A travel moment in Pyrenees


When I woke I heard a pair of white Pyrenees as they scoured the perimeter of the farm in thick, frigid, sludgy darkness. The yogurt was frozen, I ate it anyways, and the grapefruit was cold and sweet. The crowing of roosters, the honking of geese on the loose, the mooing of cows, the bah-ing of goats and other farm melodies greeted me from a barn on a hill above the cabin and signaled morning. The snow kept them inside for much of the time, but they still wandered out, sloshing around in thick brown snow, trudging along in search of fresh air and the lush pasture that they loved to run about in warmer months. As I entered the barn, Gurney hens squawked at me from the scaffolds high above, and I was mindful to secure the waterproof hood of my raincoat to protect my face from unsolicited surprises. But when the kids discovered my arrival, they jumped with much joy and excitement, landing mostly on each other, but trying for my attention; they were ready for their bottles. The chickens were poking around, and their heads jerked nervously as they scurried here and there, waiting for the generous payload of cracked grains that would be poured into a giant serving dish on their dusty dinner table. A farm hand was milking the cows, which sometimes needed some encouragement; with a swift slap on the rear, the hesitant cow moved forward into the milk parlor, where she bartered with the farmer for some of that sweet, molasses coated cereal that was praised by even the goats. It is doubtful that the farm cats enjoyed it, but they had other delicacies to enjoy. A pair of kids were lifted from the pen and served fresh milk, and in frenzy they started to bang their mouths on the rubber teats that had been fitted onto glass soda bottles. With some awkward maneuvering, the teats were inserted into a pair of hungry heads, and the race began. Who would finish first? "Stripey" was an expert drinker, he loved his bottle. With deliberation, serious gaze and a perpetual, hypnotic oscillation of the head and neck, the suction commenced, and the breakfast was devoured. At the hog pens, I heard rattling of metal gates, and giant mud cakes emerged. They poked their noses through slits on the fencing; they were sniffing and searching for something tasty to munch on. As the grains were lifted and poured into the trough, I kept my hands as far away from their anxious, grimy mouths. They banged into each other, squealing with discomfort; they wanted to eat, and nothing would stop them. I expect that they would even eat frozen yogurt and grapefruit. I will see you later, my precious mud cakes, we will have dinner together, and this time, you can come to my place!

J Mann

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