In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

first day with chickens and goats

This morning I heard the first crow of the rooster at about 5:15. What an excellent sound. Chevron is very good at crowing. Unlike some roosters I have known, he did not crow all night long, expecting the sun to come up early as a result. He knows that the world does not spin at his beck and call. Instead, he crowed as the sky was beginning to lighten. He is that rare thing, a modest rooster, but diligent in his responsibilities.

I lay in bed and rehearsed my own new responsibilities. I wished they were as familiar to me as Chevron's are to him. But I told myself I would just have to bumble and stumble my way through them a few times and they would become easier. I got up and got the right amount of feed for Molly out of the shed, then a warm, damp cloth and the milk pail, and I was ready to go with my first ever milking. It is a lovely thing to be on the cusp of a new life experience.

Molly came from the shed willingly not out of any affection for me -- we are barely acquaintances yet -- but because of the feed I put in the trough of her milking stand. After she got herself on the platform I closed the wooden bars that keep her head forward and felt quite proud of myself. I washed her teats and udder with the warm damp cloth and felt that everything was going smoothly.

Then I started milking. But nothing came out. Not even a first tiny drop. Her teats seemed full but then they deflated like little balloons when I tried to get a stream of milk. I must have been using my fingers all wrong, even though it seemed so easy when we were watching Mary yesterday and trying it ourselves. Now I could tell that Molly knew I was no Mary. After much futile effort I decided to ask for a second opinion. But Greg couldn't get a thing going, either. Meanwhile Molly, who is known for her placid nature, had become a bit annoyed with our awkward attempts. It is a humbling thing to be in the midst of a new life experience.

So we let her off the milking stand and eventually her kid, Heidi, began nursing. Heidi is the designated back-up plan for milking. She's as good at nursing as Chevron is at crowing. And I, a stranger who peers longingly over the farm fence, will try to breach that border again tomorrow.

Next door, in Egg Town, the hens laid six eggs yesterday. They were catching up with their laying, like stacked airplanes finally cleared for landing, all coming down one after the other. But then this morning there were none, at least not at six o'clock. I think they are laid back hens who lay eggs whenever they feel inspired and not according to some task-master's time clock.

The weather will be cool and blustery and rainy all day. The goats seem content to lie about inside their new dwelling and wander into the yard to butt each other and jump about in a subdued sort of way. The hens are milling about in their little pen, going first up the stairs then down again then back up, then back down, while Chevron wards off any possible danger by making his scary fierce sounds.


Piecefulafternoon said...

Sounds like a pretty good first day. What are you going to make with all those fresh eggs and milk?

Karen said...

I love egg town and the goat shed!... it all looks terrific on your little plot of land..I think you need some of your own!