Week 23 – Baseball gloves are great for picking strawberries!
There must be something about being 5 years old and wanting to farm. My middle child, Maddock, made the cut this week and is proudly showing his haul of strawberries from my weedy garden. If he hears the skid loader or a tractor start up, he asks if I’m running it and if so I’ll usually see him standing there with those baby blue eyes wanting to jump in and head out for chores. My oldest son, who is 9 now, did the same thing when he was 5. I’m embracing the fact that they want to be a part of the farm and ignoring that it takes me twice as long to do chores when they come along. You would think a 5 year old would eventually run out of questions to ask wouldn’t you? Not so much. Maybe I’ll just consider this an investment in the future.
We had rain, glorious rain, over the weekend. Not a lot Saturday morning but a good soaker Saturday night as we were dodging potential hail and funnel clouds. This will make everything explode with growth once the sun comes back out and will put my mind at ease for the rest of June. I will say that the weeds like rain too, but we have our college greenhorn taking those to task…I hope. He was just in the office moaning about the trimmer not working properly but hopefully he figures it out and keeps the grass of the electric fence. This morning, as I was grinding coffee beans for my French press, I looked out and saw 2 red angus heifers in my orchard, rubbing aggressively on the apple trees. If the grass gets too tall on the fence it will negate the electricity pulsing through the fencing system. There always seems to be a few renegades that can sense the lack of juice and play hooky from the herd until we trick them back in to the appropriate pasture. Hopefully the fence gets back to having a punch and we keep those 4 legged grass-munchers where they belong.
I have to share a funny story from last night…and proof that you can’t take yourself too serious when it comes to farming. Just before dark I went up to neighboring farmstead to top off the water tank for the hogs. Earlier in the day I wasn’t sure their self-feeder was flowing smoothly so I was checking on that as well. Sure enough the feeder was completely empty at the bottom, while the top was plumb full of our non-gmo feed. Now imagine I did not have on my typical chore cloths….just an old pair of tennis shoes and some weekend shorts. Now try to imagine me over the next 20 minutes trying to get enough leverage hanging over the fence to tip the feeder (100+ pounds). I managed to tip it over but only in the uphill direction so not enough feed poured out to empty it and for me to unclog the bottom. Every time I was close to tipping it in the right direction, a big, and growing bigger by the day, hog would put its fat butt right in the way. At one point they were so aggressively fighting for the spilled grain, they knocked the feeder from my hand and then it was situated to where I couldn’t reach it without getting in their pen. Now a farmer has a few considerations to make before he decides the best solution to the problem. I could leave the scene of the crime and deal with it in the morning…the downside was that they would most likely break the feeder. Hogs are notoriously curious and aggressive to new toys in their living area…gentle is in not in their vocabulary. I could jump in the pen, fight off the hungry pigs, tip the feeder over completely and hopefully clear the jam. By doing this I was sure to soil my shoes and shorts and risk having a pig take me out at the knees. There was a third option, but one that would take a bit of coordination, balance and strength. I will remind you that I am 41 and physically not running on all cylinders post spinal cord injury. I had to tight rope over to the water tank, keep one foot on top without taking a dip in the pool, keep the other foot on the gate and hold on to the top of the gate with my left hand while pushing hard enough to tip the feeder away from me. I was so very very close but yet so far away.….and lost my grip and fell over the feeder and squarely on the back of a hog (think pig rodeo). Luckily, Peppa the Pig didn’t squeal to high heaven and dump me square into the sh#%. The darn thing didn’t even really move, and I was able to stand up, dump the feeder and climb back over without much fuss. I did however manage to take some of the hogs with me and was forced to undress down to my skivvies before I jumped into my pick-up for the 90 second ride back to the house and then straight into the shower. In a nutshell, this is exactly the reason why most farmers don’t raise livestock anymore.
Have a great week, hugs those that you love, grill some deliciously healthy meat and be thankful someone is raising your bacon so you don’t have to!