Groundhog Day

I just can’t quite believe it. Even though the huge tractor-size snowblowers have cleared the lanes, criss-crossing the country on several occasions, the calendar tells me that in just two days beyond this weekend it will be Groundhog Day.

Everyone up in this country drives snow-tired 4x4s so the insignificant depths of six to eight inches are of little concern to them.

But in all fairness, I think a warning should be given to all groundhogs that dare to stick their nose out on the second of February. I rise rather early, to bottle-feed a couple of hungry lambs, which I have dubbed my “mutton gluttons,” and “Candy” the fattening calf.

It is not unusual for me to hear in the extended darkness of both morning and evening the back and forth answering hoots of owls or the howling chorus of a pack of hungry roving coyotes.

It is also not unusual for me to see these usual nocturnal creatures traversing the back farm hills in broad daylight. This is an indication to me that they are possibly hungry, so I just don’t want to exchange places with any old groundhog even though they get to sleep through most of the nasty weather of winter. Nope, I’ll stick to my snow boots and heavy gloves.

On the farm front, all kinds of interesting things are going on. “Beauty,” the black trotter whom I have dubbed “the old nag” just to irritate my son on occasion, is now on ample rations and shaping up beautifully.

“Donkey,” our donkey, has gained a little weight. He tamed down quickly with a little TLC and has become a real mooch. But his stubborn streak, like taxes I think, is something that we’ll have to accept as inherited for the possible duration of his life. On the other hand, he, as I, is easy to cajole with similarities to the proverbial carrot on the string.

“Bacon,” “Porkchop” and “Hammy,” our three black heritage Berkshire porkers, named by my youngest grandson, have tamed down quite nicely, grunting friendly contented recognition whenever approached with kitchen scraps or spoken to. They, too, have become expert moochers, running second only in articulations of the guttural grunting and groaning of the seemingly dying donkey.

Meanwhile, right after I bottle-feed her, “Candy” the calf jumps around, kicking up her heels in a playful manner, and she is not averse to giving me a playful bunt in the rump if she thinks I shortchanged her on the milk supply. As soon as the young, donated, mixed breed pullets start to lay daily more than the two sunny-side up eggs that adorn my breakfast plate, I’ll eggnog one raw, as my father used to do, into her diet just to put a nice shine on her hair.

In the meantime, on the grapevine comes word that an ambitious young couple on a neighbouring dairy farm have their heart set on adding to their modern dairy farming facilities by constructing a cheese factory.  They had raised a few rabbits, just as a hobby, and the agenda dictates the coming down of the rabbit hutch and the upping of the cheese factor.

I’ll bet you can’t guess where the needing-a-home rabbits and their cages are going to end up. I’ll be fair  – I’ll give you three guesses.

Take care, ‘cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins