Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Farms are Fun!

There are some things about owning animals, especially farm animals, that people don't think about.  

The goats don't just graze endlessly in a picturesque manner in their pasture, and you don't just pet them over the fence.  You gotta get in there.  I posted fairly recently about giving them wormer.  The other day I had to trim hooves.  At one point Snowflake had the girl down on the ground (ground covered in goat poo, I should point out) and the girl was yelling "I'm okay, I'm fine, keep going!"  It's like a funny little rodeo, but icky.

Chickens can be incredibly cute.  Again, you don't just toss scratch grain to them at a distance while they peck at the ground in a picturesque flock.  You have to walk (carefully because they get underfoot just like cats do at feeding time) among them to change water and to fill the feeder and find eggs.  Sophie is particularly cute.  She knows that treats come from human hands, and she doesn't mind being petted.  When I bend down to pet her she isn't sure what I'm going to do so she spreads her wings a little (she squats low and spreads her wings to get petted and when she gets picked up) but keeps her neck stretched as long as possible and twists her head around hoping to spot something yummy among my fingers.  When I pull my hand away she does a cute little leap toward my hand hoping to find grain there.  Leap!

Too many cats ... it's normally a good thing to have cats all over the place to keep the rodent population down.  (It's also awesome to have a little dog like Chase to kill rats because only a few cats are tough enough to take on an adult rat, though they bring home babies from time to time.)  But you'd better not get caught near the sliding glass door.  Think it's a chore to let one or two cats in and out all day?  Try five or six.  It's the worst in the morning on a rainy day.  The whining begins as soon as the alarm goes off.  I let them all out, and then some want to come in again five minutes later, and another ten minutes later and by that time one of the ones I let in wants out again, and the barn cat Tom Riddle sees me and freaks out and sprays to mark his territory.  I retreat, but inevitably I pass by the sliding glass door again and there's a kitty out there in the rain with its ears folded down and the silent meow, and one of the ones inside sees me heading for the door and races to be let out ....  All.  Day.  Long.

Dogs and coyotes.  Ah, the eerie and beautiful sound of coyotes in the distance.  Guess what?  The dogs hear them too.  The leader of the pack begins with rapid-fire barks.  The little one yips and runs up and down along the fence, then races to the back, back to the front, bark bark bark.  The leader slows down just about the time the big back-up base starts in with his steady, monotonous barks.  Oh yeah, eerie and peaceful and off in the distance.  Not!  At least our dogs don't howl when they defend their vocal territory, though sometimes I wonder if it might not be better than the barking.  There's something about that staccato that's a little like getting jabbed with a fork at the base of your neck every second or so at 3am when you're trying to sleep.  Besides, if our dogs howled I'd probably join in.

Maybe just the first thousand times.  Then it'd be back to me stumbling to the front door, ripping it open, yelling "Hush!" and then shutting it again before they can all charge into the house and fill it with fluff.

I think living on a farm is a lot more fun than most people realize.  It's just not the kind of fun they imagine.  It's somewhat like having kids.  Before you have them, you have all these dreams and a pretty good idea that it'll be hard too.  Then you have them and wham--it's everything and nothing like you expected, and so much more.

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