June 21, 2012


The wheels of the big, 3-wheel stroller swish as they glide through the tall grass. Out in the middle of the field, I park the stroller, back facing the sun and front facing me a few feet ahead. Or sometimes, I sit Zander up on a blanket in the shade of the stroller or golf cart. I place a few toys in front of him and maybe a cup of water and set off to do my work.

I step into the broiler pen, the youngest batch first, rinsing out the waterer and then grabbing the two feeders. I set them down outside of the pen, roll the sides up and use the dolly to pull the pen one length to fresh new grass. I refill the feeders, carry them back in, top off the water, adjust the sides depending on the weather, do one last check to see if this batch is well, and move on.

The stroller swishes on to the next pen where I repeat the process and then again until all three batches are watered, fed and well. We make a stop at both eggmobiles to make sure they have what they need and we're on our way to the brooder. The stroller just fits through the doorway and I park Z right in front of the 'teenager' chicks. These guys and girls are 3 weeks old and they're the most entertaining for him to watch.

Again, I place a few toys in front of him and get to work.  I start with the youngest batch who are a week old. Monitoring and adjusting temperature, managing bedding, cleaning and refilling feeders and waterers. I move on to the teenagers and do the same, only on a larger scale. Much more bedding to manage, bigger feeders and waterers.

Z keeps himself occupied most of the time but sometimes, at this point, he begins to fuss. He's been patient for so long and we're nearing nap time. I sing a song, he loves Johnny Cash, and he starts to laugh mid-fuss, every time. That's all it takes. I stop and think about my own mother singing to me. I can hear her voice singing "three little fishies" and it makes me smile.

When all is well in baby chick land, we move on to the sheep and cows. I look to see if all of the automatic waterers are functioning and filling properly. Check to see if everyone has the hay they need, check and manage bedding, maybe do some mucking with the pitchfork. The sheep and cows come into the shed to say hello and see what's going on. This is my chance to look everyone over and see if there are any issues we need to know about. Ella has usually just been milked and is content. I give Lucy a scratch on the head and check her stall. Sometimes I spend a few minutes just being with her. Out of the five sheep, there is one who greets Z daily. She puts her nose close to the stroller and he reaches out and gives her a scratch. Ironically, it's Clarice, one of the bottle-fed lambs from last season.

You might recall that it was my job to manage the three new bottle-fed lambs. I lost the littlest lamb and it broke my heart. I continued to nurse the two. I was very newly pregnant then and in between gagging from the smell of the milk replacer, I used to wonder if the lambs knew of the baby inside me. I was sure they did. I think of that every time Z reaches out for Clarice. How they have known each other longer than Z's been on this earth. Soul mates.

One last quick glance to be sure all is well, looking along the electric fence line to be sure it's intact and checking gates, the stroller wheels swish once again as we make our way back to the house to put Z down for sleep.

Though there is much more work in between, these chores are the bookends of my days. The animals may have changed but it's been the same routine for 5 years. Only now, it's just a little different. Life happens at a different pace these days. An excuse to slow down and really see things. To see the world through a new pair of eyes.

 A quick visit to watch daddy feed the pigs and Zander shows us that he can now stand up in the stroller. Yay for straps!

Oh, and look, I can turn myself around too!

June 15, 2012

to zander ~ love, mama


You're 6 months old (!!!!) and you find a way to amaze me every single day. In just the last week you started sitting up and experimenting with crawling. I'm quite happy with you staying immobile for the time being, just so you know. I'll be chasing after you so very soon!

You helped your daddy and I process our first batch of chickens of the season this week. This was a first for you and I was a little nervous about how that was going to work. It's a long, long day of hard work and though we had some help, I knew your dad really needed me there. I thought I would have to stop working and make several trips back to the house with you. You surprised us both by hanging in there and being such a good boy the entire day. You hung out in your stroller and played with toys or you napped while I wore you in the ergo. The day started at 7am and ended when we had cleaned up and loaded the birds into the freezer at 10:30pm. You were so tired but you kept it together and didn't cry.

I just want to thank you for that. I think that somehow you understood how important that day was for us and that we really needed to work.

Though your life is pretty interesting for a baby, it's not always easy. You come to work with us every day. We  often work long hours and you're forced to occupy yourself a lot of the time. You don't get to go to bed when most babies do. Your mama and daddy work late because a lot of our work with the animals starts at dusk which just gets later and later throughout the season. It's a hard life sometimes and we don't get to spend as much time doing fun stuff with you as we would like.

Zander, thank you for being such an easygoing baby. I hope that someday you'll understand and appreciate this life we have built for you, even if it's not always fun.

I've dreamed about you for so long and you are the reason for all of this. We love you in ways we never knew existed and you are the happiness that we need right now.

 Taking a nap while mama teaches the interns how to process chickens.

 Two of our fantastic interns, Nate (yes, another Nate!) and Sam.

 How Zander occupied himself.

 Helping mama make pizzas to feed the workers last week.

 6 months old and already driving the golf cart!

 Watching daddy mix and grind feed for the chickens.Watch and learn, little one.