Morning Chores

Harland is out of town for the next couple days, and so I’ll be taking care of the morning and evening chores. I have to get up earlier to do the morning ones, and that’s the hardest part, because usually I only have to get my lazy behind up, get ready for work, and take off. But this morning I was up at 6am. The cows need me.

6:00am: The alarm goes off. It plays some country song. Don’t remember what it was, but it was awful enough that I couldn’t go back to sleep.

6:05am: I’m up and in the bathroom.

6:07am: Kitty has been fed and is sitting regally on the back of the couch. I give her a hug, she gives me a dirty look. I’ve messed up her fur. I get dressed: worn out jeans, long sleeved shirt, and muck boots. I need my hooded sweatshirt as it is 37 degrees, but it’s out in my car where I left it last night. Before I leave, I put some cat-food in a bucket for our barn cats. Then I call my mother in law, Rita. She lives at the main farm about a mile up the road. I’ll be dropping in on her to give her her morning medication with breakfast, and I call to wake her up. Ring ring ring….no answer. I wait a few minutes and call again. Ring ring ring….no answer. She’s in her early 80s and a little hard of hearing.

6:09am: I grab a flashlight and head out the door to the car. It’s dark as the inside of a fish. I crank up the heat even though it’s only a mile up the road to the farm.

6:11am: I arrive at the farm and knock on Rita’s door. All her dogs bark at me, but that’s ok as I figure all the noise will help to get her up. Finally I hear her coming and she unlocks the door. Good mornings all around and I explain I’m here to take care of her medication. She says she’ll get breakfast around and be ready when I get back in a few minutes.

6:14am: I walk down the to where the pregnant cows are. They’ve spent the night eating hay, and I have to shoo them back out into the pasture for the day. We let our pregnant cows eat hay only at night. If they eat only at night, they are more likely to have their calves during the day when we are around to help if needed. Strange but true, and it works. As I approach with the flashlight in the dark, they look at me strangely.
“Hey, who’s the chick and what does she want?”
“I dunno, I’m gonna continue to lay here and ignore her.”
I wave my arms and let out a little holler to let them know I mean business. Most of them get to their feet and leave. All except 2. One is a young cow who feigns to the left. I call her bluff and block her path. Then she dodges to the right, but I’m all over her like a bad smell and block her. She gives up and heads out of the gate. Meanwhile, Dolly our half milk cow/half beef cow has gotten to her feet. She’s the only tame cow we have, and we can pet her. She figures she’s better than the other cows and doesn’t have to leave. I tell her to scoot. Luckily, she doesn’t choose to play “ring around the hay ring” this morning like she usually does to avoid leaving. After she is out, I close the gate. The girls will spend the day mostly resting, and doing a little grazing on the short spring grass.

6:28am: I walk to the grain shed and fill a 5 gallon bucket with grain for the young heifers(year old female cows). They will be turned out with the bull early this summer for some romance, but right now they are hanging about in the lot near the house. I call them over to the trough and feed them their morning grain. Then I get a little grain for the bull. He’s in a separate lot by himself. He tap dances around as I approach excited about breakfast. He settles down to vacuum it up and as soon as I give it to him. Then I head back to the grain shed to fill the bucket with grain again. This time it’s for the young cows and pregnant heifers back at our place.

6:40am: I put the bucket in my car and go back into Rita’s house. I feed her barn cats and then head into the house. She’s making her usual breakfast of oatmeal. I give her her morning meds, and a quick hug. I’m running late and dash back to my car. I’ll take time to chat with her tonight.

6:50am: I drive back to our house and up to the barn. I get out with the bucket of grain and let myself into the pasture through the gate where the young cows and their calves are. I give them their share of grain. Next, I go into the lot where the pregnant heifers(carrying their first calf) are. They get their share of grain, and while they are eating, I close the gate to their hay. They, like the cows up at the farm, only eat hay during the night. I close the gate behind me, and then head into the barn to feed our barn cats. Then I feed the “prisoner”. About a week ago, one of the heifers had her first calf, and decided she didn’t like the look of it. She refused to clean it, or let it nurse. She had a nasty habit of head-butting the poor thing and kicking it too. Bad cow. So we put her in a pen in the barn, put a halter on her and tied her to a post, and then put some hobbles on her back feet to stop the kicking. She’s been there ever since. Gradually day by day, she’s not kicking as much, and is becoming resigned to letting her calf nurse. Harland plans on releasing the prisoner this weekend, but for now we have to feed and water her twice daily. I remind her again that she can either take care of her calf, or she will be providing lots of steaks for our grill this summer. Our deep freeze is starting to get low.

7:00am: I walk from the barn back to the house. By now the sun is up, albeit behind the clouds. The birds are singing their morning tunes and I’ve actually broken a sweat in all my running around. I get ready for work.

7:37am: I say goodbye to Kitty. She’s staring down into the heat vent. I tell her to take care of the house. She continues to stare at the heat vent. She’ll spend the day sleeping and cleaning. It’s a rough life. I’m out the door. The drive to work is only about 11 miles and there’s no traffic. Ever.

7:55am: I arrive at work. I’m a customer service rep for a telecommunications company, which is a fancy way of saying I answer the phone. But I enjoy my job and work with some great people.

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