The morning started like every other--I got out of bed very reluctantly and was greeted by Molly (my little white dog)'s very exuberant 'good mornings!' as she wagged around and made a bunch of noise in the otherwise silent house. Everyone else was (had been...) still asleep. When I let her out, I noticed that last night's storm had left the air quite breezy and an all around feeling of freshness coated the earth.
When the house started to stir, I went outside and watered my flowers. My little violet baskets are coming back, after surviving a terrible 'kitten batting massacre.' My morning glories are doing well, all little green 'morning glory eating' bugs considered. My petunias are the healthiest little things, though, and I will be collecting their seed for next year soon. I set the sprinkler up on my new strawberry bed and silently wished them well in their new area.
After breakfast and morning prayer the kids left to do their farm chores. Johnny came trudging down the stairs, wished me a good morning, asked where the kids were and headed outside before eating any breakfast.
Within the hour, we were assembling in the living room (at the urging of the 5yr. old) to begin working. Johnny was waving his oversized work gloves in the air as he explained how we had to get to work if we were ever going to get our firewood!
We reached our location in the back pasture with the aid of the rusty pickup truck. Just as we were jumping out of the bed, Andrew's crackly voice came over the walkie talkie in the cab: "Dad, I need my chain saw sharpened." Everyone piled back in, and we drove through the pasture, past the homestead and down the road. Dad sharpened while we romped in the woods searching for wild raspberries. There aren't many this year, due to a cool spring, but mmm are they tasty when you do come upon a patch! I'm not as good at seeking them out like my smaller sibs, but thankfully, I still get to enjoy them, as they are most eager to share their little fistfuls of warm, mushy, flavor packed berries. :-)
The chain saw sharpening took far longer than anticipated, so, by the time we got back, rumor and smell had it that lunch would be served soon. We split and stacked the wood that we had brought in the previous night until Mom called us for lunch and afternoon prayers. While washing the dishes later, I witnessed Johnny following Dad around the front pastures as he did some adjusting on the fence. It was adorable, as I could easily imagine the questions that were being prattled without pause for breath.
We piled into the bed of the truck an hour later, ready to work! We waved good bye to Andrew who was biking off to the cabin to do his own work. Stephen came running out and asked us to wait for Annie, who came running out and asked to wait for Lizzy... the final member to hop in was the farm dog, Max, who couldn't stop barking and wagging his tail in giddy excitement.
Out in the pasture again, we parked and Dad snapped on his ear muffs, grabbed his chain saw and blazed off into the woods, Stephen on his tail. The rest of the kids jumped out and ran for the raspberry patch fast as you can blink an eye. Max took up the rear, following closely on their tail. Within minutes, a curious pony was sticking her head over the bumper to inspect the new metal object that was parked in her pasture. She carefully tasted and smelled every inch of the pickup, from tire to bed. With shouts and squeals, the kids noticed their friend and came running over to greet her. Not surprisingly, their greetings all sounded something like: "hold still Lena, while I get on." By now the forest had trembled with the fall of one of it's mighty trees and Dad was already beginning to chop it up. For the next few hours, we hauled arm load after arm load to the truck until it was ready to burst the tires. At one point, Michael had to 'go,' suddenly. He walked to the pony, jumped on 'John Wayne style' (as they call it) and proceeded to taxi home on her. She doesn't need much convincing to head towards home with a rider on, in hopes of getting to come out and eat some better grass. When we finished, we all managed to find seats amongst the wood for the slow ride home, except Max, who had to trot alongside the truck.
After unloading the wood and watching Theresa, over and over, demonstrate how to femininely chop firewood, ;-) we had a snack, took a break and then went out to play with horses. My mare did wonderful. I walked, gaited and cantered around her pasture until I felt a calmness and a good connection with her. Then I let her out to get some good grass while I worked at halter breaking Frysta, our filly. I gently got the halter on her and let her go off to check that out while I had a chat with her Mom about child rearing. :-) Actually, I think her mom was asleep before I had concluded my lecture.
While I pet the three horses that were crowding for attention, I watched the kittens and chicks play on the other side of the fence - four black kittens and five large chicks. There was a round bale that the kittens would suddenly turn and dive under at a good 60mph. There was a string hanging off it that they batted, but usually got tackled by a sibling before they were able to play with it very long. A curious chick rounded the bale and stretched her neck out, watching with great interest as these little black beasts attempted to murder one another. She was unaware of the kitten that had strayed a little to the left and now sunk deep into the grass, preparing for the kill. A few breathless seconds ticked by. Suddenly the little animal sprang to life and charged her unexpecting victim... who merely turned curious little eyes on her approaching attacker. That must have taken the wind out of the little kitten's sails, because she slowed until she was standing directly under the chick. If only the kitten had taken the time to realize that she was half the size of the chick before she had charged it and now made a fool of herself in front of the other kittens! The chick stared down her beak at the trembling little kitty. Fear was turned to anger when she overheard snickering coming from her brother by the hay bale. She suddenly bolted off in his direction grabbed him around the neck and whopped him to the ground in a beautiful kung fu maneuver which left him groping for air and mercy. The mother hen and her brood came clucking around the bale about now and the wide-eyed chick slowly went off to join them, a bit flabbergasted it seemed.
I sighed. I had a horse sleeping in a trance under my fingertips and adorably funny little animals playing and prancing in front of me. To my left, 3 cords of split and stacked firewood sat, with the fresh mound in front of them still needing splitting and stacking, to be burned through the winter. To my right an abundant garden had seemingly sprang to life the past week and now the tips of the greenery showed over the top of the woven fence. Happiness... like you don't find in the malls, theaters, restaurants or amusement parks. Happiness like you only find at home.