When Life Attacks on a Farm

The week started with a bang and hasn’t slowed down yet.  Let’s see, my first indication that life was planning to mutiny against me was when I sat sipping my coffee and getting ready to call my mom on Sunday morning. It was a peaceful morning and I had settled down next to the open window , enjoying the whiff of the fresh morning air. Then a sudden racket broke my tranquil moment.

 Apparently Crack Shot had gotten his horns stuck in the fence. He’s never done that before and he was crackshot 0116bawling like a baby. I yelled for him to hold his horses and I would be right out. With a sigh, I set down my coffee, grabbed some shoes and went out. I wandered out in my PJ’s thinking it wouldn’t take me but a minute to free his horns, however just as I was getting close I saw him give a giant heave trying to free himself, unfortunately it backfired and I saw the fence act as a slingshot, whipping his body around. When he landed with a hard thud I was horrified to see that he looked like something out of a bad horror movie. His head faced one way and his body another. Since he wasn’t related to anything in the owl family I was convinced he had broken his neck. I ran into the pasture double time and was so relieved to see him breathing. However, with the odd angle he was contorted into his breathing was labored. I tried to free his horns but he had somehow woven them into both the layer of cattle panels AND the fence. I tried to calm him down and then ran for tools. Of course the tools I needed were going to be in the shop on the other end of the property. I grabbed keys on my way past the house, jumped into the jeep and broke the land speed record getting to the shop. I rooted around until I found the giant bolt cutters and a crow bar and raced back up the house. I went into the pasture and began the task of trying to position the giant bolt cutters between the two layers of fence while Karma was playfully head butting me the whole while. I felt like I was suffering from multiple personalities as I gently coo-ed to Crack Shot trying to keep him calm and then turning slightly and yelling for Karma to ‘”knock it the heck off!” I freed him fairly quickly and he jumped up and shook as if brushing off the whole event  and he was even sweet to me for about a whole minute.  I sat back trying to get my heart back into to somewhat of a normal rhythm,  covered in sweat, my pajamas splattered in  mud and other things and thought that this was my allotment of excitement for the entire week…… I was wrong.  I was just getting started.

 The next morning as I was doing chores in my usual pre-coffee stupor I kept thinking I heard LadyButt crying. I went back and checked the chicken coop, thinking I had locked her inside, but didn’t see her. I checked the hay storage and didn’t see her….and then I looked up. From my last incident, I knew what this meant, and I was right. She had somehow gotten up on top the barn roof and was stuck. What proceeded was pretty much an exact duplicate of the blog I wrote earlier this year (see: Adventures of LadyButt  )

ladybutt stalking 1115 EDIT

LadyButt in all her fierce glory.

 At this point I should have seen the writing on the wall and known that the week was cursed. A smart move would have been to wrap everything that would hold still in bubble wrap, fortify my coffee with a healthy slug of Bailey’s Irish Cream (or a shot of whiskey)and hunker down.  But I’ve never claimed to be particularly smart. So we decided to tempt the fates and take the hay truck and  pick up a load of local grass. As we were driving around the field, tossing bales of hay up into the back of the flatbed we must have hit a high spot. I say that because as we were getting ready to leave the field Hubs looks over at me and says mildly, “the brakes are feeling a little spongy”. This is never a good thing to hear, especially not when you’re away from home and hauling. I thought I did the appropriate thing and just ignored him. I have a theory that  if you ignore things then they won’t really happen. We got out of the field and then Hubs crawled under the truck and saw the brake fluid happily running out of the back brake line. Apparently we had tore open part of the brake line when we hit the high spot. Damn, another theory blown.  I wish I could say I was surprised but really the way things were going, I kind of expected it, losing our brakes, getting hit by lightening, I mean something was going to happen.  Hubs examined the damage and pronounced it un-repairable with the tools we had with us. He used a wrench to pinch the line shut as best he could, and the guy who’s field we were in gave us a couple bottles of brake fluid. We topped off the reservoir and we headed off for home with a wish and a prayer. It was a quiet,  white knuckle drive and Hubs mostly relied on downshifting, avoiding the brakes all together,

me and hay 2 1215

Unloading a truck load of hay from last fall.

when possible.  Thankfully, we were able to make it home without any other major incidents. By Wednesday and Thursday I had learned my lesson. I was in full on survival mode and just doing what was necessary. Those days eked by with no loss of life or limb.  Sheesh, some weeks are just more exciting than others. I always wonder if this is some type of cosmic payback for something I did  in my wild and crazy teen years. If so I probably have quite a few more of these weeks coming to me. But that’s ok, even with everything going sideways I’m still so blessed to get to live this amazing life.

