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Flying 43 solo

Lead Summary

HCP columnist

We knew that I would be alone at the farm for the better part of a week. Greg was going to help our youngest son drive a rental truck, packed with all of his worldly possessions, out to the Southwest. Adventure and studies called.

So, Greg had planned ahead.

He mowed along the road and the edges of the fields, as well as around the cabin, orchard, and goat yard. It also seemed to my dear husband that I was woefully behind on weeding the garden, so he decided to run the push mower up and down between the rows of vegetables. I was amazed at the difference that his mowing made.

I was actually able to see the cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and other assorted crops, and yes, while he was gone I curiously never did find the time to weed.

I quickly fell into the routine of solitary chores. The first thing I did each morning, as I always do, was put on the coffee water. I then turned to take down the old hand cranked grinder. The smell of freshly ground coffee really is delightful, and when the last bean falls through the hopper, I can’t wait to pull open the small wooden box below and bring it up
to my nose for a really good whiff.

As I crank, the rhythm of the old grinder reminds me of the rhythm of my life. An occasional catch, through which I gently push, and then all is as smooth as it could be.

Nightgown still on, I headed outside to do solitary chores in the early morning light. When Greg is home, we always dress for the day before we head outside, but somehow it felt just right to venture outside in my gown. I paused outside the door to pull on my rubber boots, and then, dogs at my heels, headed down to the chicken coop. The dogs ran playfully ahead, out past the coop and into the orchard.

The solar-powered chicken door had already opened at first light, and the hens were crowded by the gate to their predator proof yard, anxious to get out into the real world ,and search for those delectable edibles that only a chicken could love.

I refilled their watering can. Their feed bucket rarely needs attention during the summer. I then went up to the pigeon palace. The dogs bounded past, back from the orchard. The white pigeon was still sitting patiently on the three eggs in her nest. I changed the pigeons’ water bath, noting that they had plenty of food and clean water, and headed up to the goat yard.

The goats had been begging incessantly, ever since I first stepped outside. Only with fresh hay and feed buckets filled did they finally settle down. The dogs paced along the goat yard fence, no doubt thinking that whatever I had fed to the goats, I should also feed to them. I marveled at the creek valley’s simple sounds as I made several trips across the yard to refill the goats’ water.

A mourning dove called up on the hill. Other birds chirped and twittered in the woods around the upper field. With the goats quiet, the rest of the valley seemed to have woken up. The rooster called to his ladies, who had wandered down to the far end of the orchard.

I looked forward to my trip down rabbit row. The 3-week- old, bright-eyed, puffballs had just started to nibble at solid food and drink from the water bottles.

They seemed amazingly tame, letting me scratch behind their ears, no doubt due to our granddaughter’s weeklong visit. It seemed that every time I turned around, she had small rabbit in her lap. I checked every evening to make sure that she had not smuggled one into bed.

The last of my chores was to feed the worms and compost pile with yesterday’s vegetable scraps. I then returned to the cabin and poured, what was no doubt long boiled water, over my freshly ground coffee.

Rubber boots and nightgown still on, I went back outside, coffee cup in hand, to sit on the side deck. The dogs sat down by my side and leaned up against me. They looked up imploringly. Weren’t they deserving of breakfast, too?

Ahh, of course. I returned to the cabin and brought their breakfast outside. We sat there, the three of us, enjoying the morning, long after the last of their breakfast was gone. Only then did it occur to me that I was far from alone. By my count, all 43 of us were ready for the day. No doubt that I eagerly looked forward to Greg’s return, but I was also quite proud, that even flying 43 solo, we were all faring rather well in the meantime.

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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