Monday, September 7, 2009

A Day in the Life (Email Classics)

Written July 18, 2009

So, after I just raced outside with my big 5 gallon bucket full of chilis, hoping to catch my sister Lynda before she left the house at 11:15p, so she could see our abundant harvest, I thought AGAIN about how wonderfully farmy my life is, and thought I'd share a typical DAY IN THE LIFE.

6:15a- Awoke to Mia barking with purpose (you can tell the different barks if you pay attention.) Stumbled outside and found our goat-dog standing on the fence next to the house looking out over the neighboring field and howling and barking. I followed her gaze to see a coyote running for cover - with one of my white roosters in its mouth. This led me down to the chicken coop where I did a count. We have 16 of our 34 chickens that we started the season with remaining. Dadgum coyotes have been picking them off one at a time this summer. I swear I could hear the coyotes talking in my dreams, "Hey honey, I'm gonna run on over to Walker-Mart and pick up breakfast. Can I get anything for you while I'm out? No? Ok, I'll be right back." I was a fairly unhappy camper for awhile - it's discouraging to buy, feed, nurture, feed, manage, feed and talk to these birds and have them picked off one by one by the sniping coyotes.

I'm surprised we're getting any eggs at all - I'd expect the remaining hens to be quivering in a corner all day, certain they'll be the next to go. While we try to keep them penned up, some of those sneaky hens like to escape the coop through the broken door joining the chicken coop to the hog pen. (The door is broken courtesy of Gertie the Goat who is new to the farm, and is trying to earn the admiration of her new roomies by being destructive. We're keeping the spray paint away from her so she can't start tagging the coop as part of some weird girl-gang ritual.) Once they're out of the coop, they're fair game for the brazen desert hunters who I've come to loathe.

7:15a- Finished with animal chores, watering the squash and melons, putting the water on the corn (which I will forget about all day long, until 4p, which means the well pump ran all day long. Can't wait to get our next APS bill), re-washing the laundry I left in the washer overnight, re-count the chickens and curse some more, head back to the house.

8a - Showered, shaved, dressed and made up, ready to head to town. Ran up the hill to get hay at Stock Up, only to find that apparently farmers don't get up so early on a Saturday. Stopped at Safeway instead and bought groceries for the impending cousin visit - including s'mores fixin's for next weekend's camp trip. Chatted with the little old lady who struck up a conversation while closely inspecting the cabbages. You know the type - hair styled once a week at the salon, conservative make up, cotton-linen blend, pastel button-down blouse with slacks....She proceeded to tell me the best way to select a head of cabbage, extolled the virtues of store-bought vs. home-grown cabbage for different culinary purposes, related that her tomatoes had grown beautiful big plants but something keeps eating her fruit so nothing is setting; explained that her neighbor, Betty, was having better luck with her tomatoes, and, upon my relating my chicken woes of the morning, looked me dead in the eye and said in very serious tones, "You need to getchyerself a gun, that's what you need to do." I have no idea who the woman was - just a friendly great-grandmother who believes in predator control, coiffed up-dos,the 2nd Amendment and firm cabbage.

8:45a - Stopped at the Feed & Seed to get hay for the horses, feed for the pigs that apparently are destined to live a good long life, and fixins for my raised bed zucchini plants. Chatted with Karen, the owner, for awhile. She's one of my favorite people - we discussed the country singer who'd been playing at El Rancho last night, where we saw each other when we all showed up for a late dinner. Discussed the dang heat; tried to con her into letting one of her helpers back Mike's truck up to the loading ramp so I wouldn't get laughed at trying to do it myself, then proceeded to do it myself. I don't know if the young whippersnappers getting the hay laughed at my driving, but I'm fairly sure one of them called me "Ma'am." Ugh.

9:30a - Conned Mike into helping me unload all my treasures and finish up the last few chores up at the barn. Discussed what to do about the chicken mortality rate. Lined the kids out on the chores they had to complete before their cousins arrived today. Hollered at the kids for the next 2 hours to keep going on their chores; cleaned out the fridge to make room for all the groceries; made the hogs happy with the buckets of food I pulled from the fridge; vowed not to buy any more food without a menu so that I don't waste food. Said a little grateful prayer that we didn't have to throw anything out - at least the pigs are eating the stuff and we'll eat them so eventually we're eating the food after all..... Felt bad when the flour coated the pigs' heads when I dumped one of the buckets in their pen, but the greedy old toads won't get out of the way and they about kick the stall down trying to get at the buckets. Poor pathetic creatures (who I periodically thank for the sacrifice they'll be making for our family in the not-too-distant future.) Holler at the kids a little more, do a few more house chores, leave the house with an admonition that no one is to stop working while I'm gone - they are to stay focused. They are not even to stop for lunch until I get home (if I'd known I wouldn't be home til 3, I would have amended that one.) Refill turkeys' water in the heat and immediately regret feeling sorry for the little turds since they spent the whole time I was trying to retrieve and replace their waterer pecking HARD at my fingers. We'll see who gets the last laugh, Butterballs!