 Confession: I wrote this post on Tuesday night but didn’t want to post until I was fairly sure I was going to survive the rest of the week.  I still have a day to go but I’m taking the gamble and posting. Wish me luck.

Noxious and Poisonous Weeds

It’s that time of year again, the time when I need to get out to the do some pasture management.  I try to go walk the pastures at the beginning of spring and again partway through summer to pull any noxious or poisonous weeds. Ok so technically spring started months ago, but as usual I’m playing catch up.

This year my biggest foe is the foxglove. It’s popping up everywhere! We have the tansy pretty much under control but the foxglove decided I needed another challenge in my life. Both of these plants are considered toxic, but to be honest I’ve seen the goats nibble on them and they’re still kicking. Now before I start getting hate mail, let me say I do my best to pull the poisonous plants but am I going to get all of them? No. Not even close. I can however pull them before the foxglove seeds and make sure that it’s not the most prevalent thing growing in my pasture. My goats mostly avoid the toxic plants but I see no reason to make it easy for them. If the goats really want to eat it they’re going to have to hunt for it.

karma weeding-1

Years ago I took a master goat class and I remember some guy saying he didn’t worry about poisonous plants because goats could tell what was poisonous and what wasn’t. I listened to this in disbelief as he slurped down his diet soda and munched on his Cheetos. Dude, we’re supposed to be the enlightened species and most people don’t eat avoid stuff that’s bad for us but you expect the goats to do better?

Finally, after working in the pasture for a few hours, I went back out to battle the blackberries. I get lots of people messaging me saying to let the goats eat the blackberries and I wish I could. Our little farm backs up to 3500+ acres of forest and until I get the perimeter fence up, letting the goats loose to chow down on blackberries is just not a good idea if I want to get them back in the pasture at any point in the near future. So, until the fencing is done I will continue to battle blackberries by hand and occasionally pull out a goat or two to help. Karma is a favorite for this because she’s convinced she’s really a dog and follows me around the farm as if she had an invisible leash connecting us. Which occasionally makes the other ‘real dogs’ a bit jealous. But that’s a tail (pun intended) for another day.

murphy wanting attention-1

Murphy must have felt that Karma was getting a bit too much of my attention.

Motherhood and Goats

Viney headshotWe’re under attack from the blackberry bushes. No, that’s not a metaphor, nor am I being overly dramatic. They are truly trying to take over. They’re encroaching into the yard, across the driveway and slowly but surely gaining ground toward the house. I dream about them at night. More like nightmares really. That one day we’ll wake up and find that they’ve completely encompass the house and we’ll become prisoners in a blackberry vine cell. It’s not pretty.

Yesterday while I was out watering and weeding the kitchen herb bed and flowers I decided to pull out a goat or two to help with the blackberry problem. After all I have goats, they view blackberry leaves as a form of goatie crack cocaine. I figured it’s a treat for them and saves me some work. Win-win!

I pulled out a couple girls and Murphy laid down close by to keep an eye on them (I’m not sure if he’s guarding them or keeping them under surveillance because he views them as suspicious) and I went back to weeding . It was during this perfect moment with the sun shining brightly, a slight breeze that floated over the skin and the buzz of fat, lazy bumble bees that I had a deep bonding moment with my goat, Viney.

She had wandered behind the shed, out of view from the rest of the goats in the pasture. Personally, I think she was hiding from her kids. They were yelling to her and she was quietly ignoring them as she munched away contently on her blackberry bushes. Watching this I immediately flashed back in my memory to a time when my kids were small and I would steal downstairs while they were playing and sneak a bite or two of the hidden “good” chocolate. I think I had the same content look on my face as Viney did munching on those blackberry leaves. As I was thinking about this Viney glanced over at me and our eyes met. Just then I connected with her on a level I never thought possible. We were both moms who hid from our kids while we raided the secret stash. It was a profoundly bonding moment…..and then she went after my roses and I had to chase her away from the flower beds pretty much killing the moment.  But for that brief moment we connected as only mothers can. Sharing the struggle of deep love for our children…..and the desire not to share our snacks. Motherhood really is a sisterhood that stretches across all boundaries.

 

Goat Feeders, Mosquitoes and Other Life Questions

Ramblings from the farm:

Well it’s day two of unemployment and its started with a bang. We’ve been exploring new ways to feed the bucks because a) they are so incredibly wasteful (I’m pretty sure that’s a male gene thing) and b) whenever we’ve tried to modify their feeder they’ve managed to get their head stuck and yell pitifully until we rescue them (again, I’m pretty sure it’s a male gene thing).

The most recent modification to their feeder apparently did not meet with their approval. I went out this morning to feed and found the feeder tipped over on its side and pushed up against the gate. Did I mention Crack Shot was shoved in between the gate and the feeder and was sweetly calling to me? That’s right the buck who normally wants to kill me was suddenly being loving. That alone was enough to freak me out.

