Like shoppers waiting for the store to open on Black Friday, turkeys mill around under the oak, waiting for breakfast to be served. Members of the huge flock of blackbirds that has migrated to winter here are in the chicken pens scrounging leftover grain. Coop doors are opened and hens and roosters tumble out, heading for the scratch, a mixture of corn and seeds that starts their day. In the barn, the acrobatic mouse goes up and down the rope; trying to lose weight or building up an appetite? A mouse or two (or more) usually hang out in the grain bucket at night, popping out in the morning when the obviously ineffective lid is removed. Yesterday, one little guy was too full to make the leap and climbed into my proffered hand for a lift. A handful of goat chow always gets thrown on the floor to feed the needy while the girls are getting their cereal in a bowl. A vole has made a tunnel entrance right beside the free-food pile. Like a seal, his sleek brown head with tiny ears pokes above the surface. The mice pick out their favorite bits, holding and nibbling a crushed corn kernel like a sandwich. The vole prefers private dining and fills his cheek pouches for a take-out meal at home. The barn birds took a page from the scrub jays' play book and now help themselves from the open bucket on the overhead shelf while I'm milking, too impatient to wait until the girls' nighttime bowls are filled. Milk buckets in hand, I make my way back to the house, and the meeting of the Breakfast Club is over for the day.
This is my week to see special faces. Kellan and William are working in an olive grove over in Coloma and took the time to come and visit last night. I have so missed these dear ones. They are staying in Georgetown with a long-time friend who has a commercial goat cheese establishment, and brought me a sample of a delicious, strong-flavored, cured cheese that I gobbled down right then and there, as well as a soft cheese I saved for today. In addition to hand picking olives at their "day job," Kellan and William help Charlie milk twenty-two goats (with a machine) twice daily. They are not WWOOFers but are gaining broad experience as itinerant workers on a variety of farms and ranches, just in California now, but who knows where their travels will take them. They brought photos and stories of the places they've been on their great adventure. I can't think of better company for an evening and look forward to the next time they come to south county. They give good hugs.