Farming as Reality, or Sweetbreads has a Chicken on Her Head

Nevat playing in the leaf pile, one of many each day's wonderful moments

I was on the phone with my Mom recently, just recounting the tales of the day and so-forth, pretty typical conversation. As I was remembering our day it occurred to me that farming is now our reality and stuff that used to seem ridiculous to us was now just another moment in the day. The particular instance that brought on this realization goes as follows:

We went out for our standard morning chores. With all the rain we've had (I swear it must be 20-25in since Dec 1st) things have gotten pretty muddy. So muddy, in fact, our truck was stuck for about 4 days until we could find someone with a big enough truck to get it out. Over that time we resorted to pushing a wheel-barrow with feed and hay to all the animals and using our 4wd Subaru for anything that required a vehicle.

So I push on out the wheel-barrow and we feed the pigs and give them a good morning scratch and they grunt a lot and eat like pigs and we move on to see the goats and chickens. Since the chickens have only been with us for about a week we've yet to let them out of their coop. We want them to know it's home, so after 2 weeks or so we'll start letting them out. For now, however, if I need to do something in the coop, they'll be in there with me. 

That wouldn't be so bad in itself, except the only way in the coop is through a large metal gate that folds down to the ground to form a ramp... and it weighs a ton... and it would expose an entirely open side for the chickens to jump out if it were pulled down. Another thing that would happen if we put the gate down is that the goats would go inside. Chickens out, goat inside, definitely not the the goal.

So our solution is to lower the gate a bit and prop it up with stick. That way we have a crack at the top to put feed and water in and out and there's no way for anything to escape/enter. Seems perfect, and it was, but the chickens kept laying their eggs on the floor of the coop and there's no way to get them unless I go inside and pick them up. We have trap-doors that open to the nesting boxes, but you can't reach the floor from them. 

Which means that I have to get inside the coop basically everyday, which means the gate needs to come down enough for me to climb in, which is pretty far. This requires Sweetbreads to guard the door, keeping chickens in and goats out. Not so easy when there's 12 chickens and 11 goats, each wanting what the other's got.

So today as I climb in the coop I hear Sweetbreads saying, "No, no you stay out. Oh no, get out of there!" and that's when I knew a goat climbed in with me. Sure enough, I turn around and one of our Alpines, Springbok, quickly scampered up behind me. At that moment I turn around and see one of the Barred Rocks fly up onto Sweetbreads' head as she leans in to pull Springbok out. The chicken starts squawking like mad, the goat starts eating the chicken food, and Sweetbreads doesn't quite know what to do, but seems very calm about the whole thing. 

I look back at her and don't even blink. Springbok gets a little nudge and jumps out of the coop, the chicken flies off Sweetbreads' head into the pasture and finds a place to hide and I climb out of the coop to go get it. I catch the chicken and back into the coop it goes. We quickly shut the gate, feed the dogs and head back to the house since it's 30 degrees outside. No mention of the events that just took place.

In fact, I didn't even think of it again until I was recollecting the events of the day with my Mom. If such a morning had ocurred on our first day out here it would've been all we talked about. Now it didn't even bear mentioning! Yet when I was telling my Mom all three of us were cracking up. I'll never forget looking at Sweetbreads with her head in the coop and a chicken perched on top. Wish I could've snapped a pic.

With so much else going on farming is definitely reality, but it's important to have a good laugh and recollect the little moments that mean everything. 


Unsolicited Farm Drop-Ins

Don't mind me, just taking a stroll through your farm

One of our blog-friends, Meg Paska, over at Brooklyn Homesteader recently opined on an interesting topic. It's something I had been meaning to post about, but kept forgetting. The topic is Unsolicited Farm Drop-Ins. People that stop by the farm randomly without forewarning. Meg's post basically said, "Stop. Call or text us first and make sure your visit is timely for us. Farmers are busy people and you can't just come up here and interrupt our day (or show yourself around the farm if we're not here)."

To be sure, we don't have near the foot-traffic that Meg does on her farm. One reason is that we don't know a whole lot of people out here and we're not close enough to a city for any of our city-friends to make a quick trip out. In addition, Meg has a budding CSA business, popular farm classes, and other things to bring customers out to the farm. We're not quite there yet.

However, we too get random farm drop-ins on occasion. And when we first moved out here I felt the same as Meg. However, over time I developed a different stance... and here's why: 

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Hard Work and Long Hours

Little Willow coming along for a paddock shift. Goats are lucky Izzy's not around to witness them licking her food bowl!This is a follow-up to @shmeedie’s questions from Twitter a couple weeks ago. The question was this:

I would love to see a post about how you're adjusting to the long hours, hard work, and general transition to farm life.

The first post addressed Social Isolation on the farm. This post is about adjusting to the labor intensity and the long hours. Same as the last post, I can’t comment for Sweetbreads since we have our own roles and responsibilities on the farm.

The hard work is something I looked forward to, so it hasn’t been too much of a surprise for me. I got restless in the city. I continue to work a day-job, so yes the hours are tough sometimes. I do an hour or two’s worth of work in the morning and at least two hours at night. That means waking up around 5:30am, working til around 7am and then working again from 6pm til 8pm or later. I don’t know what will happen when it starts getting dark closer to 6pm, but we’ll figure it out.

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