The thermometer read 5 degrees on the outside and 41 degrees this morning on the inside of the farmhouse. The coal stove had gone out sometime in the night. We were all most pleasingly warm under our thick quilts and comforters and unaware. "Drafty old houses are like swiss cheese with a door, at least in this weather", the man of the house muttered as he re-lit the stove, "Swiss cheese with a door." Outside the wind was so fierce that the red barn was barely visible from my kitchen window. We both shuddered at the task ahead, and not just from the cold. It was auction day. Before Joe left for work and after the baby was fed and settled, we headed out with Connor's help into the frigid cold to load the spring bucklings. I gave them a quick ration of green hay which still smelled reminiscently of summer. They munched aware unaware that it was their last meal on this farm. Their birthplace. It was surprisingly easier than we thought it would be to load them onto the truck, the cold and a full belly making them compliant and manageable. Not that they aren't usually. Goats are great like that. Friendly, personable. But they're also stubborn. We took them 3 at a time and made 2 trips. We're fortunate to live just 4 miles from the auction barn. The barn was clean and organized and the employees friendly and helpful. I lingered a minute as I said good-bye. They gazed at me uncaring as they chomped on more hay.
As we pulled back up the driveway, Joe said, "You're going to miss them a little aren't you? Watching them out there in the field, hearing them call for you each time they see you?" "Yeah" I said, "a little." And I knew we were talking about more than just me.
Tonight, I'll attend the auction with a friend. I'm not sure I wanted to go, but feel I should anyway. Especially if this is something we'll be doing more of in the future. Tonight is the Holiday Auction. The one attended by much of the ethnic community seeking out a lamb or goat for their holiday feasts. It supposedly brings the best prices for goat of all the auctions throughout the year. This and the Easter goat sale. We'll see. As for the money, Connor says he should get some for all the farm chores he does, I say I'd like to keep most for the expansion of the farm, Joe says we need it for bills. And that's that. I suspect we'll all get a cut.
Back at home it's now 12 degrees. Still -6 with the wind chill. We cover the chicken coop with a tarp and cinder blocks and wrestle the blasted wind for 10 minutes to keep it from blowing off. The coop's too drafty for days like this. I give them an extra scoop of feed, check on the goats in the barn and head indoors. I can't feel my fingers. My thighs are numb.
Joe leaves for work.
Inside, the temp's up to 56. The babies are in triple layers. There's a pot roast in the crockpot. The kitchen is still a mess from breakfast and a hurried evening last night. After feeding and changing the baby, I hand him to Ava and set the kitchen to rights. I decide the only way to warm up the kitchen properly is to bake. Ava and I decide a nice rustic brown bread to accompany the roast and maybe some gingerbread cookies would be a good choice. As the baby plays with some spatulas in his seat and with Lucas' help, we grind and measure wheat flour, and cornmeal for the bread. In the blender go raisins, water, olive oil, molasses. In the mixing bowl, water, honey and yeast are proofing. They all get mixed together and kneaded. Brenna laughs as she powders the baby's nose with flour. The bowl of dough gets set on the back of the coal stove to rise. I'm looking forward to this bread. On days like these, a hearty homemade bread is especially savory.