This is one of those days when the screen is looking back at me with a stare as blank as my mind, devoid of inspiration. Thank goodness I always have the animals to fall back on.
The temperature has been steadily dropping this past week, well below freezing at night. Down in the barn, the level of diaper wipes in the bucket has also been dropping as the mice and ground squirrels pull their winter blankets down into their holes and burrows. A family of mice has moved into a high rise apartment in the wooden box nailed to the wall by the milking stand. It's where I keep emergency supplies: salves, liniment, betadine wash, etc. On top is where I put the milk buckets when they're not under the goat and the box of fresh wipes. I could hear little scurrying sounds inside the box and quietly unlatched the drop-down lid. Bottles had been pushed aside to make room for a ball of gathered fluff the size of a large grapefruit. There was movement in the nest as the residents burrowed deeper, hoping not to be seen. Silently applauding their ingenuity, I closed the lid again and let the mice be.
The goats pretty much set their own routine for the task at hand: who comes in first to be milked, who goes into which stall at night. When it works, it works well and chores are done quickly. If there's a glitch of any kind, the whole system goes cattywhompus. Sheila has always come bounding down to the barn when it was her turn, skipping along in that Valley Girl way of hers. For whatever reason, in the past week or so she has decided not to come in at all for milking. I stand in the doorway and call her name, coaxing and then cussing, as she turns her back to me up at the corner of the pen and pointedly and decidedly ignores me. Frustrated, I finally grab a rope and go after her. If it's a good day, she'll wait for me as I hike up the hill. If not, she'll walk slowly just a few steps ahead and we trail around the pen until she tires of the game and I tire, period. Then I put the rope around her neck and she heads to the barn almost at a trot as if to say, "Hurry up! What are you waiting for?" Go figure.
The cats are coming in earlier on these frigid evenings to lounge in front of the wood stove that has been going day and night. About eight, Bessie comes to stand in front of my chair and gives her single high-pitched yip that signals her wish to go for a walk. "Are you kidding me? Don't you know how cold it is out there?" "Yip!" I struggle out of the recliner, put on my shoes, shove my arms into a heavy jacket, and clamp the lighted hat on my head, wishing it had ear flaps. Bess stands at the door waiting for her leash, and then out we go. (The cats wish us well and stretch in front of the fire.) Once outside, we head around the driveway at a fast clip. Bess searches for exactly the right spots, takes a couple of fast piddles, and reads what for her must be the equivalent of headlines in the sniff newspaper that is her world before she heads back to the house with the same attitude as Sheila. "Hurry up! Don't you know it's cold out here?"
Gotta love 'em.