Posted by: A Part of the Solution | October 12, 2011

A Day in the Life

5:50 am: Popping up like a vampire out of her coffin, I head into the kitchen and put water to boil in a three quart pot with a good lid. Down in the cellar, I grab 4 small, not very sound apples and a large soup bowl’s full of dry oatmeal from a fifty pound sack there. As the water comes to the boil, I throw chopped up apples and the oatmeal into it. I set a ten minute timer.

I run to check e-mails and Facebook notifications. That done, I splash water on my face, brush my hair and teeth and change into a long-sleeved shirt–the weather turned chilly and wet overnight. The timer dings downstairs. I hit the kitchen and turn off the heat under the piggies’ breakfast. I make the labels for the eggs going out today when we send our CSA orders to the warehouse over the state line in Maryland.

6:38: It’s pretty dark out, but I don’t need a lot of light to mix a couple pints of dry feed into the hot oatmeal. I add whey until the mixture is loose and cooler. The piglets have heard me and they’re grunting frantically in the lower level of the barn. I step over the wire carefully trying not to kick or step on any of the piggies milling excitedly around me and their feed bowls. I pour out the warm breakfast, trying not to dump it directly on anyone’s head–though they’re pretty determined to get in on the ground floor of breakfast and don’t seem to care one way or the other.

Next come turkeys. They need water top-ups and feed. This is easier to do when it’s light out. This is easier to do when it’s not raining. But this is a harvest day, so I’ll take every minute I can get and use it. That done, and the turkeys warbling contentedly over their morning feed, I head down the driveway where the dog is waiting patiently. Two of the barn cats choose to come with us. It’s the same walk every morning, along Morral Road to the corner between the fencing and the cornfield nearest to neighbor Dave’s house and back again. The cats complain about how far it is, but they do that whenever they come along.

7:25: I over easy a couple of eggs with meat scraps cooked in. Those go over kibble for the dog–Kaya, the cat–Buck, and the barn cats–Flopsy, Mopsy and Annabelle. The barn cats eat outside on the front porch. If we have lots of guests, they eat down in the barn where they aren’t made too nervous by the comings and goings of all the strange monkeys. Now I start breakfast for the people on the farm. Chocolate muffins and bacon and eggs sound easy to me. And hot food is very nice on a colder, wet day when we’ll be working out of doors.

8:45: One WWOOfer has taken care of the ‘back pigs’ morning feed , those we have out in pasture. The other WWOOFer did for the chickens, now sheltered around the home acres looking grumpy about the weather. We’re on to coffee as we outline what still needs to happen to get the harvest ready in a timely fashion. I start packing peppers as one WWOOFer sorts the chard and radishes into piles and the other cleans pumpkins. By 10:30 am, we’re putting tomatoes into brown paper bags and packing the shares. This is a new record for our CSA Wednesdays.

11:30: The Egg Lady (Hi Janet!) pulls up with the eggs we’ll send down to Community Garden Market in Berkeley Springs, WV. I write a check, we swap recipes and commiserate with each other over the poor laying of the chickens in this wet weather. I’m still waiting for the hens to produce two more eggs so that I can finish the last of the coolers going  down the hill this afternoon.

12:00: The piggies in the barn are delighted with a luncheon of curds, feed and whey stirred up together. The turkeys warble and chirp peacefully once I have their feed buckets and water dispensers all topped up. The chickens are outraged to see me handing out the food stuffs to everyone but them: pretending ignorance of the thirty-some odd pounds of compost-ready tomatoes sitting at the compost heap.

1:00: The eggs are packed, including the last two I need for the final dozen going down to CSA members. Now I can put together the bills of lading for our delivery people and send out e-mail notices to our commercial and soup kitchen accounts. I run through Facebook again, *Liking* and commenting where appropriate, especially on the farm’s page.

2:00: B&B overnight guests are expected this evening. I have plenty of time to dust every surface in the Extension, aka Spring Suite, check to see that our outgoing WWOOFer left the bathroom spotless (she always does, I have no fears in that respect), sweep the floors and the ceiling fan, shake out the floor rugs, and make the bed with our lovely organic cotton sheets and stock the bathroom with our fluffy bathrobes and generous towels (also all organic cotton). Our occasional handy-person will need to get out the screwdriver and hit a couple of problem doorknobs–but that’s only a few minutes’ work.

4:45: We like to feed the chickens two hours before sundown. So they’re all gathered around the upper coop when I come out with the feed and the oyster shell supplement to help their eggs keep a nice, sturdy thickness in the shell. Next I top up the turkeys. They’re somewhat fearful of me, even after all these months; but their interest in the feed outweighs their trepidation. Lastly, I do for the piggies. They’re as ecstatic as ever about feed mixed with curds and whey. Kaya and I take another walk together. This time, we’re accompanied by Buck whom we ran into as he hunted frogs down by the pond.

5:30: The B&B guests are running behind. No surprise, they’re coming from the DC area and the PM traffic there is notoriously bad. Our food-prep positive WWOOfer is on hand to help me shell lima beans, strain stock and git ‘er done in a timely fashion. We eat late on the farm. After all the animals have been fed and watered. The WWOOfer heads out to do for the back pigs before darkness falls. The farm manager took the CSA coolers down to the warehouse and added seeing his sweetie in Frederick on to the do list. He’ll be back soon, but we like for the pigs to keep to a regular schedule (you wouldn’t want a 650 lb pig to get anxious now, would you).

6:30: The guests have arrived. They’re repeat visitors and know where to put their things without lots of introductions and caveats from me. I set out a plate of vegetarian chopped liver and water crackers for an hors d’oeuvres. Our vegetarian guest will have lima beans for her main course; the rest of us will have hamburgers with the lima beans. We’ll also enjoy baked sweet potatoes, slow cooked kale and an apple crisp for dinner–once the farm manager is back from his afternoon delight.

6:55: It’s drizzling and time to shut the chickens in for the night. If the weather is nice, some of the low-status birds stay out as late as possible eating without being hassled by the high-status chickens, who like to grab premium roosting space early. I circle by the barn to ensure the piggies are bedded down happily. I cast an ear in the direction of the turkeys, but they’re all settled down and sleeping.

7:15: Time to eat and be charming to my guests. Our WWOOFer helps out with the dinner dishes. I decide not to try to squeeze any ironing in tonight, since I like to do that in front of the TV and I don’t think I should be watching TV instead of looking after my guests. We have a good catch-up about persons and places known to us both.

9:30: Time for bed. Morning gets here pretty early, and I want a few minutes to read a couple more pages in the  fat  historical fiction about the Plantagenets I’ve been wading through for the last month.

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