Sure I'm use to deadlines and being in a crunch, but I'm not a fan of feeling rushed. Admittedly I am a fan of reality television, especially shows like Amazing Race, Top Chef, Face Off and the likes. Sitting at home it's easy for me to think, just slow down for a second. I know it's probably wrong, but I get a chuckle out of a contestant scrambling and fumbling trying to hurry through a task. I always wonder how the folks on these shows don't get hurt....chasing after a cow to get a cup of milk, frantically trying to lead a horse through an obstacle course. It's common sense, certain task require a calm, easy going manner. The television shows crack me up because you now things are not going to go smoothly and there is humor in that.
Last week I had a day that started like every other day. I have a casual routine that I adjust as needed. This allows me to not only operate and run a small farm, but it also gives me the opportunity to work on my art and grow my business as a photographer. I bounce back and forth between the two all day long. Both provide me with a full day of activity which I have learned to balance....most days. There's always a sense of what needs to be done. Task I have time to complete, what I can put off to another time, and what must get done TODAY. Although I often work under a sense of urgency, on occasion it becomes more sitcom like than real life.
When I awoke Wednesday of last week, I knew things would be a little different. My little dog, Ms. Robbie hadn't been feeling well for a day or two and I decided in the middle of the night I would make a vet appointment for her when we got up for the day. I usually try and make my appointments for the afternoon so I have time to get my farm chores done before I do any running or errands for the day. The start of the domino effect began when I called the vet and they only had one appointment left....it was in one hour! Here I am still in my pajamas, I haven't eaten yet, I haven't opened chicken houses or watered, the dogs and cats haven't been fed....nothing has been done yet.
In an effort to let my chickens, ducks and guineas out for the day, and to give them fresh water before I headed to town, I went out to do chores in town clothes. Since I had less than an hour now before my vet appointment and the drive alone being 25 - 30 minutes....I found myself in a RUSH. Just like a reality television show, let the comedy of errors begin. Rushing is never a good thing and I know this, but sometimes life requires us to kick it up a couple notches.
With limited time before I needed to be at the vets office, I was trying to rush over the ice and snow, hurrying from chicken house to chicken house to get them open so everybody could get out and run around if they chose too. Being in a hurry I had to struggle with doors froze shut and a frozen water faucet. As I became increasingly rushed to get houses open and chickens watered, I came around the front of the big house, caught the toe of my boot on a ice chunk and down I went. It seemed to be in slow motion. I actually tried to will myself to return to a standing position....but that didn't happen. Boom, face first into the chicken poo speckled ice and snow. To top it off, I am in my town clothes. Not having any time to waller or cry, I jumped right up and hurried on my way.
After changes out of my town clothes into chore clothes I head outside to work on chores. The water faucet is still froze so I carry jugs of water for the chickens from the house. I run (fast walk) house to house throwing out feed for the chickens. As I head towards the cows up by the barn, I chuckle, how much farther it seems in the winter. Weighed down with a ton of clothes, looking like the country cousin of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, trying to make it through the snow and ice, it seems to be a workout designed for those who do not have access to a proper gym.
It would of been nice if I had, had a bale of hay that was already started and easy for me to roll out, so I could pitch hay. No....that was not happening. I would need to get a fresh bale started, which is a chore in itself, as the outer layer of hay is always crusted and hard to get through. I look for my pitchfork but cannot find it. Then I realize I had taken it to the big chicken house the night before so it would be out of the weather and stay dry. I know it may seem odd to keep a pitchfork out of the weather so it can stay dry but when the handle is snow covered and it's bitter cold outside, it really does make a difference. I will soak through a pair of gloves and my fingers are froze before you know it. There is no way I can feed the cows without my pitchfork so I head back down to the house, grab the pitchfork and head back to the cows.
With the freshly fallen snow on top of the older trampled snow, I am having trouble getting the large bale to budge. I've worked and worked on the bale trying to get the crusted layer of hay pulled off, but now I need to roll the bale to get the remainder of old hay off and so I can peel off fresh hay. The cows have all gathered and have broken into some sort of war chant......feed us, feed us, feed us. I'm sure their moos can be heard in the next county and add to my urgency as they begin to push against the gates. My biggest fear is that someone gets hurt as they crowd around to be fed. I jab the pitchfork in the hay trying to use it as leverage to get the bale rolling....nothing, it wont budge. I must resort to brute strength. Again, I jab the pitchfork into the bale and I lean into it with my shoulder. I try to push my way up under the bale with my knee as I lean in pushing with my shoulder and with the pitchfork jabbed into the top of the bale. Nothing. I now try to employ a rocking technique.....nothing. This bale doesn't want to budge. I work at trying to peel more hay from the outer shell but it acts like it has been woven together with strands of rebar.
Time is ticking, cows are mooing and I need to get them fed webinar or not. I jab the bale again, lay my shoulder back into it and try again to get it to roll. As it starts to move a little I prop my knee against it and I'm able to push it up a couple inches. I dig in a little deeper, I now have the bale starting to head in a forward position but I have wedged myself under with my knee and shoulder. I am holding the weight of the bale against me trying to keep it from rolling back into it's little cubby hole it had made in the snow. In the process of trying to push the bale forward my right foot had started slipping out of my boot and both my socks had fallen down and somehow made their way into a wad around my toes. My flesh against cold rubber boots in the frigid cold became a distraction as did my frozen fingers as I tried to push on the pitchfork while wedging myself more and more under the bale to get it to tip forward. I was stuck. Afraid if I tried to back out, not only would I loose what ground I had made in getting the bale to move forward, but that most likely I wouldn't be able to move fast enough to get out of the way.....becoming trapped under the hay.
As I tried to regain my breath and my strength, still wedged under the bale of hay with my boot half on, my socks around my toes, fingers freezing....sweat started to roll down my face as my glasses fogged up. What to do, what to do, what to do? Mustering up the last bit of strength I pushed, dug in a little deeper, pushed, dug in more, pushed and I found myself at the teetering point. I was able to hang onto the bale with the pitchfork as I straightened my back and stood up. I pushed my glasses down my nose so I could see over the tops. My breath had not only fogged them up but it had created a layer of frost on the lens. Now I could push the bale forward over the little snow ledge. It was like the heavens had opened and music began to play as the bale rolled gently across the snow.
Farming is filled with challenges, some more frustrating than others but I try to maintain a positive attitude. I find myself amused at many of my own daily adventures. They are not always funny at the time, but I do get a chuckle later, especially when I think how my life seems to play out like a reality sitcom at times. All in all, everything ended well. I made it in the house with six minutes to spare before my webinar was to start. Just enough time to change into my house clothes (PJ's), throw a tv dinner in the microwave and get logged in! Whew.
Join us next week for the continuation of Around The Farm, featuring Kim and her critters. Now for a word from our sponsors....