Not really this way! I've seen paintings of these farms. I've seen pictures of them in books. I've seen them depicted on television. Smiling farmers and their wives carrying buckets of feed to contented critters and toting filled-to-the-brim buckets of eggs and fresh veggies back to the cute little farm house with the checkered table cloth. Oh, how I wish it was all so glorious. But the struggle is real, my friends.
Sleeping in? Nope. Well, you might get to sleep in, but you will always pay. I can't count the number of times when the early morning knock on the door pops us into consciousness with the panicked question of "What's out now?" The 6:00 a.m. phone calls from our neighbors telling us the cows are in their yard. The late night barking of the dog alerting us to the cattle who are now nibbling the grass in our orchard. These moments have given us opportunity to bond with our neighbors and make some great friendships. Early morning walks with the folks up the road bringing the herd home provide quality moments that will last a lifetime. It even gave our dog and their dog a chance for a "play date".
My favorite (I say half jokingly), was the Saturday when the cows went on quite the expedition. My parents had to come stay with the kids while we went after our cattle who had gone over a half mile away and joined another pasture of another neighbor's cattle. It ended up being a several hour and multiple neighbor process of getting them home. As we were working on sorting our herd from theirs, the other farmer commented on being glad it was someone else's cattle this time instead of his! My feet were blistered as I left in such a hurry I didn't put on socks with my boots. I needed my coffee. We ALL needed coffee. We had just gotten the cattle back in their pen and I looked at our neighbor's t-shirt which read, "Let Me Drop Everything I'm Doing and Solve Your Problem". I cracked up. I love a good irony and that definitely qualified! Thankfully he was willing to do that for us.
Enjoying a late dinner out? Nope. Things need to be fed and if I could pinpoint the testiest of the farm animals it would be the pig. You'd think those things could read a clock. Their snouts might be the strongest thing in nature and they aren't afraid to use them for evil. They lift panels with a single motion and are on the run, their babies trailing happily after. We even have one sow who has learned to make the grain bin a self-serve feeding option. You've gotta be there and you've gotta be there on time or there is payback coming.
|This is Mary, the very independent pig, getting her own breakfast. |
I even think she might be laughing at us.
I love seeing the sheep on grass, until I realize it's actually my backyard and not the pasture they're eating. Luckily sheep are easy to put back. God was not necessarily kind when He referred to us as sheep in the Bible. They will gladly trail any bucket - whether filled with rocks or corn.
Vacations? Ha. Once every three years, if we're lucky. But that's a post for another day.
Add into this equation 10:30 p.m. dinners, missed family reunions at wheat harvest (although this might have been calculated), postponing gift opening on Christmas Eve due to frozen cattle waterers, spending snowy nights pulling people from ditches and missed church services and meetings due to ewes in need of aid, rampant livestock escapees and who knows what other surprises.
But it's funny on the farm because there is the frenzy of fur and feathers when the feeding begins. Everyone gets excited and the farm becomes a noisy place. Then there's the calm after the storm. Swishing tails, hens nestled back into their nesting holes, moms nuzzling babies, babies calmly nursing. That's what you see in pictures. What you don't see, is the insanity that ensues just before that picture-perfect moment. But it's our insanity and we kind of love it, in our own way.
As I sit here typing this, I note the farm silence. All is fed. All is well. For a few hours.