Tonight I worked on cleaning the barn up a bit, mostly just swept the wide planks of the breezeway until my nose and throat were full of dust. As I cleared the fine silt away, and the grain of the beams showed, I realized that they are all worn smooth. It made me want to touch the soft grain of them, so smooth that they shine a bit. I have no idea how old the barn is really, but it's old. It is no longer square in any way, and it looks at though it has been slowly settling for a long time. It's two stories tall, and I can imagine days of throwing hay down into the stalls from the hay loft. Our cow and calf live behind the barn in a large pen with a small, four-sided building with a hay bunk in it. It's quite snug, they're always in it when the wind or snow blows.
I have been working with Ruby so that she is more relaxed during milking, and this evening we had a break-through of sorts. She chewed cud while I was milking tonight! Now, normally this would be no big news flash. Cows chew cud. But they only chew their cud when they are relaxed - very relaxed. She has not done this before while being handled (not even when we were just brushing her). I can't help but feel a sort of elation when we achieve little things like this together (her and I) because we have both fumbled terribly through this whole "milk cow" process and have been short with each other off and on for longer than I'd like. Knowing a cow this well is a new experience for me, and an intriguing one.
Opal is changing as well, she's slowly settling down and letting me touch her more. She's not quite as ticklish as she was when she was new. Soon she'll have a thick hide like her mama and will beg to be scratched. Ruby is shedding currently, so she is a glutton for being rubbed/brushed. I can't blame her, my skin would itch like crazy if I had lived outside all winter too.
We have a new cat in the barn, a black and white tom cat it looks like. He is wild, but has become more comfortable enough in the last few days to let me see him while he waits for food. It is so quiet while I milk usually that I can hear the cats and birds moving in the barn, as well as the cows pacing outside and occasionally bawling for their breakfast. Such a heavenly thing - the quiet - when my days are usually filled with the joyful sounds of a happy home.