It happened again this morning. As I was heading down the driveway to feed animals, I told myself that I needed to be efficient because I had a couple extra tasks to fit in before work this morning. And then, some indeterminate amount of time later, I was standing in the chicken coop motionless, just watching them. They were fed and watered and set for the day, but I was still there, just marveling at their general craziness and stupidity and charm.
It’s snuck up on me the last couple years, and I can’t say when it really switched over, but I became a person who likes morning chores. I’ve long been a person who likes mornings, and don’t let me get started on the joys of a morning routine, but animal chores were wedged in between meditation and writing as a purely practical matter. I tolerated them, but they took up precious minutes of morning time.
Until chores became precious minutes of morning time. I spend a little more time every day watching the chickens peck their food, wondering if it’s the same smart ones who eschew the initial melee in favor of the grass, what injustices prompt the roosters to puff up in each others’ faces so comically, and so much more… The pigs tolerate a good patting while they’re eating, so they get one. Bacon first, because she’s my favorite and then Kevin, because he is equally worthy of love (but he can be a bully and I don’t approve of that).
It’s so satisfying. Yes, I understand that they are all really happy to see food and could care less about the bringer of food. But it’s good to be needed. And it’s good to have some simple labor at the start of the day – a short walk, a few buckets to lift, water to fill. To breathe a little fresh air, to walk away after a few minutes feeling good that the animals are set for the day. It’s a fine way to start a day.