Christmas on the Farm

Today’s post comes from Ben.

It’s the Holiday season. And the season might last over several days; that’s how it works in our family. The immediate family Christmas, then Christmas with one side, then the other, and somewhere in there our family too.

Growing up, Christmas eve, we’d open presents after milking, then go to midnight service. I could never get out of the barn fast enough at night to open presents.

When we took over the farm, Christmas Eve was with Kelly’s family and we’d be the last ones there after milking.

But those nights in the barn, I clearly remember Christmas Eve being a special time down there. I tried to be extra nice to the girls; a little extra hay and a scratch on the head for each of them. The barn was a cozy place at night. It’s warm from the cow bodies, in fact we needed exhaust fans or it would get too humid from them breathing. So it was always a nice warm place in the barn. By the time I finished milking, got the equipment washed up and got them fed, most of them were laying down and they were comfortable, and it was just very nice.  

Walking to the house in the winter with the yardlight and all the usual noises of cattle or pumps running, was nice. It was just a good feeling.

All that taught me the animals should come first; it’s our responsibility to them.

I do my chicken chores first thing in the morning and it’s similar that there’s more chores in the winter than summer. Make sure they have water, break ice or get fresh as needed. Refill feeders. Bedding isn’t really an issue as it lasts a long time for chickens.

And once / week refill the bird feeders too. Do that before I get my breakfast.

With the cold temps, but no snow, the springs in the swamp are still running, it’s making an ice path that we can’t usually see.

A little too rough for skating, but interesting to see.

End of the year coming up fast. I’ll be recording mileage and hours on all the vehicles and tractors (Machinery goes by hours rather than miles. 10,000 hours is slightly used. Over 50,000 hours is well used.)

Time to update the farm balance sheet for the year too. I love this kind of thing; seeing the changes from year to year.

I’ve had my fill of Christmas music and I’m ready for the 1940’s station to come back to XM radio. My checkbook register is full too; I’ve had this register since November of 2017 and I’m not about to get a new one for the last couple days here. Whatever I have to do yet, I’ll wedge it on the page somehow.

Have you noticed in your own life what you do first? With my bad shoulder, putting a jacket on is an issue some days and I’ve noticed I put my hat on first. Which is a problem getting the jacket on then.

I do my left shoe first. Usually left sock first too, then right. It’s curious.

What do you do first in your routines?

41 thoughts on “Christmas on the Farm”

  1. Thanks for this, Ben. Takes me back to a time I can’t really adequately explain to the s&h.

    Grandpa also had dairy cows and it occurs to me that as the oldes of the 17 grandchildren, I might be one of the few who really remembers Grandpa coming in that side door by the kitchen where there was a little sink to “wash up” and shed the coveralls (he wore the blue herringbone striped ones (just looked it up and Dickies calls these “fisher-striped”). Funny the things that stick in my brain.

    I’m looking after a friends cats while they are out-of-town for the holidays, and I take my river walk after seeing to them.

    Somebody was out ice fishing on the pond/wetlands along “my” stretch of the river on Friday.

    Not sure I’d be out on a slushy body of water in December when a lot of the river is still open, but there wasn’t a big hole in the ice where their shanty had been on Saturday, so what do I know (remember, little girls did not go ice fishing in my family).

    Did my end-of-year inventory for my clients. Intended to do it in small chunks over the next few days, but once started just wanted it done. We’ll find out today if shoving around 500# of yarn in a couple of hours was smart or not.

    There’s a little new snow out there to shovel, so I’ll find out.

    Is it strange of me to feel like I have to wait until at least 6am to do the shovelling? I’d like to be out there earlier, but that seems rude.

    OTOH, I feel bad if I get after something else and suddenly find that I am the last person on my end of the block with a snowy walk, lol

    Liked by 8 people

    1. I am also one who doesn’t like to shovel (or snowblow or mow) too early. I think it goes back to remembering when Daughter was tiny and the ability to sleep until 7am was delicious and rare… and on those days I could start to flirt with 7:30 it seemed like one neighbor or other was out doing something noisy. This meant I waited until 9am at one of our last snows because I know the new neighbors have a newborn – quiet mornings are precious.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. No newborns in my immediate neighborhood, but as it turned out, I got involved in one thing and another, finally put on the boots and grabbed the shovel and discovered I was indeed the last at my end of the block to get my walk shovelled.


