Today is the Feast of Saint Eulalia, Virgin and Martyr, my patron saint and the patron saint of Barcelona, where I was born. I was going to write a post about her short life and martyrdom, and why I find her so intriguing, but other stuff has come up.
In the company of my saintly (but not martyred) spouse, I spent the morning doing heavy labor in the shed, making it ready for the two Nigerian Dwarf goats that we will, if all goes well, bring home tomorrow.
First, I evicted the chickens from the goat room and into their own quarters. Taking advantage of a short-lived thaw (which is now over) I shoveled out some of the accumulated chicken manure so the hens would have a relatively pleasant environment until the real thaw comes a month or two from now.
In the goat room, I put down new hay to make a cozy floor. I scrubbed and set up the frost-free water bucket. I swept down cobwebs with the barn broom. Then I looked around and checked that everything was as it should be—like one does in the guest room when expecting company–including plastic milk crates to serve as seats for visiting goat-petters.
The big project was the milking/feed storage room. Nature abhors a vacuum, so when my last set of goats went, that room became instantly crammed with flower pots, potting soil, gardening tools, a power saw, extra roofing shingles, an electric lawn mower left over from our suburban days, and a mare\’s nest of old baling twine. Today Ed and I labored for hours, moving shelves, sorting unsortable items, consigning stacks of old paper feed bags to the recycling pile, and making the place neat and clean. By noon the milking room was swept and the milking stand was set up, though I won\’t be milking until June. There was room for several bales of hay, and empty metal trash cans stood ready to hold bags of grain.
We had lunch, changed clothes, collapsed.
When I was a child in then-ultra-Catholic Spain, we celebrated saint\’s days instead of birthdays. That\’s when I got my presents, none of which I remember, except for the year when I got a pair of parakeets. Until today, that was my happiest Saint\’s Day ever. But I believe this one tops it. Hair full of cobwebs, lungs full of barn dust, visions of wee dairy goats dancing in my head, I am grateful and exhilarated by the prospect of a new adventure. I hope this time I can get it right—smaller, more manageable animals; fewer bales of hay and bags of feed to lift and carry; easier barn cleanings and, above all, less milk to deal with day after day. But wonderful milk. And cheese, as we say in Catalan, that makes the angels sing.
The tale of Saint Eulalia\’s martyrdom will have to wait until another day.