I love sleep. The warmth of my bed, hugging my body tightly, wrapped in my comforter with ten pillows propping up various parts of my body. Sweet peaceful sleep.
But, I am a farmer and waking early is part of the job description. My husband wakes me every morning with a kiss on my forehead and a sweet “wake up baby”. Then, he lingers in the room, making sure I am awake. He makes his way down to the barn first and I follow about fifteen minutes later.
I walk to the barn in the dark. The path is worn and the moon lights the way. Our Florida sand glitters and our two catahoulas and four cats lead our little procession to the barn. As much as I love sleep, I enjoy our morning chores as well. I get a good morning hug and another kiss from husband and ask him what else needs tending to.
My favorite, as of this past week, has been checking on the baby rabbits. They are absolutely the cutest things on our farm right now.
From there I fill their water, replenish their hay and move on to preparing the water for washing the cows utters before milking. I set down my blanket to sit on and prepare the utter lotion and Mike goes to clean the cow stall and bring the cow. He feeds Teatime and gives her hay as well. While I wait, the cats gather on my sitting blanket and Daisy the catahoula lays down in the middle of the barn walkway, where she waits for Elsie, the cow. Leo, our oldest dog-child, does has rounds around the farm.
I hear the clinking of the gate chain and walk over to the stancion and wait for Elsie. It’s best to stay out of the way, she doesn’t understand what “easy” means haha.
I give her the spa treatment, while she eagerly munches on her morning hay and then we milk. Tag team from both sides because our inexperience with purchasing cows, got us here. We didn’t know about teet size and proportion and hers are, well small and uneven and she can only be milked by a machine and ours is not as powerful, so we have to hold the cups until proper suction is established. Usually about one minute.
This is when Lilly, my cat, climbs into my lap. She sits down and kneads at my legs, stomach and anything she can. She meows and walks around me and repeats. Elsie is done, Mike goes to open the gate and I wash her udders again and apply udder cream and release her from the stancion. Daisy waits for Elsie to pass and comes to lap up the milk we squirt out of each teet before milking. She doesn’t share with the cats! That is only her treat!
We gather the milk can and turn off all the light and make our way back to the house. Dogs first, us and followed by all the cats. The sky is beautiful and full of stars. Most mornings there is fog covers the pastures and behind us we hear our roosters crowing away.
I do love sleep, but such mornings make it worth while. After we process the milk, sanitize the equipment and I make Mike his lunch, I send him off to work, feed the dogs and cats and quietly slip back into my still warm bed.
At 7:30 I wake to get our daughter ready for school.