Hobby Farm: A Daily Commitment

I love my little backyard farm and it has become part of my daily routine.  Before I leave for work each morning, I make the rounds with my three-pack in tow.  First I walk down the hill to the pond and check on Richard.  My beautiful male duck greets me with quacks, tail quivers and quick circles in the icy water.  He thinks he is a wild duck but I know better.  He still eats his food from a ceramic bowl.

Next, I trudge back up the hill, glancing at the bee hives.  It's still too early for any activity.  The chickens already spotted me on my way down to the pond and are cackling loudly, lined up by the gate and hoping for a treat.  Berries?  Apples?  Bananas?  If the fountain has iced over into a beautiful fairyland sculpture, I have complaining chickens trying to herd me to the corner to get me to fix their water source.  They watch me break up the frozen water with a small garden trowel and they gobble up the bits of ice that land on the ground.

Finally, I check on my newest duck members.  Two female rouen ducks and three drakes are settled in  the enclosed duck area with my tiny mallard call duck.  They aren't sure of me yet and hide behind Puddle Duck Pub, heads peaking around the corner to see if I am giving them food. 

A similar routine occurs each evening when I return home.  This time, I collect the eggs, too and watch the bees make their final landing into the hive.  It doesn't matter if it's too hot, too cold, raining, sleeting, windy, or stormy.  Keeping a hobby farm is a responsibility as well as a source of happiness and a stress reliever.

I currently am fighting bronchitis and the last thing I really want to do at 6:45 in the morning is my routine.  It's draining.  I'm so tired.  Breathing is a challenge.  So I start a little earlier and take my time.  This morning, I opened the top latch on the duck fence and then stooped down to pull up the latch on the bottom that fits tightly in place.  The spring that The Englishman recently installed to bring the door back into place, creaked open as I entered.  I let the door go too quickly and it slammed into place, startling my fine feathered friends.  I quickly filled the feeder with grain and turned to leave.  The door wouldn't budge.  The top was fine but with dread, I realized that the problem was with the bottom.  I was positive that the bolt had fallen back into place, locking me inside.  I quickly checked my pocket to make sure that I had brought my cell phone with me.  I did not want to call my husband back from the start of his commute because I had stupidly locked myself into the duck compound.  I looked around at his craftsmanship and knew I couldn't escape easily.  Before making the call, I gave the bottom of the gate a little tap with my garden clog.  Nothing.  I was impatient, sick and had six cackling ducks peering around their house at me.  I gave the bottom of the gate the hardest kick I could muster.  The gate slammed open and I quickly leaped out, my thin shawl billowing around me like a super hero cape.  I secured the gate and retreated up to the house swinging my empty bucket.  As I placed it outside the garage, I thought better of that and placed it on the floor of my car to take on my long commute to work.  After all…I still am sick!