I tried every which way to reach in and push, pull or manhandle the feeder out of the way, concerned that poor Crack Shot was stuck. Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit it took me a good 5-10 minutes of struggling with the feeder, all the while battling the million and one mosquitoes that were dive bombing my head, before I realized…..HE’S A GOAT, for goodness sakes if he really wanted to move he would climb over it, because …….HE’S A GOAT! I decided to test this theory by chucking a compact flake of hay over my head into the center of the pen and sure enough he jumped over the feeder in one bound and ran to eat. *sigh* Sometimes, I’m a little slow.

I managed to pry the gate open far enough to squeeze through and set the feeder upright. I then rescued the hay off the ground (don’t judge, that stuff’s like gold!) and put it into the feeder. Ok, all was right in the world again. Now off to feed the girls.

As I was feeding the girls I heard a giant crash and found the boys had tipped their feeder again! Did I mention they really don’t like the new modifications to their feeder? They aren’t shy in expressing themselves either. This time to make things a little more interesting Crack Shot climbed inside the feeder. Obviously he felt I needed more of a challenge.  Somehow, I managed to coax, cuss and prod him into leaving his new found food fort and righted the feeder AGAIN.

At this point I decided I needed to return to the house and have my first cup of coffee. Clearly I was in a battle of wits with the goats and it wasn’t going well for me. I needed reinforcements in the form of caffeine.

So here I sit, sipping my coffee and pondering life’s great questions, like the best way to feed a goat without all the waste and why God created mosquitoes. While these are great questions and worthy of contemplation, I suppose I better get to work. On the agenda this week is fixing up our old horse trailer.

trailer after bath

I started off pressure washing it to knock off as much dirt and rust as I could. It did okay but there was still a lot left to do. Next came sand blasting. But our sand blaster just wasn’t a up to such a large project. Hmmmm, maybe a grinding wheel? Except we couldn’t find our grinding wheel. *sigh* on to Plan D. I’m headed out to start sanding the trailer. Between the mosquitoes, the hard labor and getting sand and paint grit in places I’m pretty sure the Lord never intended, I’ve got to admit I’m not looking forward to the task. But tackling projects with what we have on hand is how we roll on this farm. Besides after I finish the sanding I get to play with Bondo. A new farm skill to add to my farm resume.

 

Until next time my farm friends.

M~

The Vacationing Farmer

horse head shot EDITGoing on vacation is always a challenge. There’s juggling schedules with time off work, kids out of school, arranging flights, piecing together people to pick up the mail, water the plants, etc. When you have a farm, vacation takes this already intensive planning process and magnifies it by a million or two. To be fair, I’ve never felt deprived that we don’t get to travel to far away destinations. We’ve worked hard to build a life that doesn’t make us feel we need a break. We enjoy every minute on our farm and leaving it isn’t usually something that I want to do. However, my son’s 21st birthday was coming up and the family wanted to celebrate it BIG.horse rolling 1 EDIT

As a farm owner, I was a little worried about the process of planning a vacation, but it all seemed to fall into place with little effort on my part. The family all got time off work, we found an amazing package deal to Iceland, and then one of my best friends offered to stay out at the farm, taking care of all the animals and watching over the place……in her words, “it’s going to be an adventure.” Let’s face it, finding someone willing to watch your dog is a Godsend; finding someone willing to watch your entire farm……it’s a miracle only rivaled by the second coming of Christ (no disrespect intended). We had our friend go through 3 practice runs to make sure she was comfortable with our routine and then off we went.

I have to give a serious shout out to my farm sitting friend. She’s a newbie to farm life and was basically looking for a chance to test drive the lifestyle. It takes a serious adventure addict + a thrill seeking personality to step into someone else’s farm with no experience and give it a whirl. Hats off Lisa!riding landscape shot EDIT

When we returned to the farm, I found a lovely note from her that summed up her time on the farm.

Here are her words:

1) I will forever have the smell of chicken poop ingrained into my nostrils;

2) The big pig sneezed things on me. Later, I stopped by the store and had a super hot guy checking me out. Since this NEVER happens, I figured I either had pig snot hanging off me somewhere or pig snot is an aphrodisiac;

3) I think you guys should take more vacations. I am more than happy to farm sit.

I feel like a proud parent. More importantly, I accomplished some rather lofty goals, including:

a) creating a new farm addict;

b) assaulting and traumatizing her olfactory senses in true farm style; and

c) totally and completely corrupting her fashion style by getting her to accessorize with pig snot. (*It’s not a look everyone can pull off).

