Warning: Lots of Pictures.
Its 6am and I roll out of bed and pull on my 'milking clothes' of the week - long pants and long sleeves to protect from the mosquitos.
I open the door and step out into the lightly scented morning. From the porch I can see the sheep still asleep around the doghouse. A sign they must have been worried about intruders last night. Otherwise, they sleep under the walnut tree.
But its not time for the sheep first. I'll let them rest.
Around the corner to the back of the house (which was originally the front of the house) The chicks are first on the list. The beauty bush is in full, spectacular bloom. I can see it through both kitchen windows and it gives nice scenery for the chick chores.
Of course, they aren't really chicks any more. They will be moving into the freezer tomorrow or the next day. But they still sound like chicks - with little cheeps and peeps.
First I open the chicken tractor so they can get out. Then I move the chicken tractor over to fresh grazing.
Its not hard to get them back in. I just fill up the feeders and most of them run back in.
Then while I clean and fill up the 10 gallon waterer, I walk the stragglers in.
There they are - all in and eating. Can you see the dark ones? Those are the layer chicks. One week younger but smarter and faster they have managed to survive with these Goliaths.
Then, its the chickens. I fill up their 3 gallon waterer and feeders.
And open the door. Suddenly it isn't so quiet any more.
Marigold starts his morning 'chase and pin'.
With the hose still on, it is into the garden. See this old stump? Its got 6 squash plants growing in it. I planted them out as seeds and they have all sprouted (+ 1 extra, I only planted 5). There is a White Bush Scallop in the middle which grows like a zucchini and then there are 4 vining ones to sprawl over the edge. I don't remember what kind. I know there's a Queensland Blue... I'll recognize them when they fruit.
Pick weeds for the rabbits.
Here's one of my favourite early tomatoes - Silvery Fir Tree.
Here's an especially beloved tomato - Cherokee Purple - Amy gave me the seeds for Christmas. There are are couple others in the garden and I gave one seedling to our mother. This one is in the middle of a cucumber patch.
Here's a view down the side. I've planted black currants (Missouri Berry) and some black berries down here next to the hedge of dead tree stumps. The soil is incredible.
And see the wood frame in the corner? That is a cold frame I bought at a garage sale for $5. Its got potatoes in this year but next year it will have peppers.
I set up the hose to do some watering and head to the sheep pen.
I am eagerly greeted by Renauld.
Grain! Grain! Give me my oats!
I put in his bucket with his cup of oats and tie him up in the corner.
Draga is at the gate before anyone else and I let her out without tying her up. I may only get 1 - 1.3 cups of milk from her a day but it is so darn easy, I just keep going. She runs to the stanchion ahead of me.
Then its back to the pen to get Brida. She is a little harder. She doesn't like to go near the dog so I have to go into the pen and set out some oats. Freya wants some, too. She jumps up on me like a dog.
I hope I am not going to regret letting her do this when she is a full grown sheep.
Once I've secured Brida, she follows right behind me. I feel like the pied piper. I took this picture by just putting the camera over my shoulder. That's my own wooly, grey hair at the bottom of the photo.
We've now worked out all the bugs out of milking and she also hops right up on the stanchion with minimal coaxing. Can you see that her udder is lopsided? Basil beat me to the right side this morning. That's okay. There's plenty to go around.
This week's milking song was "River of Dreams" by Billy Joel. I now have the entire song memorized. What a great song!
I'm a messy milker. So I don't have any kind of bucket. I just hold yoghurt containers and milk with one hand at a time. It might take a little longer but I don't waste milk by squirting it all over the place.
I put Brida back in the pen and head to the garden.
I move the hose and pick an armful of weeds for the chickens.
The 'old ladies' of my flock are now up. Here's Lacey getting her morning exercise.
Then into the house to strain and measure the milk. I got a bumper amount from Brida this morning - more than 1 3/4 cups. The most I have ever got from her was 2.5 cups at a time when the lambs were first born. I milk morning and evening so she runs around 3 cups a day.
Now it is time to make pancakes with this milk.
And that is my morning - well at least it was my morning until 8am.
6 hours ago