"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a farm and live entirely surrounded by cows–and china."

Charles Dickens

July 29, 2014

Farmwifery – An Update


I originally wrote this piece in January 2011 when I was just starting the blog. It needed a bit of updating, so here goes: [in RED] My family was also recently featured in a "Huffington Post" article on our journey from New Hampshire to our Kentucky ridge farm. The piece tells a bit more about our story.

Farming is not something out of the pages of a magazine, although old stuff and a big country kitchen helps. A lot. Here are some of the things I've learned so far in the past few years on our farm:
  • On a farm nothing happens overnight, except for frost (or a newborn animal).
  • When it first frosts, Johnson grass produces cyanide so you can't let your cows near it for at least 24-hours. Fortunately, a nice neighbor told us this.
  • Doublewides are not (technically) trailers, but they're not real houses, either. [But the local water department and everyone else calls them trailers.]
  • Young fawns are all too easily maimed or killed by haying equipment. Soft-hearted, but insane, farmers care for injured deer, much to their joy and, sometimes, sorrow.
  • Free-range chickens are adorable, until they poop all over your porch.
  • When a neighbor says 'you be careful!' as you're leaving, they're not cautioning you about a hillbilly hit. It's a nice, friendly form of 'goodbye.' [But 'you come back when you're ready' is really less obtuse.]
  • Clean cattle tanks make excellent places for a good cool bathe in a pinch. [Click here: view #11]
  • Robert Frost was right: Good fences do make good neighbors. But he didn't say anything about when those fences are moved without permission or boundary lines are altered on maps.
  • If you throw on an apron when someone is coming to the door, it goes very far towards tidying up.
  • If you wear an apron around the farm, you don't have to wear a bra.
  • Biscuits and sausage gravy make the best breakfast––and easy to make (the biscuits and the gravy, both). I can't believe it took me 45 years to even learn of this combination!
  • Supper at 10pm is not uncommon during hay season when every ounce of daylight is utilized. [And fortunately, this is my more 'manic' time of year.]
  • Boys love tractors. So do their fathers. [But on our farm I am only allowed to drive a riding lawnmower. There is good, but arguable, precedent for this.]
  • A mud room is a must-have on a farm, ideally with a shower, or at least a nearby fire hose.
  • The sound of absolute silence is absolutely lovely.
  • It's great to have neighbors, but it's even nicer when they can't see you.
  • If I didn't have satellite internet I could probably not be a farmwife. On a quiet ridge. In Kentucky...that is, until lightning strikes and knocks it out (August 2012) and you are promised DSL "soon." [As of May 2014 we now have DSL!]
  • Do not name your animals if you intend to sell them or eat them.
  • Learn how to put up a lot of your own food––canning or freezing––and buy a generator.
  • Beware the reality that you might be conflicted about raising animals, caring for them, and then selling or eating them.
  • Do not expect to make a regular pay check farming––or freelance writing.
  • Learn to roll with the punches, the losses, the sorrow, the weather, the fickle income, or you won't make it as a farmer (or for that matter, most weather aside, as a freelance writer).
  • When you see a rainbow or a newborn calf, the barn is full of hay, or cool breezes are blowing, say "AH!" and be glad: there might be a windstorm or drought another day, or a sickly cow.
  • Enjoy the moment, plan for the future, but do not look back...EXCEPT when a bull is in your vicinity.
You come back when you're ready!

Catherine

1 comment:

  1. This is my first time commenting but I've enjoyed reading your blog for some time. This post hit home. We moved to the country 38 years ago and, by experience, found all those red highlights so true. We are now surrounded by city but enjoy our property and farm life memories. Patty Mc

    ReplyDelete

Welcome to the farm! I hope you feel free to comment and share here. I will respond as often as I can.