After the Storm: Livestock Bring Peace


A photo of Melissa Brooks SenesacAs I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve been ready for spring for over a month now. We started some seeds, which are doing remakably well compared to previous attempts at seed-starting (don’t get too excited, mostly just herbs, some hot peppers, and some tomatos to grow in the house). The little snow we had was melting fast, and I would say that half of our land was grass or spotty snow. Just last week I saw the first of the spring flowers popping up through the ground. I was getting excited for the girls who must be really looking forward to some nice fresh grass after all these months of hay and grain.

But, alas, we suffered a major set-back in this department yesterday when I awoke to a foot of wet snow on the ground and plenty more falling. We donned our winter gear and headed out to see if we could get the snowblower going. After ten minutes of frustration in the realization that the auger wouldn’t be able to handle the heavy, wet snow, we gave in, and I called in to work.

Though I wasn’t exactly psyched to get such a significant snowfall, I have to admit it was truly beautiful. After giving up on the snowblower and its deafening noise as it choked through the snow back to its parking spot, we headed to the barn to feed everyone an early breakfast. The sun hadn’t yet come up, and we enjoyed some quiet time before the world awoke.

The girls happily munched away at their breakfast of grain and some nice second-cut hay that we found at Guys Farm and Yard over in Morrisville a few days ago. The chickens scratched away at the ground, finding grain and bits of stuff we unearthed after cleaning out half of the old straw this past weekend. The pigs, in their own shed, grunted and squeeked through their mix of grain and food scraps.

There is something just so pleasant about the sound of contently eating farm animals. I think it is partially due to the frantic moments before everyone is fed, while everyone is demanding their breakfast, that we come to really appreciate the quiet afterwards. We rush to feed the pigs before their squealing could bother the neighbors, and we quickly feed the goats before we’re covered in hoof prints, then finally cast out grain for the chickens before they start trying to steal from the pigs and the goats. Once its all said and done, and everyone has fresh, clean water, we can sit back and enjoy the peace.

Our life doesn’t seem to lend itself to too many moments of peace. There is always laundry to do, dishes to wash, dogs to exercise, animals to feed, pigs to move from the barn to their shed, water buckets to fill, eggs to collect, reading/studying to do, goats to check on, home renovations to tackle, not to mention our full-time jobs. So, during these quiet moments before the sun comes up and the sense of urgency to get to work (in one sense or another) arises, we find a second to stand still, hold hands, and breathe deep.

3/8/2010 9:05:57 AM

@Cindy- thank you for your nice comment. I appreciate it. :) @Nebraska Dave- man that must have been nice! I try not to think of my student loans that I"ll be paying off for many years to come. :)

Cindy Murphy
3/5/2010 2:40:23 PM

Aren't those the best moments, Melissa. Those times when a small break in our routines allow us to just take a deep breath and take it all in, are one of life's little pleasures. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing. Cindy

Nebraska Dave
3/4/2010 5:04:08 PM

Melissa, there is something about the soothing sound of animals eating. Many mornings when I crawled out of bed before anyone else to trudge down to the barn and begin the process of milking 13 cows before breakfast and school, I would nod off listening to the contented sound of cows munching their grain as the machines chugged along slurping the milk from the udders. We separated the cream and sold it to the creamery in town and fed the skim milk to the hogs. I never saw hogs grow so fast. At the end of 8 months they were market ready and paid for a whole year of college. Back then a year of college cost $1500 dollars. That included a room in the dormitory and three meals a day except for Sunday night. What a deal that was. It was a lot of work but graduating with an associate two year college degree from Iowa State debt free made it all worth while. I never regretted getting only a two year degree. It spring boarded me into a 40 year career in the telecommunication industry. I now satisfy my farming urges by watching other people’s animals any where from a long haired Chihuahua to Arabian horses with Black Angus cattle in between. Usually a week or two will remind me that although the concept sounds fun the reality can become drudgery. I’m quite satisfied in my retirement to have the knowledge of how to care for animals but have none of my own. There are plenty of folks that are glad to have animal care person on retainer.

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