I mixed a bottle of milk for the hungry calf, then pulled on three layers, wool socks, a down jacket and my big rubber muck boots before heading out. The sun was just peeking up from behind the hills, backlighting the shed and throwing long shadows.
I fed the calf his bottle, but because he drank it so fast, he didn't realize he was full. He bawled, asking for more so I offered him my finger, which he sucked on eagerly. A calf's mouth is warm and slick and he can pull a ring right off of your finger if you aren't careful.
Next, Luke ran over to wake up Rex, who was pretty grumpy about coming out into such a cold morning from his warm, hay-filled house. But, I walked down to the creek, and broke some ice to give him a drink of water, and then carried a bucket full back to the calf, who is just learning to drink it.
The steers saw all the commotion and came running for their breakfast. I carried a five gallon bucket of mixed grains out to them and poured it in their trough.
A few of the chickens wandered over to eat what the steers spilled, but most of them were still trying to decide whether or not to step out into the cold morning.
I walked up the hill to the hen house. Some of the chickens were lined up on the south side, in the sun, but several were still huddled on the roost. I checked the nest boxes for eggs and found fourteen. I gathered them so they wouldn't freeze.
Then, back down to the creek with two buckets to fill. That water was poured into the chicken waterer which is set on a heated ring so the water won't freeze. The chickens were glad to see it and hopped up for their morning sip.
That took care of all the morning chores. I stood in the hen house listening to the hens chuckle and purr. They make such lovely morning sounds. Then the two roosters decided it was time for a crowing contest. The oldest one crows tenor, while the youngest crows bass.
I opened a window in the henhouse, so the sun could shine through and then headed back to my own house. The sun had risen above the gap and the house glowed in the brightening day.
When I got back inside, I backed up to the woodstove until I had thawed completely. The cat watched for a while and then curled back up for a nap. I think it's time for me to do the same.
This afternoon, I'll do it all again.