Every night before bed I check on the chickens in the coop and count their feet on the roost (right now it’s ten feet). I say “Good night chickens and thank you for the eggs.” If I didn’t get any eggs, I thank them anyway. Brownie went over two weeks without laying when we recently introduced the cuckoo marans into the coop and I thanked her for the eggs she’s given me and the eggs she will give me. Once the cuckoos began laying, Brownie joined the party and now I thank them every night again.
Realizing I haven’t been thanking the cheeps (what we call the non-laying pullets), I decided to mix things up a bit the other night.
I said goodnight to the chickens and wished them a safe night.
I said goodnight to the cheeps and wished them a safe night.
I said goodnight to the sheep and wished them a safe night.
I said goodnight to the garden and wished it a safe night.
I said goodnight to the elderberries and fruit trees and wished them a safe night.
I didn’t say goodnight to the pasture or sugar bush, but I took notes for next time.
These little rituals are increasingly important to me. Almost like prayers. Even simple things like collecting eggs, or giving the sheep their mineral mix. Watering the carrots, waving the hose on the "cone/full" setting at half trigger. Trying to get rainbow prism in the sunset spray. They ease my mind and help me relax and add some closure to the day. And connection with the land and the animals and plants I have stewardship over.
After stacking hay in the barn, I took the dogs swimming in Pond Brook, our favorite summer spot. This ritual has become invaluable for me, as well. Walk right into the water with my running shoes still on, wade almost waist-deep, dip down and feel the chill of the mountain water absolutely destroy any heat clinging to my body. Sit back and kick my feet up and listen to the falls. Smell that potent pine and study the light and shadow dance through the trees, its own kind of river.
Wilder likes to swim across and hang out on the clearing overlooking the pool. I’ve called that spot Wilder’s Camp. Wilder is the Clark to my Lewis. And the big rock that overlooks the lower pool I’ve named Pippy’s Cliff, because Pip loiters over it to watch me swim, ten feet above. A tiny fluffy gargoyle. A frumpy grandma on the beach. He prefers a good book and a bottle of suntan lotion to a swim. Poor dog has no idea what he’s missing out on.