Sunday, July 24, 2011

How To Start the Day

My mother's old blue egg bowl, some garden herbs, a bit of Jarlsburg...
Up early to do the farm chores. The sky is tinged pink along the horizon. The low lying clouds look like a row of raggedy, gray-clad immigrants crossing over the mountain tops. I fit the bucket under the water pipe near the henhouse and while it fills I listen to the hens murmur and the roosters crawk. They know that running water signifies breakfast. I unlatch the door and step in. It's instant bedlam. I am knee deep in feathers and frenzy as 50 fowl jockey for a place along the two long feeding troughs. One hen perches on the edge of the water bucket, three others fly at me as I bend to scoop the feed from the galvanized metal pail. I murmur to them, pour their feed, and while they're busy gobbling I check the nests for eggs. I must be careful - yesterday there was a rat eating the very egg my hand was reaching for. Startled, I squawked like a hen and it leaped for a hole below the nesting box. Some steel wool stuffed in that hole and a new board nailed over in place of the old one will keep the wily rat at bay for a while. I feel a bit like Mr. Zuckerman trying to keep Templeton out of the barn.

When the chickens are fed and watered I move to the outlying small houses where ducklings, for-meat-only chicks and a bunny are waiting for their breakfast. I scoop feed and pour water and talk to them in a high voice that makes me smile - humans have a tendency to raise the pitch of their voice when talking to babies of any kind. The pigs grunt at me as I fill their trough. Yesterday they dug under their fence and went a-wandering but a few bangs on their metal food bin bring them home again.

I walk home through the secret path, a walkway that threads through some large maples with overhanging branches between the farm and my cottage. My hands are dirty, my muck boots need a bath and I'm covered in a fine film of sweat. Our 100 degree days have been endng in 80 degree nights. The morning air is warm and damp and the sun is just beginning to peer over the cloud bank. My reward for doing the chores is a small basket of fresh eggs. I stop by the kitchen garden to snip some fresh herbs. Now to my own breakfast!

Fresh eggs with herbs and beat greens and a bowl of fresh fruit.

12 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

It is so nice to eat what you have labored for.

Brian Miller said...

bet that is a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast knowing you had a hand in it...peaceful too to walk among the animals and nature...

Molly said...

You might as well have bundled me into the old Morris Minor and driven me back through time to my Granny's!
I was there, walking the secret path with you. Wish I was there to have fresh-from-the-chicken eggs and toast and fruit with you!
Perfect post for a Sunday morning...

Judith said...

Now I have to go look up Mr. Zuckerman and Templeton!
Glad the pigs have stayed home for a change ---

Judith said...

Aha!

You are to be found in only the very finest books!

Friko said...

You can make feeding the hens into an adventure.
I love your writing.

Barbara Shallue said...

What a wonderful morning! Thank you for taking us along - I felt I was right there with you!

Pauline said...

OOTP - work and pleasure should go hand in hand...

Brian M - I'm not sure feeding chickens can be called a peaceful activity - they are pushy, flapping, squawking, pecking dervishes, constantly shoving each other out of the way. Wading through the flock is tantamount to walking through a ground tornado!

Molly - next time I'm in sunny FL I will call you! Meanwhile, the door here is always open :)

Judith - it's a very Charlotte's Web-ian sort of farm.

Thanks, Friko - it IS an adventure! This morning the sheep followed me into the hen house. Talk about bedlam!

Barbara - I wish you had been. I could have used the help ;)

Reya Mellicker said...

You're so brave to reach in and grab the eggs. RAts! Yikes. Sounds like a wonderful summer though, in spite of the rat.

Peter Bryenton said...

Well there's a use for steel wool I'd never before encountered.

Pauline said...

Reya - it scurried away. When I was a child we could not keep rats out of our henhouses either. They love eggs!

B - they don't like to chew the stuff. Works for mice, too!

Hilary said...

A breakfast adventure. You make it sound magical. And to top off the magic for me, I have that identical bowel (and a few other sizes as well).. also from my mother. They're probably older than I am because I don't remember ever not having them.