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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Copyright. El Chivito. Please do not repost.

He went out the side door that faced the pasture. Coffee in hand he took a last sip and set the chipped crockery cup down onto the oily, sagging table next to the door. Stretching, he looked as he always did at the mountain that delineated his horizon. Still dark in it's somnolence, the sun from the opposite side of the sky-arc not yet touching it.
They were waiting at the fence for him as they always did. Some at least. The young. The aggressive. The older and more passive still down, working on the last of the night's cud. Deer-marked, their flat brown and white striped faces and erect ears watched him.
He crossed to the chicken yard that bordered the pasture and closed the gate and strapped it to keep the more creative from bulling their way in and bingeing on chicken feed. Then he went around to the pasture gate and opened it. They lined up in their inscrutable order to leave the pasture and access their morning treat; browsing bits of Cypress bark off the trees to which they were otherwise forbidden access. He greeted each as they came out, feeling a suspect udder here, looking at noses for signs of illness, touching ears to gauge body heat. Giving each a final pat he let them go one at a time. The curious one went immediately to the chicken yard gate to ensure that he had not forgotten to strap it shut. Satisfied, she dejectedly joined the others.
Carrying a bale of cedar shavings and a hay fork he first went to the pen of the old crippled one. The others were all her progeny but would now try to kill her in her weakness and so she stayed protected and alone in her pen. Years before he had stubbornly refused to put her down during an ugly illness and they had bonded and she had recovered and given birth to two healthy twin does. Arthritis now crippled her and he could find no cause for it. It ate at him. He cursed it's unfairness.
Her ears perked and she motioned to him with her nose, waving him in. He unstrapped the gate and opened it and set the fork and the bale of shavings to one side, out of her way. She struggled to rise and he bent to help her, pulling her weaker left front leg up and out and helping her to her knees. While she kneewalked around in a leftward circle he forked out the old, wet bedding and replaced it with fresh, cedar scented shavings just as she lunged her self into position and groaning in either pain or frustration or both laid herself down in her fresh bed. He knew she was unhappy. Not free to roam and browse with her offspring, not free to do what she was born to do and yet he could not put her down. Not yet. While the light in her eyes shone for him, while she still waved him in each morning he could not do it.
He bent to wish her good morning and still panting heavy from the effort of movement she licked his face all over and his hair too. He went out of the pen and strapped the gate shut. The others in their hunger had begun to push and shove each other and argue over bits of leaves or tree bark. He took a leaf rake and raked the previous night's wasted hay up into a pile and forked it into the wheel barrow and hauled it out to the far end of the pasture and dumped it and spread it around. Then he hauled the hose to the water buckets and troughs and filled them with the day's water.
He went out the pasture gate and shut it behind him so none could get back in and went to the hay shed and began to parcel out the morning's feed. Then he carried it back through the pasture gate and again shut it behind him so none could follow. They grouped at the gate, butting and pushing and some became angry with others. He stopped inside the gate and waited and they looked at him. He allowed them back in only if their backhairs were down and there was no sign of trouble. Fighters would have to fight outside the pasture and not be allowed to trample the fresh feed. When all were in and calm and eating each in her own place he carried a flake of hay to the old one and entering her pen he broke off a piece of hay and set it before her and put the rest in the back of the pen where she would not spoil it should she decide to move. She looked at him. He told her it was alright and no others would take her hay and she buried her nose in the hay and pulled out a great clump and began chewing it. He went out of the pen and out of the pasture and put the clip and the strap on the pasture gate. Then he went to the poultry house and unhooking the eye hooks securing the door let the chickens out. They came out one by one, the old rooster first. He counted them and looked them over for any signs of illness or distress. When they were all out he left the poultry yard and walked back to where he could look over the entire scene one more time.
The sun had lit the mountain and crept down to the level of the barn roof. In the morning cool the light on the metal barn roof had drawn a congregation of flies warming themselves. He thought he should spray them but he did not. Shucking off his muck boots outside the door he went back into the house to feed himself.
 

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Oh wow can you ever write! Tears came to my eyes with your compassionate description of the old one.
Wel done Elchivito, will there be more?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks. I hope there'll be more but I don't have much control over it. It just comes out. Often it's a while between "eruptions". This morning It occurred to me that a vignette about chores might be interesting. Then I had to go to a profoundly boring meeting that lasted all day and it bugged me the whole time. When I got home a while ago I just sat down and cracked a cold one and wrote it out and haven't edited it or anything. Thought I'd post it here where someone might appreciate it. Glad you did.
 
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