It’s become a kind of daily ritual for me. Between 3 and 4 pm, I sit on the step of the back porch and place Minnie’s bowl of food next to me. Minnie rubs up against me and I scratch her under the chin before she starts eating.
The hens are already there. Like the rest of the animals, they know when it’s time to eat.
I either place a plastic bowl with leftovers on the stone path in front of me for the chickens, or I have an old muffin or piece of bread that I break into tiny pieces and toss to them one at a time.
At some point Fate, who has been waiting patiently at the pasture gate, comes to see what the hens are eating. Fate listens when I tell her to back off. She knows she’ll get a treat eventually.
Today I saw a tiny ant running frantically back and forth with an even smaller crumb from the stale cracker I tossed to the chickens.
Everyone gets something.
I sit there for as long as it takes Minnie to eat her food. Then, Fate and I go to the barnyard.
This time of year I pick up a couple of apples that have fallen from the tree to give to Fanny and Lulu. Then I toss a handful of the smaller apples over the fence for the sheep. I fill the water bucket, scooping out any insects that might have fallen in and are still alive.
I’ll kill a fly in the house, buy rescue it from drowning in the water bowls outside.
I brush the donkeys, Lulu still has some winter hair, but Fanny is as sleek as a seal, then muck out the barn.
I used to try chasing the hens away from Minnie’s food. But it never really worked, they always came back, even if I lured them away with something as tempting as mealworms. And that only got me annoyed and frustrated.
Now it’s much better. I guess I have the hens to thank for that. They got me to slow down and appreciate this part of my day a little more.
I always loved feeding and taking care of the animals, its a nurturing and satisfying thing to do. But now, it’s become an even sweeter break in my day.