I wake up, look at the clock and close my eyes again. Just a few more minutes of sleep, a few more minutes of having my body wrapped around Jon’s, of being warm.
When I finally open my eyes and Jon and I begin to talk, Zinnia inches her way up next to me. She puts her face in mine and I kiss her nose. It’s a game, she has to get through me to get to Jon. What she really wants is to slobber him with licks.
If I wait too long the donkeys will start braying. They’re not that far from the bedroom window, not to donkey ears anyway.
Stepping from the warmth into the cold, I put on yesterday’s clothes that I left on the chair last night. I start to feel warm again when I pull on my wool socks. I’ve heard that ninety percent of our body heat leaves through our head, but I think with me it might be the opposite. Too hot in the summer and cold in the winter, I think the heat from my body leaks out my feet.
Downstairs I pile on more layers and slip into my muck boots. By the time I get outside, I’m so bundled up, I’m almost craving the cold.
And then it happens, Lulu and Fanny start nickering, maybe even let out a long bray. The sheep are gathered around them at the gate and can’t help smiling. Suddenly I forget about myself, about the cold.
“Good morning sweeties,” I say then hand out the vegetable scraps from yesterday’s meals.
Even if it’s below zero, once I’m outside, fluffing up the hay in the feeders, taking in the familiar yet constantly changing landscape around me I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
I have my routines of letting Fate run around the sheep, mucking out the barn, filling up the water bucket. Then I tend to the chickens and this time of year the bird feeder too. On the way back to the house, I’ll pick up the branches that fell in the last wind storm for kindling.
Oh, how I dread getting out of our warm bed in the morning. And how I thrive once I’m outside feeding the animals, in the ice, and cold, the snow, rain, mud, or buggy heat of the summer.
Feeding the animals every day of the year, except for the few when we go away, keeps me connected to the outdoors. It makes me appreciate the change of seasons and be a part of the natural world in a way that nothing else can.
It helps make my life complete.