12:15 - Pick up lunch for Mike, then head off to Heber to pick up nieces to stay for the week. Chat with the in-laws about camping plans for next weekend, load up the girls and their gear and head home.

3:30p - Arrive home, drop off girls to squealing cousins. Pause to watch Kayla, the 7-yr-old, laugh in sheer delight as she chases the ducks. Drive back to town to pick up Mom's birthday gift and cards, then stop at Mom's to raid her freezer and pantry for the fixins for her birthday dinner tomorrow (What?!? I didn't want to go to another store. I was pooped! Besides, she's always telling me to get the meat out of her freezer before it burns - and she's the one who asked for enchiladas for her birthday, ok??) Kiss the husband who has been sanding Mom's just-unearthed wooden floors much of the day, then head back home. Instruct girls to go gather eggs; see the delight on Kayla's face at the suggestion, and wonder just how long it will take before the novelty wears off for her (hasn't worn off for me yet...).

4:30p - Plop on couch and check email, cruise favorite blogs for 30 minutes. Determine NOT to spray garden with calcium supplement, considering the wind is blowing like crazy; find out that neighbors have been working in garden during said wind storm, then feel abashed that I didn't see their car and thus let them get sandblasted in my backyard while I surfed the 'Net! Yikes!

5:15p - Start cooking enough potatoes and summer sausage for small army, forgetting we added 3 young girls to the mix today, not a dadgum platoon. Rationalize that leftovers will come in handy for small meal before church tomorrow afternoon. Have so much fun using food processor to slice potatoes, that I decide to boil 7 lbs of potatoes to shred for hashbrowns to freeze and use for Sunday morning breakfast.

6:00p - Realize there is still way too much food - run dinner in to Mom and Dad. Come home and feed family.

7:30p - Now that wind has died down, head out to garden to finish watering. Entice Mike to come out and "talk" while I pick chilis for Mom's birthday enchiladas. Pick nearly 5/6 of a 5 gallon bucket (we're coming full circle here) then run in and get a Coleman lantern so we can see as we finish watering. Chat with Mike while I hold the lantern and he weeds (see how that worked out for me? I'm a genius.) Thank Mike for monkeying with the broken chicken coop door so we have hope of avoiding coyote carnage for the night.

9:30p - Return to the house full of laughing cousins. Get on computer for another 20 minutes; Mike settles next to me to read the headlines then vacates the couch when I start looking up recipes for pickling jalapenos. Act blase so the kids can't tell by looking at me where the various cousins are hiding during their rousing game of "Sardines."

10:30p - Head to the kitchen to grate the potatoes for the hashbrowns. Decide I better find a potato pancake recipe once food processor turns potatoes into glutenous globs. Brave the dark on way out to shed to get the roaster - feel heart skip a beat as I scrape open the warped door, let the dog and kitten in first to snoop out any interlopers of the furry or slithering variety, and leap to pull the string to turn on the bare light bulb. Carefully lift down the roaster, making sure nothing's moving in it - then stand back and stare at the neat rows of glistening, empty canning jars. Wonder about what's going to end up in the jars, admire the darling little jelly jars that Adam found when cleaning out the shed, pull the string and hustle out the shed, hoping the kitten made it out before I scraped the door shut behind me as fast as possible and bolted back to the house. Scrub roaster - just in case - and put pork loin on to cook overnight for Mom's birthday enchiladas. Pray I can find the recipe for the homemade chocolate cake she wants for tomorrow.

11:15p - See headlights signalling someone has brought Adam and my visiting niece Haley home from yet another stinking 40th birthday party planning nonsense, and hurry to grab bucket of chilis to show off to whoever it is. Chat with Lyn for awhile.

11:45p - Realize that I'm doing things like gardening by lantern light, chatting with old ladies, making hashbrowns just before midnight, and running outside in my PJs to show off a Home Depot-orange bucket full of chilis. Also realize it's the end to a pretty typical day (just interchange more laundry and more hours of gardening with any of the above) on the farm, and decide to share. I'm fairly certain there was a time in my life when I got up with an alarm, got dressed, commuted, officed, meetinged and came home to kiss the kids goodnight. I had no idea I was missing out on all this fun.

12:47a - Oooooooooo - just heard the coyotes start up. They better stay away from my chickens......

Love from the farm,

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