Saturday, April 18, 2009

Labor And Reward

Before the rain came today I thought I should clean out the chicken coop. It's not that big a deal—just an 8'x10' room, with a deep carpet of hay, wood shavings, and chicken poop.

I use what is known as the “deep litter” bedding method. This means that all winter long I just keep adding hay and stuff that, combined with the chicken manure, composts and keeps the birds warm.

This was a long winter, so the litter was a foot deep, packed down and heavy.

I shoveled it into a large plastic tub, then carted it down the coop steps and around the corner into the plastic compost bins. I did this over and over for an hour, as the chickens fluttered and objected and I got covered in chicken dust.

When I was done, I put down new hay and thought about fall, when I will cart the compost from the bins onto the garden, and dump the summer's litter into the bins, in preparation for next spring.

It was an hour of heavy lifting. When it was over I decided to reward myself with some pastoral pleasures. I took Wolfie out and threw balls for him (with one of those plastic thrower thingies—my “natural” throws won't wear out a Chihuahua) until he was thoroughly tired, and therefore “calm-submissive.” Then I put a leash on him and let Blossom and Alsiki out to graze.

I could tell by the little tearing movements of their heads that they were ingesting the tippy tops of the new grass. But what they still love at this point, Goddess knows why, is last fall's dried out leaves. Silently and gracefully, they are vacuuming our lawn for us.

Is there anything more peaceful in this world than watching animals graze? As I lay on the damp grass with Wolfie at my side, I felt rooted, pastoral, yea even Biblical....

Then I put the goats back in their pen, Wolfie in the house, and myself in the shower. And that, too, was good.


  1. Jealous of your lawn eating goats.

    Such a soothing image this rainy morning.

  2. what a pleasant life. boscoe loves the fresh grass of early spring.

  3. "my 'natural' throws won't wear out a Chihuahua"—how wonderfully descriptive of MY natural throws!

  4. While I was watching the goats nibble I picked up a couple of tiny dandelion leaves and chewed them. They're supposed to be such a spring tonic, and people make salads of them. I'd read that the big leaves are bitter, but not the little ones. Well, these were small, and boy, were they bitter! Can't imagine eating a plateful of them, even with bacon. So much for my life as a grazing animal.