Saturday, May 19, 2018

A day in the life

A friend and I were noodling around a blog post called "A day in the life" in which I would document what I do in a 24-hour period, thus answering the eternal question of "What do you DO all day?" now that we're empty nesters. So I did just that -- documented a couple of sample days, namely Thursday May 17 through Friday May 18.

Thursday, 5 am
Got up, made tea, scanned the news on the Internet, started some writing projects.

6 am
By this point Amy and the calves started to bellow. At the moment, Amy is a nurse cow; she's nursing not only her own calf, but Little Orphaned Anna as well, after her mother Polly died. Amy will tolerate Anna's nursing, but only when her own calf is nursing. To make sure both calves will nurse simultaneously, we put them in a separate pen at night and I let them out in the morning.

Because Amy can get a bit testy with Anna, I usually stand and hold the lead rope to keep Amy quiet. It can be boring until I remember to look around and enjoy the scenery. I imagine there are a lot of people who wouldn't mind watching the dawn come in and listening to a chorus of birdsong.

When Amy finished nursing the calves, I put her down in the pasture with the other cows until noon or so. I released the chickens and checked for any morning eggs.

6:20 am
Back into the house to work on my tea and on the computer. I'm a morning person and my brain is most alert during this time of day, so it's the logical time to write. On this particular day, I finished up my WND column...

...and drew up a calendar for my writing commitments over the next couple of months to make sure I don't miss any deadlines. I sent article queries to two parties and got no bites. I worked on an article I have due in a week.

8:30 am
It's my turn to bring dessert for the Friday potluck, so I made a quadruple batch of shortbread cookies.

10 am
By this point Mr. Darcy was bouncing around the house, ready for his walk, so Don and I took him out to stretch his muscles and run. He's still technically a puppy and boy does he need his exercise. It's been cooler in the last few days, cloudy and raining at times.

10:30 am
Breakfast (brunch?), then Don and I peeled off for our separate tasks of the day. He went into the shop. I coated tankards for a production run we're finishing up.

When they were all coated (for the first time -- we coat twice), I put them on a shelf to dry.

11:30 am
Then it was into the garden. I'm still prepping beds, weeding and adding compost, then planting. On this day I worked on watermelon and cantaloupe tires. Weeding:

Adding compost:

Planting (pardon the misspelling):

12:00 pm
Time to fetch Amy in from the pasture so she could feed the calves. She's often a bit grumpy about this, so I sweetened the deal with a bit of grain. Sometimes she eats the grain and sometimes she doesn't.

12:20 pm
I put Amy back in the pasture with the other cows. On the way back, I slipped a string through the faucet handle near the well pump. The other day one of the cows, using the faucet as a scratching post, turned on the water for a few hours. The string prevents the handle from being pushed up.

12:30 am
Back to the garden, where I moved compost and weeded beds. At this point the rain had held off and we weren't sure if it would skirt around us (as it often does), so I watered as well. (As it turns out, I shouldn't have bothered.) We have the drip system set up but not connected yet.

I noticed the potatoes are just starting to poke up.

I also saw an American Goldfinch from a distance.

3:30 pm
Time for barn chores. I put some hay in the pen for Amy and the calves...

...gathered any eggs I found (at the moment I'm getting between 7 and 11 eggs a day)...

...and fed and watered the chickens.

The calves eat the hay, but what they really want is milk.

"Where's mama?"

4 pm
But first it's time to take Mr. Darcy out for his long run. We have two routes we can take him: either on the road for a two-mile circuit, or over a neighbor's field to a point we call the Overlook, then looping back on a dirt access road to the house.

At this point the weather was thickening. (You can see the cows as distant black dots on the grass.)

This time we chose the field walk. The neighbor is an absentee fellow we know very well and he's given us full permission to walk his land whenever we want. The field walk is shorter than the road walk, but Darcy can run more freely...

...through nice broad fields.

Approaching the Overlook.

The Overlook is a point where the property drops sharply into the canyon that surrounds us. This photo doesn't do justice to the splendid view.

5 pm
I threw in a load of laundry...

...then did dishes. With just the two of us, I only do dishes once a day. Before:


Hanging laundry.

6 pm
Time to bring Amy in from the field for the night. On the way to fetch her, I saw several Hoary Redpolls flitting about.

Usually I have to haul Amy in since she's reluctant to leave the grass, but tonight her udder must have been full because she actually came without a lead rope.

The weather was definitely thickening up. Evidently I shouldn't have bothered watering the garden.

In the corral, I held Amy on the lead rope while the calves nursed, then unclipped the rope and left the animals to themselves. Then it was time for a much-needed shower.

