I love this quiet time of year. The way the snow muffles sounds and how the light sparkles across the landscape.
It's been a different sort of quiet this year. Emilio, who loves to use noisy power tools, left just before Christmas to take his family to Mexico for a month. Which means Goddy and I are doing all the feeding and cleaning. Well, Goddy is doing most of it and I help some. This is a good thing for me because I have a hard time getting out of the house on cold mornings.
However, when I do get out there, it's with such a feeling of joy and relief. Joy at being outside with useful work to do and relief at getting all the myriad layers on in the right order. I'm working on knitting a hat for each day of the week. I'm up to Thursday so far!
The walk down the driveway to the ranch opens up the vista of the mountains all around. By the time I'm heading down, the cows are fed and are munching contentedly out in the big pasture.
I head into the feed room in the main barn to get Empress's senior feed and supplements. On the way, I check out Hero and Falcon, making sure their legs are pointing in the right direction. Though you'd hope that if they weren't, Goddy would've raised the alarm.
The next port of call is the hay barn, where the cats are waiting for a hello and a scratch under the chin. They're eager for it, but there's a system here. You stand quietly or better yet, kneel down in the hay and they come in to rub against the back of your legs. Then it's ok to reach out and pet them. Except for Zena. She loves to be picked up and cuddled. An endearing quality, especially on days when hugs are necessary, such as when I got the call that my dad had passed away or the two dismal afternoons that we had to put horses down. Sitting on the grass with a cat purring on your knee is a great comfort.
After greeting the cats, I continue toward the stall where my horses' supplements are kept. The goats usually have their heads in their hay bin by this stage but will look up and bleat hello as the cats and I stride past.
Some mornings Danny, my mule, hollers as soon as he hears the feed buckets. Even if he doesn't shout at me to hurry up, he's always waiting at the gate.
Katie on the other hand, is pacing up and down the fence line, drooling and making strange little whimpers. She has some food issues, a remnant of being starved in a previous life.
They each get a scratch behind the ears, except for Empress who shies away. I like to give her the opportunity to be affectionate but it seems my efforts are wasted. At 30 years old, I doubt she's going to change much.
My favorite part of the morning chores is cleaning their pens. It's a good workout, it gives me a chance to observe some of the inner workings of my horses and stopping to pet them and breathe in their healthy smell is better than Tai Chi. Or so I imagine, since I've never actually done Tai Chi.
Walking home, the vista of the sky reminds me of how small I am in the scheme of things. This isn't a bad thing; if all people lived large lives, who would observe and appreciate their efforts?
How sweet it is to look to the horizon and say, "I will life up my eyes to the mountains; from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."