Early Mornings, Early Demise

Egfor emits a soft sigh, reluctant to even get up. He could feel the cold on the back of his head, for his face was pressed into his husband's neck, hiding from the cold.

If I had become a saddle maker like I wished to as a child, I wouldn't have to get up this early.

Egfor lifted his head and kissed Dem's cheek, sliding out from the covers, shivering as the cold hit him. He almost laughed as Dem pulled the covers closer to him, hogging them all. He pulled on his heavier winter trousers and shirt. He grumbles softly, pulling on a tunic and a heavier wool coat. He tugs on his boots and ties back his hair. He steps over to the fireplace in their bedroom and stokes and feeds the fire, bringing warmth back into the cold room. He glances back briefly at his sleeping husband, a small smile crosses his lips.

He steps out of the bedroom, engaging in the delicate, ever changing dance of avoiding dog's tails and paws. Egfor made his way to the hearth, putting on the kettle after stoking this fire as well. He makes himself a bowl of porridge and a cup of coffee, something at least in his stomach before he got to work.

He settled at the table, quickly and quietly eating and drinking. He didn't mind this early work, truth be told. It gave him a quiet respite and calm time to himself, despite him normally being a harbinger of chaos and a loud, obnoxious man. Day to day life was busy and chaotic, with such a large family, farm, estate and everything else. The early morning hours when no one was awake except him gave him some alone time to think and meditate on his thoughts.

He stood up, depositing his mug, bowl and spoon into the wash bin. He grabbed his lantern and lit it with a piece of kindling from the fire. He pressed the back of his hand against the window, trying to figure out how cold it truly was. He tossed on a quilted wool mantle and hood. and tucked some mittens into his belt. Dunwine stretched and yawned, rising up to trot after his master.

Egfor closed the door gently behind him and looked up. Snow lazily drifted down from the sky, lightly dusting the still sleeping world. With the lantern lighting their way, the frozen grass crunched under boot and paw. 

Egfor pushed into the barn, the worn, wooden door creaking and protesting. Dunwine darts in ahead of Egfor to do his rounds, investigating everything and greeting the other animals. Egfor pauses to light a few lanterns hanging in the barn and hangs up the one he was carrying to free up his hands. He briskly rubs his hands together, moving into the feed room. He scoops up some grain from a barrel into a bucket and steps into the chicken's pen. He dumps the grain into a trough. He watches the chickens squawk, scurrying and flying past him to the food. He moves quickly, collecting the eggs discreetly into the bucket before he is found out by the hens. He sets the bucket of eggs near the door to take back inside. 

He heads back to the feed room, grabbing a pitchfork this time. He climbs up into the hay loft, tossing down a few forkfuls of hay. He scoops up some hay and carries it over to the sheep, placing in in their trough. He smiles, watching the sleepy sheep toddle over to investigate the offering of hay.

Egfor goes back and grabs more hay, carrying it over to the goats. He feeds the goats, who happily greet him with a chorus of bleats. Egfor can't resist leaning down to pet their little heads when they bound over to greet him, back ends wiggling in joy.

He goes back once again and moves to feed the cattle. He places the hay in the troughs, taking a good look around the pens before he notices something was horribly off. One of the cows was laying on her side, still and not moving. Egfor quickly casts aside the pitchfork and scales the fence, dropping down into the pen. He drops to his knees by the head of the cow, placing a hand on her side. She was still, not breathing. Egfor's breath caught in his chest, fighting back tears.

He pulled the cows head into his lap, quietly weeping as he held her. She was Egfor's first cow that he owned, the first calving on the farm. He looked up when he felt a big, soft nose bump his face. He raised a hand to gently stroke the nose of the yearling that she birthed earlier. Egfor mumbles, "Your mama, I know..." The young cow did not mind when Egfor flung his arms around its neck, seeking some sort of comfort.

After a while, Egfor picked himself up. He climbed up over the fence once more, carrying on with feeding the animals. Wodarel came in to tend to the horses. Egfor stopped the younger Dunlending, "Go get Areli. Yes, at this hour. I need her to look over this cow, to make sure it didn't die of disease or infection. If it is well, then we can feed people. I'd rather not waste."  Darel looks past Eg, seeing the dead cow. He nods quickly and wordlessly saddled up and hopped up onto a lighter riding horse. 

Egfor sighs, leading Elf out of his stall, harnessing up the draft horse. As strong as Egfor was, moving a dead cow was something he could not do himself realistically, even with Dem's help, it would be a huge struggle and likely not possible still. He opened the gate, backing Elf up into the pen. Man and horse made quick work moving the cow, with the creaking of leather and jangling of metal. Egfor closed and latched the gate once more before leading Elf outside with the cow to meet Areli. He hoped all was well with Rose, the cow. If he could help feed Dem's Estate or his family for the harder winter months, then this may be a blessing. A bitter, painful blessing.

Such is the life of a farmer.