Farm Follies

I Can Do This

As I slept that first night, I tried not to think about In Cold Blood.  The bellowing from the bulls in the barn worked as a distraction from my thoughts of serial killers and farmhouses. I’d close my eyes, and the fears crept back, however. I’d hear a noise and instantly it became someone walking methodically up the stairs dragging a shotgun behind him. Perhaps Kitt was having some of the same fears as she spent the night on my bedroom floor. I fell asleep to her rhythmic breaths wondering what Day Two would bring.


I woke up before the alarm rang at 5. I have to admit that sometimes I am even up long before my farmer husband. Here’s another secret that I have learned living on the farm — in the summer, beef farmers don’t have to get up before the sun. Hell, Xandy sometimes sleeps in until 7 or 8 on the weekend if he has had a particularly difficult week. Beef critters on grass practically take care of themselves, practically. When people think of farmers getting “up before the sun” they are thinking about dairy farmers. I know local dairies whose farmers sometimes have to get up even earlier than usual to milk. They set their alarms for midnight. Every now and again Xandy threatens to buy milking cows, and I threaten to move to Denver.

The morning of day two,  I had to not only “feed things” — I also had to get both myself and my daughter ready for school. Luckily, the morning chores only consisted of feeding the bulls in the barn. I pushed my way around the 25 bales that I had dropped the evening before, and tossed about 3/4 of a bale in to the bulls with a pitchfork. Sam whined outside and I yelled something about him having to wait for dinner.

“Go eat some grass, Sam. You’re fine!” He “meaooooed” again.

I fed my “thing” in the kitchen shredded wheat and milk, jumped in the shower and thought, “I can do this.”

As I drove to school I wondered what would happen if the cows got out. I envisioned coming home to some sort of cow-pocalypse with traffic backed up for miles due to an angry herd in the middle of the road. I promptly forgot about it as I opened my classroom door. The cow-pocalypse would have to wait, I had my own angry critters to tend with.

By the time Kitt and I got home for the weekend, I felt like a critter feeding pro. I put a bucket out for Sam, fed the bulls , and the cats, and went in to give Kitt a bath.  The 25 bales were gone. I guess they were “green enough.” Around 7:30, mid-bath, I heard a large rumbling sound outside. I told Kitt not to drown, and went out to see the noise.

“Hey, Xandy told me to drop these guys off.”

“What guys?”

“Two piglets. You knew I was coming right?”

Um yeah, but I kind of hoped you had waited. 

He unloaded the pigs under the barn, made sure that I knew what I was doing with them (HA!), and left for the night.

Kitt donned her footie PJs and barn boots, and came out to feed our new pigs with me. “Mumma look. They are scared!” I’d be scared, too, if I knew that someday I’d be bacon. “They’re ok, hon. Let’s feed them”

I slept with two phones and my car keys near my bed. I read on Facebook that you can scare intruders away with the “panic” button on the key chain. I hoped I didn’t have to try it out.


Saturday brought day three of the heat-wave. Along with that heat came the determination that I had to get my own “to-do” list done. I wanted to prove to Xandy that I could do just as much as he could on the farm, and my plan was to get the backyard ready for summer. Xandy had already taken the tarp off the pool, so I was left with getting the pool cleaned, the garden planted, and the back yard mowed —  in that order, of course. I also promised Kitt a trip to the local indoor pool since ours was far from ready. The break would be both of our rewards for putting up with me trying to run this place.

I fed the pigs and the bulls, yelled at Sam again, and set off to work.

STEP ONE: Pool vacuum. Where the hell was the pool vacuum??? I knew that I had seen it somewhere. So I searched. For more than an hour I searched. I searched through the basement, through the garage, through the house, through the summer kitchen, even through the attic. I could not find the automatic pool vacuum or the long pole that I need to run the manual vacuum anywhere. Under the garage I found a longer pole that carried the snow scoop for the roof. Kitt and I found a set of screw drivers and worked to make a make-shift pole for the vacuum. 2 hours gone.

STEP TWO: Vacuum the pool. I turned the vacuum on only to find no pressure. After a couple of tries I decided that the newly put together pool pump must be clogged. I got the ratchet set and unscrewed the 20 or so bolts holding the pump together. Through the sheets of sweat flowing over my eyes, I was able to clean the fingers on the filter and put the entire thing back together, only to find that the reason there was no suction was due to a different screw that I hadn’t put back on right. Another hour gone.

My sister came over to bring an old weed trimmer so that I  could get some of the back yard done. It didn’t start. Another 30 minutes gone.

We put the vacuum on the makeshift pole, and started to vacuum. What a pain it is to vacuum with a pole that is only about 6 inches taller than the water.

“Mumma, I’m hungry.” Oh, yeah. I have a kid.

STEP THREE: Lunch for Kitt.

As I served her I realized that it was almost time to leave for the pool. 1:00 PM — where was the day?

STEP FOUR: Indoor pool for Kitt. Left the pool around 3.

STEP FIVE: Heck, we might as well get ice cream on the way home. Sure we can go to the one with rides.

TIME UPDATE: 4:00 PM — Really? Where had the day gone?

STEP SIX: Garden. And Kitt. Oh yeah, Kitt.

“Mumma, I’m really tired. Can I just watch some TV?” I noticed that her eyes were beginning to roll back in her head. Dinosaur Train it is. Wow, am I a bad mom.

Back to the garden. By this time, the weather had thankfully broken, and a nice breeze settled onto the backyard. I looked at our flats of seedlings and packets of seeds and wondered where for the love of all that was good and holy that I was going to fit them all. This year we had decided on a “transition” garden. This was for me mostly because I broke out into a full-bodied rash whenever I went out into our weed-infested 1/4 acre garden last year. Xandy made some comment about having to get out in the garden more than once a month to keep the weeds down. More on that in a later post. I’ll just say here that we are opting for raised beds this year.

By 7 pM I had the garden in and started to think about dinner. I went in to ask Kitt and found her snoring on the couch, out for the night.

Sea Dog Blueberry Ale it was.

I fed things, frustrated that I still hadn’t mowed the lawn. Tomorrow Xandy would be home. Tomorrow I would be able to not worry about sloshing through cow manure to turn water on for the bulls. Tomorrow Sam’s bellows would not have the same ring. Tomorrow I won’t have to work so hard. Tomorrow.

I fell asleep to the sound of the bulls bellowing in the barn. Tomorrow I would learn that I wasn’t feeding them quite enough. No wonder they wouldn’t shut up.