I’d also like to point out that I did all this when I wasn’t even in the country!! Sometimes my multi-tasking skills amaze even me. Oh, in case you were wondering, the trip to Iceland was amazing.Me and horse EDIT

Ramblings: Farm fashion woes

Ursa 0116I freely admit that clothes shopping is not my forte. In fact, I had no idea until my daughter hit adulthood and started giving me clothes advice, that I really sucked at dressing myself. Who knew?? It’s not like anyone told me…….to my face. I’m pretty sure most people looked forward to the day when their mother quit choosing their clothes and they were able to dress themselves. Me? I hint, cajole and beg my mother to buy my clothes and spare me the whole experience.

It’s not that I don’t want to look nice, I just don’t place a lot of importance in it. I rarely take time to put together a nice outfit, let alone shop for one. When you add in the fact that I am also incredibly cheap, well it takes the torture of shopping to a whole new level. The amount stores charge for things that I consider cheaply made and God awful ugly, to boot….well, it should be a crime and I have a hard time making myself part with hard earned cash for what their selling at the local stores. Occasionally someone in the family takes pity on me and sends me a gift card to a clothing store with the hint that maybe I should consider buying something that isn’t stained, faded, ripped or torn. Thank God for my family or I would run around most the year in threadbare rags. This would be fine if I could just work on the farm all the time. Unfortunately I also work off the farm and my co-workers and supervisor have some strange belief that I should be able to show up to the office looking like a professional. Weirdoes!!!

For years my SIL, who actually has phenomenal taste in clothes and enjoys shopping, would send me her clothes when she got tired of them. Those giant boxes of clothes sent once a year or so were a God send and made me look like I actually knew what I was doing in the fashion world. And then the unfortunate happened….I outgrew her, meaning, I grew rounder and she didn’t.

Today, was apparently another instance of me not dressing myself well for work. After I got to work I noticed that jeans were way too short (I took the term ‘high waters’ all the way to ‘flood plains’) and my top had stains on it. Lots of stains!! I’m really not sure how I missed seeing them all, expect for the fact I rarely look as I grab something out of the closet and there wasn’t much to chose from in there anyway. So I wore my jacket all day and accepted my fate. This meant I was going to go shopping in the near future.

Since I had to stop at the local store on the way home to pick up a few things for dinner I thought I would run through the clearance clothing section and see if I could find a new shirt there and be done with the dreaded task quickly and fairly painlessly. (Isn’t it cute that I had such optimism…..totally misplaced optimism, as it turns out, but cute nonetheless.) Instead I found that once again I am totally out of sync with the rest of society. What apparently passes for the current fashion fade is not something that I would ever consider wearing….even if it were given to me free!  Granted the long flowing embroidered tops could be pretty….if you are tall (I’m not), willowy (I’m more round) and  like that flow-y  flower child kind of look (which I don’t).

I left the store pretty bummed to think that another shopping trip was in order, until I walked outside and noticed that the sun was shining, it was a balmy 45 degrees and I was able to be outside without a jacket. It made me giddy to think spring is on the way and I might have even done a little dance right there in the parking lot, because it doesn’t take much to make me happy. So I headed home to play with my goats in the sunshine and they don’t even care that my clothes are stained. Goats are good like that. ❤ my goats!

Life on the farm

Red, the Wild Woman of Fable Farms

Ramblings from the farm:
Yesterday we were in a hurry to finish chores and run to town to do some errands. As we took the feed out to the goat pasture we noticed that Red was in season and hanging out at the buck fence. This was a little upsetting since we thought she had been bred last month. *sigh*

Okay, change of plans. Put the feed buckets down, go wrangle up Red (the Wild Woman, who hates to be caught) and put her in the feed lot. Then go grab Crackshot and bring him to the feed lot. We let them have their ‘visit’, which hopefully got the job done this time!

Crackshot wooing the girls

We put the goats back in their perspective pens and went to grab the feed buckets only to discover the dogs decided to clean them out for us. *sigh again* These things seem to happen whenever we’re in a hurry. Anyway, we refilled the buckets and got everyone fed.

You’d think the story would end there right??? Oh no…..that would be too simple. This morning we woke to some lovely ‘gifts’ from the dogs, who’s tummy’s apparently aren’t build to digest goat food. Who knew??? *triple sigh* Thankfully Hubs found most of it and cleaned it before I even knew about it. (Note: that’s true love ladies. A guy who will tackle dog crap first thing in the morning, even before their coffee is a keeper.)

Now Hubs is headed off to get a ton of hay and I need to pack up the soaps that will be shipped Monday. We had hoped that we would have the old hay barn fixed up and ready to store 5-6 tons of hay to get us through the winter but that just hasn’t happened. I’ve learned that basically farming is a lot of careful planning. You make detailed plans with a balanced consideration of your man power, money and time. Then sh*t happens and all those plans get tossed out the window and you improvise.