the bigger job I would say. The ducks are doing quite well in the goat pen and not making nearly the water mess they could. They are however making themselves known. Mike spent a portion of time chipping the little ice rink out from around the mini stock tank. He then removed the tank and shoved Stinky Hank back into his own pen. His time with Scarlet was up. With any luck there will be some kids coming late spring! With everyone separated accordingly we were able to install the insulated tank my dad made. Talk about nice! Those are some spoiled goats!
I had the cow pen cleaned just as Mike was ready to start wheel barrowing out the goat pen cleanings. It was the same time that the cows remembered there was a fresh bag of alfalfa cubes in the barn and if they all line up to the rail there’s a good chance of getting a treat or two (or five if the Little Miss is feeding). This isn’t a big deal but to get to the winter heap we have to go through the cow pen. For the most part this is done without a second thought. The eager faces were quickly disappointed when the realized I was not going to be handing out and treats, but they were not moving. G.W. (the bull) has watched me take Sweet Caroline out of the pen a few times through that gate and he’s been pretty sure that that’s where he wants to head. Smart cow, he knows where the good stuff is kept.
Most mom’s I’ve talked to love their mini-vans. That’s…um…no. I don’t love our van. I appreciate that it holds the number of car seats and baby carriers that our family needs, it’s clean (as much as it can be with kids), I don’t have to do car-seat-yoga to get everyone in and buckled and it has been reliable. I get it… we need it at this point. That doesn’t mean I love it or even like it that much.
Mike went in to work about 2 am to start plowing. I was out to the barn shortly after 5, taking care of my chores and checking the snow to see what I was up against for drifts that morning. Not too bad, looked like a lot of powder. Nothing to be concerned about, so when Mike called and said he wasn’t going to make it home for breakfast as planned I wasn’t too worried that we weren’t going to be plowed out before I had to go to work.
After breakfast, putting in the pigtails that were insisted upon, brushing teeth and getting everyone bundled up for the cold we were out the door. Everyone was soon buckled in their assigned car seats and we were off. Hahaha. No. We were not off. We were spinning at 25 mph in reverse, going nowhere fast. With a little rocking I was able to back up enough to see there was no good reason for me to be not going anywhere.
Its official, I have to start wearing pants to the barn in the morning. I held out as long as I could. The time has come where my short summer night gown and long, fuzzy bathrobe is no match for the sub-zero temps and biting wind. Winter is once again here and my feelings for morning chores haven’t changed; they’re still my favorite. A bonus this winter is I’m not too pregnant for coveralls to fit!
The new hayloft gives some extra insulation over the cow pen despite the barn walls that are quite drafty. In fact after a good west wind everything has a heavy dusting of snow because the barn boards have weathered so much over the years. On the extra cold mornings the refuge of the barn is welcomed, as it’s always a few degrees warmer in there. When the mornings are warmed up to -15 in the barn pants are a good idea.
I turned around just in time to see the Little Boy slide out of the wheel barrow, barefoot on the gravel driveway. The wheel barrow was clean according the wheel barrow standards; it hadn’t carried manure in a few months and had been used elsewhere in the meantime. His jeans would need to be removed before he goes into the house, mud dried between his fingers and dirt from ear to ear. “Thank God we are able to raise our children out here.” I thought as I turned back to the Little Miss who was sitting on the tractor. She’s all about cows, tractors and baby dolls right now. There she was clothes speckled with dried mud from the duck pen, sand in her ponytail that was already falling apart (again) and a face that was looks like she was eating dirt not too long ago.
I know it’s crazy to be thankful for dirt behind the ears but we are. Did you know that most people forget to wash behind their ears? Not at our house! Our kids are very involved with our outdoor work. It starts with the baby carrier in the stroller and once they can walk they are on our heels… or somewhere close by. They are always encouraged to help even when their helping is not so helpful. I’m already talking up how much fun it is to stack square bales on the hay wagon in July. They are so excited to be big enough to help with that! Yes!! They really do enjoy helping with any task at hand. Especially tasks that require a hose and/or water, the ones that can get really messy. The trick is to keep them busy allowing them to explore but not too much (if that’s possible).