7 pm
Ah, my evening indulgence: a glass of iced wine and a book.

8:30 pm
Time to give the parrot some attention. With the departure of Younger Daughter into the Navy, we have her Quaker parrot Lihn for the next few years. It's become an evening routine to release her from her cage and let her fly around and get some exercise. Usually she ends up sitting on my finger (while I wear a glove, or she'll nibble my cuticles to death as she "grooms" me). She'll groom herself and attend to her feathers as I watch mindless YouTube videos.

9 pm
Don and I shood the sleepy calves into their separate pen for the night, then I closed up the chicken coop as well.

10 pm
Bedtime (for me). Don's a night owl and he stays up later. When two people live and work together 24/7, it's important to have one's own quiet time. Evenings are Don's quiet time; mornings are mine.

Friday, 5:15 am
I awoke to a power outage and rain. Lately we've been getting some short-term outages of a few hours. Rather than scanning the news or working on writing projects, I made tea and drank it while reading a book.

6 am
Repeat routine with chickens and cows.

The power came back on when I was out in the barn. Later it was chilly enough to start a fire in the cookstove, first time in a couple weeks. I took advantage of the surface heat to cook breakfast, a broccoli-onion stir-fry that makes Older Daughter gag but which I love.

10:30 am
After taking Mr. Darcy for his walk (with umbrellas), Don departed for the shop and I sat down to second-coat the tankards.

11:30 am
Because it was raining too much to work in the garden, I finished washing and hanging laundry.

12 pm
Fetched Amy up from the field for the midday feeding. Afterwards, I dipped the shortbread cookies in chocolate and let them cool for tonight's potluck.

2:30 pm
The rain eased enough for me to get a bit of gardening done. I transplanted the broccoli I started in the house several weeks ago.

Then I weeded out one of the beds in which I'll transplant the peanut seedlings. I also weeded the pea beds. (It's a good thing I rather enjoy weeding, isn't it?)

The peas are coming up strongly.

4 pm
Time for Mr. Darcy's evening walk. Don and I took him along the road, where he dragged a suitably macho and manly stick for at least a mile. Good dog.

5 pm
Showered and got ready for the weekly potluck, this time held at our neighbor's house.

6 pm
Full house for the potluck -- I counted 27 attendees. Man I love these potlucks.

8:30 pm
Home. We closed in the calves and chickens and I let the parrot out to play.

And that, dear readers, is a typical routine for a couple of our days. Obviously tasks vary from day to day and with the needs of the season, but this is a typical sample of the varied work we do. It's nothing profound or earth-shattering, but it's peaceful, calm, and productive (for us).


  1. It's a great life. Plenty of work but not the frustration of those with nothing positive to do.


  2. I was born and raised on a small farm back in Illinois. I still own some of that farm and have gone back (home) several times. The last time was about 3 years ago and the number of homes that have disappeared is striking! The man that farms my small acreage is farming 3000 acres and says that 2000 is about the smallest amount that you can make a living at. He is also having problems getting anyone to work for him. It seems that no one wants to get their hands dirty anymore. It is really sad to go back there as there are no fences, no livestock, and almost no houses are left.

  3. Well Patrice, thanks for sharing your busy days. It is soothing to just stay busy and yet relax in the everyday movements of country living. Not everybody gets it, but those of us who do, can't help but smile throughout your days.

  4. The rhythm of farm life is so peaceful, isn't it? Even with the livestock challenges and weather interruptions, it is truly a wonderful life! Our rainy weather has me spending my day in my sewing room working on projects. Morning and evening rounds are done in boots and a rain jacket. All is well and God is Good!

  5. I love what you said about having your own quiet time.... so true! Your stir fry looks delicious.

  6. Can you tell us a little bit more about your system for hanging clothes, please? I can't really tell how it's done on those larger clothing items looks like a great idea though.

  7. And can you please post your reply here? I mistakenly checked "notify me" and I don't have access to that email anymore.

  8. And can you please post your reply here? I mistakenly checked "notify me" and I don't have access to that email anymore.

  9. Mine and The Ravishing Mrs. TB's quiet times are also split: mine is in the morning, hers is in the evening.

  10. Patrice two questions...what do you do with your extra you barter, or feed them to Darcy or what? Also, now that you are empty nesters, how much time do you spend making meals and what are some of your typical meals. You have mentioned Don loves sandwiches so do you go simple with just the two of you? Thanks.

  11. I'm with younger daughter about the broccoli and onion stir fry. I pretty much love anything broccoli but pretty much hate anything onions, yhey make me gag too. My little hobby farm life is pretty simple too and so rewarding and peaceful. My only regret is that I did not start sooner.