Early this morning, as I sat and sipped my coffee, my mind drifted to thoughts of many years ago....hundreds of years ago...when farming and life in this area was certainly a lot different than today. We have electricity and lights; clear vinyl covering over openings that allow light in and keep wind out...Our barns are comfy by yesteryears standards. They closed doors and windows with shutters or wooden doors, blocking out the light all day long. Glass was hard to come by and seldom used, as wire was used to keep animals in and predators out, but allow light to illuminate the interior of the barns and outbuildings. In the winter, shutters were closed and light lost...trading light for warmth. It was work enough to keep the family and yourself warm in those days. There were no automatic oil burners with thermostats to keep the house warm. Instead you slept in a chair in front of the fireplace you were constantly feeding wood to...all night long. Water was not readily available from a freeze proof hydrant in or near the barn as we have it. No, the farmer of long ago had to trudge to a creek, bucket in hand and chop a hole in the ice, dip and carry water to the waiting livestock and chickens. This had to be done several times a day, due to the freezing temperatures and lack of heated bowls and buckets like we now have. The farmer also had to carry water from the same stream to his home, unless he had the luxury of an open pit well.
All these things had to be done as well as going out to hunt for food which they could put on the table. Food storage at that time was poor also, so it was important that one hunt for fresh meat daily. The wife had worked diligently throughout the summer and fall months to put up and store as much fruit and vegetables as she could, dependant upon the available storage procedures of the times.
Any way you look at it, it was a tough life for the pioneers of yesterday.
I thought about all this on the way to the barn.....and how fortunate we were to have warm, comfy barns and chicken coops...and the heated egg stand, which keeps our eggs from freezing all winter long and affords customers 24/7 availability of eggs, honey and jams. Everything was as usual as I entered the barn, fed the sheep and alpacas....gathered eggs, fed and watered the chickens and ducks. I then went into the bunny brothel to take care of the Angora bunnies and found BG dead. Sitting in her comfy little wire cage with water, feed and the grass hay I fed her last evening. She was still sitting comfortably next to the nest box, as if alive. In fact, I talked to her as I walked by, feeding Harry...her neighbor, not realizing she had died during the night, until I stopped at her cage to feed her and noticed that she was in the same position as when I arrived and talked to her earlier. Even with all the comforts available to us, the animals die. Not often, but they do still die. BG was healthy and happy. What happened, we do not know. I will harvest her fur before disposing of her and that will be all we have to remember her, except for the pictures we have. It seems only fitting that Vick process her fiber into something we can keep, rather than dispose of it with her.
Life for a farmer still has its sad moments as they face loss of the animals to death. Some things never change......
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