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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Colors of the fog

Yesterday, Little man's father woke me shortly after 5:00 a.m. as he prepared to leave for his off-farm job to let me know that he had taken care of the household chores, but the animals still needed tending to.  The air was thick and soupy over the farm this morning and the light was more white than grey as I headed outside. 

Warmth radiates from the meat birds as I reach into their tractor to retrieve their waterer - they need to be moved into a larger tractor this week if we are going to get them to weight before the end of September.  'Teenage' pullets and roosters scatter as I approach the second tractor, they want little to do with humans especially when you aren't carrying a bucket.  Adult birds ready to be migrated into the 'big girl' coop occupy the third tractor, they show mild interest; however, empty hands mean no treats so they return to their scratching and primping as I pass. 

Drawing courtesy of

Sounds of the world start to penetrate the fog - snuffles from the newest member of the farm carry through the grey from across the driveway, water bottles click as rabbits wake from their slumber, the big girls hearing me outside stretch their wings as they exit the coop and wait for me to open the gate to their pen.  Still early, the chickens will have to wait until after the hour of the fox's rounds before being set free to wander the farm for the day.  It is hard to believe that a fox has a schedule, but Little man's father and I see him faithfully each morning between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m.  He is rarely seen at any other time and so far we have been fortunate that our birds do not appear to have been bothered by him.  Our neighbor hasn't been so lucky and has lost seven or eight birds already this summer.  We have good roosters and I am certain that contributes to the health and safety of the flock.

Waterers filled and birds and bunnies appearing satisfied, I set across the yard through the now slightly pink fog as the sun begins its ascent from behind the mountain.  Her pasture is just barely visible from 150 feet away; my footfalls and the crunch of the gravel under my eight plus two 5-gallon pails of water reveal my approach.  Snuffles and snorts rise up from the tall grass on the far side of the pen where she has made her nest for the evening.  I change out her water and replenish ten gallons in her basin.  The desire for fresh food or water must be much less appetizing then the comfort of her spot, she remains nestled as I return to the house.

WMF became home to a rescue pig this week.  She is a four year old Gloucester Old Spot heritage breed pig - the kind of pig I have wanted since I returned to Vermont and considered raising pigs.  She didn't come with papers so we will not be registering her, but I am happy to have her with us just the same.  We are hoping to get at least one, possibly two farrowings from her before she stops breeding to keep the farm in pork and possibly for a little extra income.  Raised primarily on scraps she will not need supplemental grain unless Little man's father leaves his restaurant job and the restaurant who has been feeding her for the past year stops allowing us to collect their food waste.  Before December we will need to line up a boyfriend for her to ensure we have a spring farrowing.

In the garage the baby monitor continues to emit only white noise so I set about refilling water buckets for when we return to the farm later tonight after market and check on the status of feed and scraps for today and tomorrow morning.  Satisfied with the supplies on hand, I double-check for any ailments and head back into the house.  The barn is only now becoming visible across the yard as the grey-pink air seems to change to a muted purple.

My attention turns to the inside critters, water bowls cleaned and refilled, feed dishes filled.  My lunch is prepared and put into my cooler.  Coffee is placed into a thermal mug to keep it warm as the coffee pot's automatic shut off is about the engage and the dark, life-giving liquid will certainly be cold by the time I am ready to leave.  On to a shower to wash off the accumulation of dirt and sweat from morning chores.  Exiting the shower, Little man wakes and begins telling the tales of his dreams and what he plans on having for breakfast.

The last thirty minutes before leaving the farm pass in a blur as I open the chicken pen along the way to the car with cooler, diaper bag, child, coffee and keys in hand.  Heading out of the driveway the headlights reflect a faded yellow against the ever so slowly dissipating fog.  The tops of the Chirstmas trees poke out from among the tall grass, yet one more chore that will need to be done before the snow flies.  Little man waves his cup of cool milk and hollers, 'Bye bye Pig!' as he goes to child care and I head to my off farm job.

And to think - I used to fly out of bed, check my messages while brushing my teeth and showering then run out the door to the big city in a fog of car exhaust.  I am much happier in this morning's kind of fog.