That’s Siegfried (second from the left) with his girls Jill, Nichole, Annette, and Aster. This small breeding group was established just over a month ago with much fuss and running about. All is quiet now, and that’s good, we’ll have lambs come spring. I captured this colorful sunset two weeks ago when the grass still held its color and one could make out leaves on the distant trees. Change has been upon us and we had a windy night and a cold start this morning. The thermometers registered 55ΒΊF in the living room and 15ΒΊ outside. Joanna did not stir until I had set fires in both stoves. The wood we are using in the cook stove is last year’s surplus. It has been exposed to the elements and shows its age; it is less dense than it was and can’t quite take the stove through the night. Moreover, the wind and cold combined to increase the draft and the thing went out sometime before dawn. I have yet to go out to do chores but have seen signs that the animals too have registered the abrupt change in the weather. The dogs would prefer to be out of the wind. Argus lay deep within one of the sheds and has yet to unfurl. Hank is waiting patiently by the barn. Although the horses have situated themselves to catch the warmth of the rising sun their twitching ears belie their otherwise immobile stances … they anticipate their daily scoop of grain. I have shooed the chickens from the front porches several times already; like the horses they too are doing what they can to warm themselves. Nuthatches, Titmice, and Chickadees have queued politely in the bare branches of the Mulberry. They take turns at the feeders in constant but unhurried succession. The absence of cats is unusual. I know however that Harry, Calvin, Peter, Onyx, Tolly, Moses, and Merlin have each ensconced themselves comfortably somewhere … in a hay bale or in some sunlit corner out of the wind. They, like the dogs, will resume their appointed rounds later, when the sun has warmed the frigid morning air. Sounds too tell of the conditions out-of-doors. Joanna put out the laundry and I can hear the clothes line straining as blankets catch the wind like mainsails on a summer’s day. The stoves too respond to each rising gust. Most times the swift movement of wind across the chimney tops ensures good daft and quick fires below. Rarely however, due to chaotic and turbulent flow across and down the tile, we experience a brief reversal of the usual tide, an event which stirs us from our seats. I will gather my energy, don boots, gloves, hat, and coverall to do chores. Liquid water will have turned to ice, a sure sign that it is time for the annual ritual of installing water heaters. All of the animals will note my departure from the house and slow walk to the barn. Their attentions will focus on what I am doing and how my actions may influence theirs. It is another day with much to attend to. The earth will turn, daylight will dwindle, evening will descend, and night will come again. The animals will forage, rest, chew, and then settle down to sleep. Each of us will endeavor to do it all again come light of day.


16 thoughts on “Routine

    • Thanks much. I enjoyed writing it. I hope you and the fam had a quiet and relaxing Holiday. Please give your daughter a hug from me and a hug and a kiss from Joanna (she’s missing her much). D

  1. Yes! Thanks so much for sharing this. The seasons have noticeably turned on this side of the continent as well. Nothing like a couple days of desert rain. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Dr. Smith πŸ™‚

    • What a lovely surprise to see your name there in my comments! Really a delight and a pleasure to know that you’re out there and keeping in touch by reading these posts. I hope you will continue to do so. You know, I’ve got two emails from you still in my INBOX waiting for a reply. Please do not assume that the absence of communication is reflective of absence of thought. You and Josh are both in our thoughts (and conversation) more often than you might think. Having played your roles in the development of the farm J and I will never forget. Things here are evolving, perhaps you should send your mailing address in an email to school and I’ll see to it that you get a copy of our Holiday Letter (which explains a bit of what’s going on). On the ‘informational front,’ Dr. M. has retired and we’re all in the new East Campus Science Center! Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Here’s wishing you and Josh a very happy Holiday. D PS: I’ve been meaning to ask … who’s Dr. Smith?

  2. I’m sitting here in the car, at Shoal Harbour. I gave a talk last night and Josephine and I are slowly making our way back home. One stop at a time. Just took a few pictures down by the water and somehow the mood was just right for reading your beautiful piece. The flock of geese just beyond me, floating in the brackish water beyond the bridge seems to have caught the same spirit as have the birds you described. Nothing like a quiet peaceful fall day. Have a sneak peek (, might work one or more into a post … or not). Near the middle you’ll find a picture of the Barn Loft. Composed this in the salt-strewn blue (sort of, thanks to salt) Avenger at right. Left van at home, car burns less gas. Wife loves the place and bought lots of Christmas “stuff.” Spent about an hour wandering around and found her still happily engrossed. πŸ™‚ Was in the mood for a fall post. Home now, BTW.

  3. Wow David, I really love this post, somehow it catches the heart of you, Joanna, and your life among your animals. All interacting and dependent on each other. It’s beautiful writing and describes a life rich in being present and engaged with each hour of each day. Really wonderful, and that photo is stunning … the clouds bursting away from the horizon add such dynamic energy πŸ™‚

    • Coming from the likes of a writer, poet, and thinker such as yourself I take the comment as a complement and much needed pat-on-the-back. We’re digging out from under the first significant storm of the winter season here … snow, ice, and rain … ugh. Thanks again for the ray of sunshine on this most gloomy of days. D

  4. What a gorgeous photo. It paid to go out and capture it. How old is Siegfried? He’s been around a while. This post was very soothing somehow … the pattern of everyday chores and change of the seasons … we can’t change it … just have to go with the flow!

  5. Again, I marvel at those beautiful and diverse names of your sheep – and you even have a German sheep, Siegfried πŸ™‚ This posts reads like poetry – like some timeless classic on changing seasons or on making so-called routine the source of contentment.

  6. The cadence of your day is beautifully expressed prose and in layers of color. You have captured the mood and movement of the day in this word-and-picture-portrait. It is very lovely and much appreciated.

  7. This is really one of your finer bits of writing πŸ™‚ It reminds me of one of the sections in Sand County Almanac where Leopold is walking around his perimeter in winter, just checking on the status of everything. When you’re paying attention, even the life and times of a field mouse is a great saga. Great piece πŸ™‚

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