In the past I've had "chores" that took up large portions of my day: Milking cows, bottle-feeding calves, feeding pigs, tending chickens. There were times I'd have three or four cows to milk and a dozen bottle calves to feed.
At present I have two bottle calves: Every twelve hours I mix up their milk replacer, then go out and give them their bottles. While I'm out I feed the cats. In the evening I shut the chickens in to keep them safe from predators, and in the mornings I open the door that lets them out into the chicken pen. I don't spend a lot of time doing these things, but there is a huge bonus to doing outside chores in winter because it gets me out into the beauty of the night.
Without chores, I'd get out of bed, head for the computer, and stay there until Cliff wakes up, because you know how a computer can suck you in. But now I have no choice but to go out IN THE DARK twice a day to chore. Last night while I was out I admired the beauty of the full moon peeking through a layer of clouds. I heard a train whistling its way past and smiled when the coyotes started howling at the noise. I wonder why coyotes howl at trains. Seems like they howl more during a full moon, too.
The cats are getting along pretty well. Jake will actually eat out of the pan with the youngsters now. As for Mama Kitty, after her disappearance recently I found a spot, sort of a shelf, in one wing of the barn, where I put her dish. It lets her eat about four feet above the ground where no pesky kittens can bother her, and she loves it. If she's around when I go outside in the morning, she leads me to the spot, just in case I've forgotten where to feed her. I think she will never accept the kittens as friends, but now that she knows she is "special" enough to be fed apart from them, she seems satisfied.
The kittens: They feel their real home is in Cliff's shop, and Cliff is putting up with them pretty well, although if it weren't for Cora, who isn't here this week, I'd probably find a new home for them just because of the infringement on Cliff's space (he doesn't complain, he'd do anything to make Cora happy). They are using the litter box when they're in the shop, and I clean up after them. I remove them from the shop when it's being shut up for the night... Cliff doesn't like to touch cats, so it's my cats and my job. In the morning when the kittens see anybody going to open the shop, they are right at the door trying to squeeze in, and no force on earth can keep them from running in as soon as the door opens a crack. Just try pushing them back with a foot; the little brats won't be denied!
The calves are growing nicely, eating some grain now. Milk replacer is expensive: $34 for a bag that lasts about 10 days for one calf, and there are two of them here. The grandson is paying for his calf's milk, though. Still, to feed one calf to the age of eight weeks is over $200. If they seem to be ready to wean at that age, they'll be eating calf starter and hay, and that's a cheaper diet. Next spring they can live on a diet of pasture grass, at little expense to us. I'm enjoying them, looking forward to having plenty of beef next fall. AND appreciating the fact that they get me out and about and off the computer.
I found out yesterday that Arlo Guthrie is coming to Kansas City. You may recall I recently did a blog entry about him. I'm going to see him if I have to crawl! Maybe I'll tell Cliff to consider it my Christmas present, even though we don't do Christmas gifts much. Let's face it, if I want something, I get it for myself. However, he will have to escort me.
You know, I've loved folk music since the folk renaissance of the sixties. It's almost the only kind of music I listen to these days. It makes me wonder if I'm really a liberal left-winger at heart, because I don't know of a single folk singer who isn't left-wing and very vocal about it. In the old days, some of them were even communist, or accused of such. Pete Seeger, for one. Shouldn't I be uncomfortable listening to Utah Phillps' anti-war song "Enola Gay", when I truly believe Harry Truman had no choice but to drop that bomb? But I love the song! Even Burl Ives was blacklisted for his communist leanings in the 50's... you know, the guy that sings "Holly Jolly Christmas" in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
Well, I'm done probing my psyche for now. I have hungry calves to feed.