Friday, March 24, 2006

at peace with the "farm" life

I have never wanted to "crow" on this blog about how I've found the ideal, simple, sustainable country life. Because I'm still working out the many details and mental adjustments of it.

In fact, more often than not, I'm raising my hackles about one aspect or another of animal husbandry.

I will even tell you I'm not much of a horse person.

But, truth be told, the more time I get to spend with the animals and thinking about my gardens, the more I like it, the more I gain the confidence that I can do this.

I have had the last two days off of work while Calvin goes thru yet another mild virus, enough to keep him away from school but not enough to keep him off video games. Go figure. But, instead of blogging the day away and wishing I was at work, blogging the day away, I have found a lot of things that need doing around here but haven't because I or The Hermit have been at work. And I have found the ambition to actually do some of them.

I wasn't raised on a farm, and it's been an adjustment having animals to care for. Also, we pretty much jumped in over our heads, to put it mildly. If I had it to do all over again, we wouldn't have horses yet, and our chicken order last spring would have been much smaller. But you live and learn.

It is a lot easier, however, caring for animals when it's not -10F outside and you have a bit of time to putter around. On a nice spring morning like today, I can go out there without bundling up; even the jacket over my sweatshirt was a bit much. And without having a time schedule to adhere to, I do things that otherwise would not get done. I pitch up the hay the horses have torn loose from the round bales and rolled in and spread all over. I gather the hay that has been too trampled and dirtied for the horses to eat (spoiled creatures, they are) and bring it over to the chicken yard. The chickens appreciate having a layer between them and the mud, as well as the occasional grass seeds to eat. I gather all the old dirty eggs from the nest boxes (a couple broody hens have made this more difficult) and put fresh hay in the boxes so the eggs will stay cleaner.

I stopped short of cleaning out the floor of the chicken coop today, that's a task in itself, plus there are a few mean roosters that make the job more challenging. A few too many; chicken soup, anyone?

I'm starting to think I don't really miss my job on a day like today, a spring day with fresh air and the smell of damp earth so full of possibilities. If we had the house done, and all the bills paid for, would I really need to go back to that job and do mediocre things for fisheries resources? The satisfaction of placing my online seed orders this morning far eclipses anything I could do at work. I got my heat mat out today, the one I put under my seed flats, and the smell of the rubber warming in the sunlight really got me going; it brought me back ten years when I first started starting my own tomatoes and other plants. I may plant lettuce and greens yet today; I'm warming the potting soil in the sun right now.

Ah spring, so full of possibilities.

p.s. I found out today it's really, really hard to take good chicken pictures. Believe me.


Floridacracker said...

Squash is up. Watermelons are up. Ate the first homegrown lettuce and mesclun mix salad two nights ago...discovered I don't like mesclun mix...something very pungent in the mix, ate first garden snow pea fresh off the vines today.

Nice post, we never did horses. They seem so needy. When I listen to horse people talk about them, I wonder, how do these delicate animals ever survive in the wild?

LauraHinNJ said...

Great post. I envy the life you share here (well, maybe not all of it), but it does sound wonderful to someone living in suburbia surrounded by traffic and rude people.

And any day off work is a good day and is loaded with possibilities.

clairesgarden said...

you have to work to pay for the life you want and you cant have the life you want because you have to go to work. . .
there must be an answer to that one!

Deb said...

horses are needy...tell me about least we've managed to keep ours without the frequent vet visits that some seem to require. They do provide some nice compost for my gardens.

lauraH- I can appreciate this life all the more because of my experience living in suburbia.

clairesgarden- I'm looking for the answer too!

Tim Rice said...

Great pics. Raising and caring for animals is lots of fun but can be lots of work. I know; I grew up on a farm.

Liz said...

Nice post, Deb. I still can't decide if it's better to go all out and just get the animals and then deal with the consequences, or spend years planning before you make a move. Sounds like "six of one, half dozen of the other to me". :)