        Liked by 3 people

        1. That crust of ice on top of the snow didn’t exactly make for easy shoveling, either. Poor Bernie, when I let him out this morning, was falling through the crust. It took him three times to finally get his business done, I’m sure the crust was hurting his paws.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I don’t mean this to sound like bragging but I’m sure it’ll come off that way. I have the best neighbor on the planet. Before I even got a chance to do anything this morning he was already out with his snowblower – did my long driveway and my front sidewalk AND the area where the trash cans have to go at the bottom of the boulevard. He is an angel.

          Liked by 4 people

        3. I am taking a break right now from packing and organizing. So I browsed the Trail. VS, you are bragging up your neighbor not your own greatness ( although you are great) so brag him up all you want to. We need those folks.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. Go potty.
    Boil water for tea.
    Feed and water The Birds.
    Change the paper in the aviary.
    Check sports scores and standings.
    Check on the Trail.
    Play a few games of online pinochle.
    Go potty, again.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Ben, I had the same feeling about the barn on Christmas, in a very non-/anti-religious family. I too related to the animal stock differently that day, even sort of liked the horse. Gave milk cows and horse a little extra oats. Part of it was all the fuzzy frost frozen on ther windows from the animals heat. Felt something about being isolated from the world in there.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. In the morning there is a big hole in my life, emotional life I giess, that I do not put out drugs and day sheet for Sandy. I have a cold and cannot see her now. Have a dr. appointment tomorrow. They told me to take a home test (I have 4, now 3). It was negative so I can go to Dr. tomorrow. Maybe Sandra too.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. Yes, I have a morning routine. It’s simple and boring but I find my day runs along much better if I follow it. It provides a sense of balance and well-being to me and the older I get, the less I want to be without it.

    I had two horses when I was young. An Arabian gelding and a Shetland-Welsh pony of the most stubborn kind. I boarded them across the road at Mr. Christie’s farm. Mr. Christie was and elderly farmer whose wife had died. He was alone and my mom told me that I should sit with him and spend some time talking to him. He did appreciate the hour or two we spent together. He liked to watch Hogan’s Heroes and gave me a glass of lemonade each time. His farm was small. He usually had a few sows for piglets and always five steers to grow over the summer. As young calves they would suck on my fingers, and I loved them. But as the summer went by, they grew and became somewhat aggressive, charging me as I walked out into the pasture to go get the horses. I became more afraid of them as the summer went by. I’d stay near the edges of the pasture where there were trees and the fence which I could jump if they charged too close. I’d carry my Arab gelding’s halter and slide it on him quickly and jump on him bareback and ride him back to the barn. The pony, Chief, would slowly follow so that by the time I’d brushed Ben (the gelding) Chief would be there, waiting his turn. I’d give them both some carrot ends or black licorice.

    My girlfriends had horses too. There were two of them: Dawn and Lucky. Their families were summer people (we lived on a lake), so I cared for their horses over the winter months too. The barn was older than the barn in Ben’s picture. It was partitioned into wooden stalls. There was lots of fresh straw and hay to feed the horses. The steers were sent for butchering in the fall, the piglets raised and sold. So, it was me, four horses and a sow or two. The smell in the barn was amazing! Sweet hay and horse smell. I loved it. Mr. Christie would go to the grain bin and fill two bushel baskets with corn and lift one, then the other onto his thin shoulders. I saw his ankles once. They were like broom sticks. I wondered how an old man so thin could hoist two bushel baskets onto his shoulders and carry them back to the barn. He’d done it all his life. Those were peaceful winter days. I spent a lot of time up there, just sitting in the warm barn with the horses, sows, cats, and a cocker spaniel named Chance.

    I’m grateful to my mom for allowing me to have those horses and that experience.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. Remember the Calvin Klein add where a mother is admonishing her child, slumped in a chair next to a Christmas tree: “I don’t care if all of your friends are getting ponies, you’re getting underwear”?

