It is a cold, rainy Memorial Day weekend in Vermont. I was just out in the barn admiring how much our timber frame contractor can accomplish in a day. Silas is soon to begin restoring the understory. Our recent task has been to prepare for this enormous feat. Mike is building a free standing 10'x12' chicken coop at the end of the stone retaining wall. It is just as I imagined. He is always able to make my crazy ideas a reality. On Tuesday night this week I completed moving the last pigs from the barn. Sparkler's daughters, Fuzzy and Brownie, are now outside in Jorgenson's lot with Brownie's piglets. Creating spaces and moving pigs can be a multi-day process when you are squeezing it in around other work. The boys and I begin putting up the hog panel enclosure last Saturday with Trenton and I cobbling together a shelter from the boys' old swing set. One of my plans for summer is to create portable pig huts which are more presentable from the old swing set but last weekend's pre-prom creation works for now.
My task this morning was to move manure out of the barn. Covered in fleece and wearing a hat I soon was warm enough on this 40 degree day to enjoy the cool breeze coming from the north. Our dogs Storm and Danny snuggled into a pile of straw and the laying hens worked around me enjoying whatever I uncovered from the manure. As I worked in the back of the barn which had been the pigs' pen I have a clear view of Brownie, Fuzzy and the piglets. The gang of eleven was clearly hunger and began demanding Brownie lay down to feed them. Their squeals grew to be more like screams as they navigated on top of one another to find their specific teat. Brownie grew frustrated with the fighting for place (and I would guess the ear piercing noise) and stood up. After a minute or two she laid back down and the piglets settled in to nurse. They were quiet for a good five minutes. I know if I had been close enough I would have seen their quick gulps as her milk let down.
Life is super busy as we squeeze in work on the barn, around my weekend shifts at PINE and our regular jobs. Yet moments of watching the piglets nurse, the hens scratch or the dogs sleep in the straw often remind me of work others have done on this farm and in our barn. I am thankful for the opportunities we enjoy.