Shades of Mabel Goulter

Nov 16, 2012 | 6 comments

When Farmer Nyel’s new bionic knee went wonky a few weeks ago, it seemed expedient to take on some of his two-legged duties that heretofore I had given but little thought to – duties, that is, with regard to the girls.  Four fat hens don’t really require much on a day-in-day-out basis, but they do like their routines and I am happy to accommodate them,

Mostly, I need to open their coop door as soon after daybreak as possible, replenish their feeding pan with poultry feed, check their water supply and, on all but the stormiest days, open the gate to their run so that they can freely forage in the garden.  At dusk I make sure they have returned to their roost in the coop, check the nest boxes for eggs, and lock their door and gate against the wily predators lurking behind the rhodies.

I try to do that last bit before all the daylight has faded.  One night I was a little late and, though I had flashlight in hand, I was mightily startled to hear a sort of high whine and then a thump-thump-thump followed by silence.  It was nearby and I think may have been a deer startled into leaping back out of the yard over the east fence.  It was a bit unsettling and put me in mind of the early Oysterville schoolteacher who tripped over a cow lying in the middle of the road one dark evening.  I don’t want to be tripping over any critters on my way to the coop, that’s for sure.

Otherwise, the duties aren’t onerous at all – just simple chores that need to be done fairly much on schedule.  Nyel insists that he can do them himself but I say why hobble over 25 yards of uneven ground and back again risking yet another fall and never mind that you are using the cane – shit happens.  (It is an issue.  I’m sure other wives of stubborn farmers would understand.)

Anyway, it’s the one ‘battle’ that I’ve won, at least for the nonce.  The hardest part is the timing.  I’ve given up trying to be showered and dressed and ready to face my day before waking up the girls.  They get very impatient and, if I am late, they greet me with lots of wing-flapping and scolding clucks.  So it is that I shrug on a down vest over my bathrobe, pull on my rubber boots, fill the feed pail and head across the yard first thing in the morning.

Yesterday, Nyel snapped my picture and, had I been heading up the street instead of into the back door, I could have been a throw-back to Mabel Goulter.  In my early childhood, I used to see her heading up the road to milk her cow each morning.  I’m not sure where she kept that cow or why she felt she had to milk before breakfast (perhaps cream for her oatmeal?), but I do remember her outfit – some sort of wrap thrown over her bathrobe and rubber boots and a bucket.

I guess some things don’t change in Oysterville.


  1. Nancy

    Sydney: Another great read! In truth, you look great in the robe, vest and rubber boots…

  2. Betsy

    Sydney – it is good to be back and reading the Daybook regularly. I think you look like you just finished your morning Yoga ritual – very healthy!

  3. Jenny Valencourt

    What a beautiful picture to accompany your post ~ Dahling, you look mahvelous!

  4. Kathleen Shaw

    Utility rules! The hens don’t care about anything but timing, you actually look just fine (better than I do before my shower), and if you do slip in something in the yard (please don’t!) and fall into the s—, you don’t have to shower twice–saves money on the PUD bill!

  5. Patricia

    The Obi Wan Kanobi outfit helps you feel the “chicken force”.

  6. Stephanie Frieze

    My goodness, I’ve seen people in Oakie’s shopping in their bathrobe so I think you’re allowed to feed your hungry girls in whatever you like. I walk the dog in mine, but admittedly I usually do that in the dark or early on Sunday morning. A fun read and a great picture. I hope Nyel is soon getting around better. My uncle had to have his hip relacement revamped because it kept going out of joint. They put in a new lining and a larger ball.


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