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Cool morning chores

Lead Summary

HCP columnist

I woke up at 6 a.m. and rolled over in the warmth of the covers for just one more minute.

I knew that as soon as I stepped out of bed, I would feel the chill of the cold floor on the bottoms of my feet. I climbed down from the loft and headed straight for the wood stove.

I opened the vent, lifted up the top lid, and reached for the old iron shovel that stood propped up against the wall. It felt cool in my hand. I listened to the familiar scrape and clank as I used the shovel to rake the ashes across the stove's bottom grate, and then made a pile of the glowing coals.

The day's supply of logs were already stacked nearby in a large, cracked crock pot. I carefully placed several logs against the stove's back wall and then closed the top lid and watched as the draft over the hot coals quickly caught the logs on fire. When I shut down the damper, the flames instantly subsided.

First chore finished, I turned to the cook stove and set a kettle of water to boil over the propane flame. Then, I pulled on a pair of wooly warm winter socks, tucked my flannel nightgown into my favorite snuggly fleece pants, and pushed my flannel gowned arms through the sleeves of a warm fleece jacket.

I grabbed my leather farm gloves and stepped outside onto the front porch. The dogs rushed past. I pushed my feet, toes pointed down, into the tall rubber boots that stood waiting just beside the door.

As I walked across the yard to the row of rabbit cages, my footsteps followed me as indentations in the frosted grass. I filled the rabbit feeders first, and it occurred to me that a rabbit coat would certainly keep a wintertime farmer toasty warm. Hmmm ... I removed the rabbits' frozen water bottles and piled them in a large bucket that I keep just for this purpose, and returned to the cabin.

No sooner had I opened the front door, than my glasses steamed over. I had to peer over the top of the lenses to see my way as I placed the bucket of frozen bottles beside the stove to thaw.

I heard the dogs romping outside and looked up through the side window just in time to see them chasing each other around the cabin.



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Back outside, I fed the begging goats, knocked the ice out of their water buckets, and carried the emptied buckets over to the front spigot for refilling.

I tried, unsuccessfully, not to slosh out any water on my return trip. As I opened the chickens' front door, they veritably spilled out of the coop and hastily wobbled, in their half flying run, to join the goats and peck up whatever grain the goats had spilled.

My last stop was with the pigeons. They cooed gently as I filled up their feeder and swapped out their frozen water bottle for a fresh one.

Again, I had to peer over the top of my fogged glasses as I retrieved the now thawed rabbit bottles.

Fresh water at the front spigot and my morning chores were done.

As I returned to the cabin, I could hear the whistle of the kettle on the stove. Soon, the aroma of morning coffee would fill the cabin. I was already wide awake, and hardly needed the caffeine, but I knew that the warmth, from the inside out, would certainly feel good.

Less than an hour later, I walked into the courthouse, papers ready to file for my first case of the day. I smiled at the guard as my lawyer heels clicked across the first floor hallway, and I could not help but wonder what a person's clothes really tell about a person.

I smiled to myself imagining what the guard would have thought if I had walked through the metal detector dressed and ready for my cool morning chores.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at

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