Archive for Thursday, September 14, 2006

Evening chores provide a gift

September 14, 2006

One evening last week after polishing off some deep-fat fried chicken from the local market with potato salad and baked beans left over from our Labor Day barbeque, it was time for my wife and I to tend the evening chores. I took a gander at the thermometer and it registered a perfect 70 degrees. As we walked the short distance to the barns, the ewes began their whining, while the mare whinnied her request for a legume and brome salad. The nearly full moon was rising just over the eastern tree line on this most gorgeous September evening.

There was a presence of fall in the air and in our minds after a long day of work. I found the barnyard the perfect place to unwind.

Many of us have had only a glimpse of this atmosphere from the road, the county fair or the historic old farm on Kill Creek. Some grew up wanting to leave such a place, having served their stock until they were bored and burned out. My grandparents and their parents were all children of the prairie and the farm. My wife shares this pioneering heritage.

The smells, the sounds and the views were all a symphony of natural and agricultural beauty I was blessed that evening to behold.

Recently, we acquired a heifer calf from a client whose cow met an untimely death after labor. Our client was not interested in bottle-feeding the cute little bovine, but we were -- especially my wife.

That night, I decided to feed Tinkerbell a bottle of milk substitute. She was eager to down that quart, so eager she raced out of her stall to meet me at the gate. By her suckle, she could have removed the paint from a tractor. She was hungry.

As the ewes were fed, the ram seemed more interested in his girlfriends than the hay. We had strapped his breeding harness on the week before and he now sported the color red to mark the ewe he serviced. It's a nifty system.

I thought once again of the cycle of life, knowing full well in about 150 days we'll be braving the cold of winter to lamb out the ewes.

It would be another year before Tinkerbell would carry her first calf, still our anticipation was beginning and the cycle of life began its introit.

The water troughs needed to be topped off before retiring back to the house and the good novel I left on the table. The only troubling thing about the water reserves was the healthy population of mosquitoes they encouraged every year. As the wife and I slapped our skin in hopes of becoming aces in the barnyard air war, the shelter of the home beckoned as the sun slipped low in the western sky.

I could hear the call of a barn owl hooting his presence and the cry of a coyote and his pack beginning to serenade the evening. Somehow, I felt the irresistible urge to hoot and bark back, but smiled in contentment in acknowledgement of my day's reward from on high.

What a privilege it is to unwind here on the farm far away from the noise of the city. My gratitude surely runs through the ink of this pen.

I hope you will take time this week to stop, look and listen. All of creation -- man and animal -- still looks pretty good over the fence of this barnyard.

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