You can’t be nasty-nice on a farm. Sure, we have those idyllic moments. You know, picnicking in the green pasture with cows lowing in the distance while the kids frolic after lightning bugs to capture in Mason jars. Watching the girls and dogs play chase on hay bales, jumping from bale to bale. Gathering eggs as the birds cluck happily. This is the stuff memories and movies are made of.
But the day-to-day caring for critters is a hands-on, no-holds-barred muck fest. So, today I’m going to show you a bit of the underbelly of farm living. Consider this a cautionary tale for jumping into the country side of life, or a glowing endorsement…that’s all up to you, gentle reader!
- Poop happens. It happens every day. And when poop mixes with heavy rains, high heat, and humidity (June, anyone?) you get quite the fragrant soup. It has rained so much this summer that the poop of pigs who’ve been gone for two years resurfaced in their former pen.
- The chicken pen is no place for flip-flops. See above.
- All animals must be fed and cared for twice a day without fail. This means feeding in the rain, gathering eggs, letting the geese in and out, and trying to lure the runaway guinea back in the pen…that’s an ongoing project. A mudroom becomes essential; you can’t wear your chicken pen shoes to church!
- Our fowl pens are sloped to help move excess water, mud, and poop. That means when you stand outside the pens to feed the birds you are standing on well-fertilized ground. See #2.
- When it’s time to feed animals, you’d best not be dressed for your day job. Too many things can go wrong, and critters fling/splash/stomp poop. It’s just easier to do morning feedings in pajamas and shrimp boots.
- Got children? Sex education occurs naturally on the farm. Jack the Ass, in particular, likes to air everything out on hot days. Captain Kirk, one of our roosters, has absolutely no shame (or bird species preference, apparently).
- Animals die. If one of your children proclaims any given critter (duck/goose/chicken/cow) to be a favorite, you might as well hang a “doomed” sign around its neck. Accidents happen. Predators happen. Oversights happen. It can be grisly. It’s also a great teacher of responsibility, accountability, and natural order. As carefully controlled as you make the farm, “Wild Kingdom” events will happen from time to time.
- Vacations take planning and help. The animals still need food and water while you’re away. You can’t just put a big pile of feed out there and tell them to ration it for the week! When it comes to taking care of animals, there aren’t days off.
Life on a farm can be smelly, but it sure is fun!