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I realized yesterday when a friend was over how used to making coffee for one I have become. I can listen to the water going into the thermal pot that the coffee brews into and know by timing and sound when I have enough water for about 1 1/2-2 mugs of coffee. More than that and I have to pay attention.

    The dogs here make sure I follow morning routine: up – bathroom – gather 2nd dog from Daughter’s room (dogs swap between us) – dogs out and in – feed the dogs – feed the guinea pig… shower – coffee – give black dog her Zyrtec and white dog her “don’t fart so much” pill then dental treats for both… if I stray from this, the dogs get confused and either sit in the kitchen until their parts of the routine are done or they bark at me to remind me that they have not gotten all of their morning things. The cat shows up at the sound of coffee prep for treats, too. (Who has trained who?) It’s like cows, but less warm, the noises aren’t as pleasant, and the only critter getting hay weighs less than 5 pounds.

    Ben – I can just about hear the sounds in the barn on Christmas Eve. It makes me think of the book, “The Tomten” by Astrid LIndgren about the animals in the barn on Christmas Eve and the tomten or nisse that cares for them – one of my favorite picture books.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. I am happy to report that my kitty feeding time training program is beginning to show promise.

    At least the part where they hear the phone alarm go off and know that means a meal is about to be served. It doesn’t hurt that I also make no end of fuss that the music is playing and so it’s time to eat!!!

    The “wait for it” part? We’re still working on that, but some of the mayhem feels like it has died down.

    I had a little quality “barn time” out in the garage with our orange tabby this morning. For those who don’t know, we got “Kitten” (who is a very large orange tabby, but that’s what the s&h named him and it has stuck) from Ben lo these many years ago when Ben announced on Facebook that someone had dumped a bunch of stuff in someone’s field in the township, including a little orange kitten.

    We had lost our beloved calico right several months before, and it was time. I have discovered that a cat will always make themselves known to me when the time is right.

    Kitten was surely meant to be a barn cat and not a city cat. To compensate, I have him go out with me when I am shovelling or for a few minutes right before breakfast time. Today, I had finished the shovelling, but he had decided it wasn’t as cold as all that, so he should check out the garage (it’s an old, outdoorsy garage, so I can see the appeal). I figured, why not, there is plenty that needs tidying up out there.

    So that may become part of our morning routine for awhile. At least until it get too cold (that’s a when, not an if). It would be nice to have a really tidy garage in the spring.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I am packing and preparing to leave for AZ tomorrow, so my morning routine is out of whack. I usually get up, feed the dog, read the paper and a couple of websites, then go to the gym. It is all sideways today.

    See you all at the end of the week.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Regarding the header photo: The ducks are headed back towards their pond. Off to the right, is the old corn crib, which has become the chicken barn. Next to the chicken barn is a flat trailer I use on the farm, but it makes a nice shelter, under which the ducks like to sit.
    Most mornings when I go out for chores, I call out “HELLO DUCKS” and from the pond area they all quack in return. I’m not sure if it’s weather related or just their mood that they might be over under the trailer in the mornings.
    I scatter out some corn by the pond and I was headed back to the feed room when I took the photo.

    Liked by 7 people

  10. First thing I do is turn on the computer so it can get all its programs running by the time I want to sit down there… Do my 7 minute yoga routine (not kidding, but it works). Then make tea, and if Husband’s not up yet, check in on email, the Trail, etc. After that it’s a crap shoot.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. OT, Changing times, COVID: i got an ink stain on a leather jacket on Saturday. Now I have discovered there is none in open here any more. A common event, relating to how people dress. I can drop it off at Hy-Vee and they will send it somewhere. Related to how we dress and how we don’t go into work much anymore.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Most mornings bathroom, tide-them-over treats for the animals, reading. Of course Wednesdays are thrown off by having to go to the bakery early. After that, like BiR says, kind of a crapshoot. Although once I get dressed and go downstairs, the first thing that has to happen is that the animals getfed. Unless like today YA is working and I have the day off so she actually ended up downstairs first to feed the animals.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. When I put on a blouse or a jacket I have to put the right arm in first. I’ve tried it with the left arm first, and it’s just the most awkward thing to try to do. I can’t manage it.

    Liked by 4 people

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