> jumping into life.

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The day is just past dawn. Early sun shines on a new inch of snow, shimmers across the greenhouse roof. The bottle is warm in one hand; the handle of the compost pail frozen in the other. The path from house to barn is short, but windy today, and cold. The cat follows me in.

Already the chickens are chatting to themselves, or each other. The yearlings bellow in greeting, watching with interest as I heave open the side door. They've been getting frisky, and seem particularly to enjoy charging the manure bucket while I muck. They aren't so big - still a few months off full-grown - but big enough when four of them are bucking and chasing each other around what suddenly seems like a very small pen.

We suspect at least one of them has a retained testicle.
I'm getting very good at jumping the fence, quickly.

After the big boys are outside jostling each other for hay, I take the calf his milk. (Once I did the calf first, and the yearlings all stood at the fence demanding their share. They remember the bottle, and the sweet starter grain, and they aren't so interested in their pile of dried grass afterwards.)

The calf grows so fast. When I first got here - two weeks ago - I could straddle his little body while I brushed him and hold him still with my legs. Now he hits me right in the belly when he head-butts me after he's done with his milk - he's the size of a great Dane, now. When I scratch him under the cheekbones, under his jaw, he stretches his neck out and his eyes roll back in his head. When I brush him, he is constantly trying to see what I'm doing, trying to find the udder that I must have, somewhere, he's sure.

All the while, the cat watches from a hay bale under the heat lamp, purring.

These posts about your life on the farm are so lovely.

Thanks, nina. It feels very (mostly) lovely.

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