The Smells of the Farm

When you think of the smells of a farm with livestock, you might wrinkle up your nose and wish it smelled better. We think that should be different, so we pay close attention to carrying capacity and avoid situations where the smells get bad. So at this time of the year, the whole farm is permeated with lilac smell. Throughout the yard and all the chicken areas, all you have to do is raise your nose into the air a little bit and you can sniff that magic spring smell of lilac. I think there must be special neurons in the brain that vibrate only to the springtime indescribable smell of lilac. Ours are humming at a fierce rate right about now! The only chicken area that doesn’t smell of lilac is inside the henhouse. That must mean that we need to get more chips to cover up the winter’s hen manure. Once it is covered up and mixed in, the bad smell goes away. Once you have done your chores in the chicken areas, it is time to go into the goat barn. The smell of goat barns is proverbial for really bad smells, but not our goat barn! Despite the very wet and rainy and cold spring, our goats have been getting out of the barn most days to go eat grass, flowers and weeds out in the pastures. The goat barn has a wonderful smell of sweet hay, a deep dark smell with licorice overtones and a long grassy finish. I love to walk from the lilac yard-smell into the barn with its reminders of the difficult but excellent hay season of last summer. The hay is still green and sweet, and the goats love to eat some before they go out to eat fresh grass — it is good for them to do that, as it prevents bloat and grass tetany and other dread disorders. Then the next chores involve a five-minute walk down the hill, through the smells and sounds of the pasture and woods, trilling birds and honeysuckle. The path down the hill goes right through a honeysuckle thicket and the flowery odor lifts you right off your feet and explodes pleasantly in your heart these mornings. Ahhh. The chores down the hill include feeding the pigs their morning whey and looking in on the recent weanlings in the Goat Mahal. The pig area ought to smell awful, right? Pigs are also proverbial for smelling bad. But if you move them often enough — which for us is about once a week– they never build up enough manure and mud to smell like pigs. And do they appreciate it! They run around their house in circles, flapping their ears and generally looking like flying pigs. And the beautiful young weanling goats are well-protected in their spacious shed, and though they still miss their mamas and the adult herd, they love the new quiet and peaceful smells and sounds of their summer camp where they will stay for the next five months until they are almost adults. Today they will be going out into the lower pasture for the first time since they came down here four days ago. They have been bored but are getting used to being their own age-cohort and evolving their own small herd of eight females. I have to go set up their fence now so they can go out. I wish you could share the wonderful smells and sounds of the lower pasture and the rest of the farm. Lovely.

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