I find it interesting how people (usually of the city persuasion) romanticize country life. There is this idea of “Ah, the bucolic countryside. As the sun rises we’ll sit on our front porch sipping coffee and listening to the sounds of the world waking up around us.” I suppose that could be a potential morning, but in reality it’s usually more like this: (Keeping in mind that the Original Country Girl is married but childfree.)
4am the alarm is squealing, you have to get up, no snooze option here because like most homesteaders these days you work outside of your home. Drag yourself out of bed and stumble through the house to the bathroom, then tug on your “barn clothes” and head outside in the dark for morning chores. Get out to the barn and realize that the darn horse has let himself out of his stall AGAIN, (how does he do that!?)and in addition to letting himself out, he also opened the goat pen, the chicken coop, tipped over the feed bins, ripped into ten different bales of hay, spilled several water buckets, and pooped everywhere. In the process of ransacking the barn, the horse ate way more than his fair share of grain and now you are concerned about colic. Turn the horse out into the pasture and start cleaning up his mess, while peeking your head out every 5 minutes to keep an eye out for colicky behavior. Once the mess is cleaned up, start working on the normal chores, muck the horse’s stall and goat’s pen. Round up the chickens and shoo them out into the yard, empty and rinse all water buckets, refill and replace. (Still checking on the naughty horse every 5 minutes) Collect all the chicken’s eggs, stuff them into your pocket and hurry to the house. Slip in the mud/snow/ice (depending on the season) and in the process of catching yourself, crush 2 eggs in your pocket. Make it in the house dripping egg out of your pocket, put remaining eggs in the fridge and mop up your leaky egg mess. Fill the sink with warm water and bleach, grab the milking equipment you sterilized yesterday and run back out to the barn. Put grain on your milking stand and let the first goat in for milking. Clean the udder and start milking. All goes well until the goat gets a little impatient and stomps her foot, landing right in the milk bucket. Finish milking and toss the milk now that it’s flavored with goat foot. Fill the grain bucket on the milking stand and let the next goat in. (Still watching the horse) Milking success, no foot in the bucket this time! Pour the milk into your milk can, put it on ice and repeat til all goats are milked. Run the milk inside, strain it, container it, and put it in the fridge. Put milking equipment into the bleach water you prepared. It is now 5am and you have 20 minutes to finish up before you have to leave for work. Run back outside and make sure all the critters are settled, fed, and in the case of the naughty horse, acting normally. Give everyone their morning feed, (not the horse who’s had more than necessary already!) Close up the barn and run back into the house for a shower, change of clothes and something that passes as breakfast. Set milking equipment out to dry for evening milking. All seems well, but just in case call your neighbor and ask them to check on naughty horse and call you if he’s acting colicky, and then off you go to work!
Come home approximately 9 hours later.
Check on the naughty horse, and luckily he’s still acting normally so you lucked out this time. Head in the house and put your barn clothes back on. Round two of much the same as you did this morning. Feed, water, milk, check everyone over for injury or illness, gather any eggs, clean up messes, run back to the house. Take care of milk, put eggs in fridge, sterilize milking equipment for tomorrow. Clean yourself up a bit, and try to put together dinner. At this point you might just get to visit with your spouse/kids/friends while you eat dinner. After dinner it’s dishes, household chores, and last barn check of the night. 9:30pm collapse in bed exhausted and prepare to get up at 4am tomorrow and repeat!
This is just one of many possible scenarios. Other happenings can include animals in labor, injured or sick animals, injured or sick yourself or your spouse, downed fencing, 3 feet of snow to shovel, or rain. No, not every day is a disaster. But things do happen, and when they do go smoothly it’s truly a blessing. But hey, life is messy! Roll with the punches, this is life on the homestead!
Ah, life on the homestead. It is both invigorating and exhausting. It is generally not an easy life but for those of us who live it, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Oh, and that naughty horse? He’s still up to his old tricks…