Breakfast on the Ranch
Every morning starts the same. The sun rises, the alarm clock goes off, and the horses start banging on their stall doors ringing their version of the dinner bell... I guess I could call it the breakfast bell? I am led by this fixed moral compass - animals are fed first, I'm fed last. And that includes coffee. So there's my incentive for getting all the morning chores completed in the most efficient manner possible. At least that's what I tell myself. But alas, something always occurs to disrupt the efficiency. Between the horses and goats, someone is there to sabotage the carefully calculated plans I have laid out, which is the shortest route from chore completion to coffee.
I drag myself out of bed, measure 8 ounces of milk into 4 baby bottles, and place them in a bucket of hot water to warm them up for the baby goats. Now that the kids have turned 2 months old I get to start weaning them from 16 ounces 3 times a day to only twice a day per kid (breakfast and dinner). Meanwhile the cat meows her good morning and my loyal canine companion, Lilly, rolls belly up on the floor asking for a few more minutes of leisure. Picking up the bucket of steaming bottles, I head downstairs and into the barn. Hearing the barn door slide open, the horses lift their heads and whinny. No matter the hour, they always seem to say "what took you so long? We're starving here!"
Heading to the hay shed, my journey is accompanied by the wailing of the two baby goats. Ariel and Sebastian are like mice - they shrink through any sized gap to hone in on their target: milk, their version of white liquid gold. Meanwhile, the older goats look accusatory at me like "How dare they eat first!"
The new baby goats have proven entertaining for the older kids. They're often used like a pin ball machine, bouncing from one goat and then off of another one. I imagine the goats keeping score of who can richochet the babies farther with a head butt. Ariel and Sebastian don't seem to mind - they see it all as fun and games.
With the goat kids' assistance, I measure 5 pounds of grass hay for each horse from the large bale. Every time I look at my hay supply, I ask myself why I didn't spend the extra $100 for small bales. Oh how I miss the beautiful, convenient flakes already premeasured to the 5 pound standard! Feeding each horse 15-20 pounds of grass hay a day (divided into 3 feedings), my weigh scale is well used!
After distributing hay to the horses, I go back for another round to feed the goats. All the while, Ariel and Sebastian are chasing me down, bouncing off every obstacle in their way with a stylish twist in the air before colliding into me. After loading up on enough hay, I take a deep breath before entering the goat paddock. I brace myself as 11 fifty pound goats launch themselves up at me trying to reach the hay that I have lifted over my head. Leaning forward, I charge through the tangle of legs and heads, looking at the hay feeder just a few feet ahead. I feel like I'm wading through a war zone, each goat placed strategically to take me down. Could I design a more efficient way to feed the goats without getting run over? Absolutely! Will I do that anytime soon? Probably not. Why? Too much effort. A classic example of creating more work for myself due to laziness. After heaving the hay into the feeder, I silently congratulate myself on a mission accomplished without suffering too many hay casualities in the hailstorm of tripping hazards.
Last, but not least, Ariel and Sebastian are fed their bottles that have been sufficiently warmed up. While the kids start chugging down the milk, I can pause to take a breath and enjoy the morning. The sun cheerfully rising, the birds singing, and the steady crunching of animals relishing their breakfast.
So, there's a little glimpse of breakfast on the ranch. The phrase "day off" is like a fairy tale... I hear stories of it, but it doesn't really exist with livestock. Morning chores are repetitive, yet ever changing. I wouldn't trade it for the world! And I never miss a sunrise :)
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)