Episode 2: Of goats, hay and building fences….
When you think of a farm or ranch, generally a few things immediatly pop into your head. You probably envision wide open pastures, or rows after rows of corn fields, cows, horses, red barns… things of that nature. That’s kind of the stereotypical vision of a farm. Rarely does anyone think about what goes into it. Or, if they do, its a vague sort of old timey vision of a man in cover-alls getting up with the sun and working on a tractor all day.
Which, isn’t far from the truth at all. Not necessarily the coveralls part, but the up with the sun and working on the tractor parts. Though, I have to say, doing the work with the tractor is a hell of a lot easier than doing it by hand.
I’ve always enjoyed building things; there is, something immensely satisfying about building something with your own two hands. Even if it turns out not quite perfect, or the boards are warped just a bit…. it adds a bit of charm to the structure. After its all said and done, you can stand back and see the accomplishment.
Since our cousins had just moved onto this property last year, there was still a lot that needs to be built. So, last week I get up and join Becky in working in the garden. She finally has her tractor and we need to get the area that’s going to be the garden set up in preparation for Spring.
So, we build a compost bin and moved the compost pile… thank goodness it had been cool out so the pile didn’t stink to high heaven like it normally would.
After that, we started building a fence that would border the garden… yes, we were busy little bees. And ok, maybe its a little crooked and not quite as straight as it could be…but to us it looks good and dammit we think its awesome.
Anyway, as we’re building this fence, I happen to glance over and see that all 3 of the goats are out of their pen. Not surprising, really, they’re stubborn animals and I suspect the male goat lives to slip out of the pen just so he can give us attitude. He likes to slip just inside the fence and then baa at you and I just know thats the goat equivalent to ‘nanny-nanny-boo-boo you can’t get me’.
So, as you already know, the dogs are rather apt at woofing the goats. We’re working on teaching the dogs to herd the animals back into their areas if and when they get out.
We point the goats out to the dogs and tell em to ‘get the goats’; to which we get five different clueless happy doggie grins. Being the helpful human I am… I decide that it’s a brilliant idea to lead by example and SHOW the dogs what I wanted them to do…..
So I take off towards the goats, calling the dogs; who of course, come bounding after me, tails waving high, tongues lolling out with great big doggie grins. How fun! To run with their people and chase GOATS!!!
What possessed me to run, I have no idea. I don’t run. I don’t sprint, I don’t jog, I just don’t…. my knees hate me afterwards and make their displeasure very well known. So unless there’s a bear chasing me…. my @$$ doesn’t run…
And yet, there I was, running across the yard, hollering at some goats…. and wouldn’t you know it, I put my foot in a dang gofer hole. I stumble, my knee decides nope, not doing it barb, and buckles… only old soccer lessons-never quite forgotten, keep me from face planting into the grass. Instead I tuck and roll; not quite able to come to my feet again like I had been able to do back in the day.
However, the initial outcome was a success… the dogs herded the goats back into their pen and gave them what-fors.
Meanwhile, behind me, of course Becky saw me go down and is cracking up. I can’t even blame it on one of the dogs since they were all in front of me.
I climb to my feet and limp back; my knee protesting. Apparently rough-housing with the Dane and having her hip check my knee, plus a stumble are just too much for that joint as by now its making its displeasure very apparent.
Again, I’m glad my husband isn’t around to see that; the asshole (and I say that with love and affection) would have something smartass to say for sure.
We get back to work, knocking out a whole fence on one side of the garden. During this time a neighbor had brought over some big round bales of old hay. Not really good for feeding to cows anymore; however, it will make decent compost for the base of the garden.
Mix some leaves, compost, and hay together and rip it into the soil and let it sit all Winter…. should have a nice rich soil to work with come Spring and it’ll help prevent that area from washing out with the rain.
Right now the ground is nothing but red clay, not exactly the best for growing anything but grass and sticker-burs… which lemme just say OOOWWWWWCH!
Once the hay has been unloaded, there are about four bales that we’re going to spread out across the garden. Now comes the fun part-unrolling it. Which, thanks to how long its been setting, is more difficult then it should be. We have to rip huge sections off and toss them, then we’d roll the bale a bit, ripping sections as we went….
Hay got EVERYWHERE.
I always remembered playing in hay fondly, loved the smell and jumping it it, using the square bales to build forts and slides. One year my cousin’s and I climbed into the rafters of their hay barn -which at the time was full, thus enabling us to get to said rafters -and we would swing from the rafters, drop down onto a hay bale slide we had made, and ended up in a loose pile of hay. We loved it. Had a blast.
I don’t remember hay making me itch quite like this though. It was like a million teeny tiny irritating pins just worrying at any part of me that cloth hadn’t covered.
And the part that never occured to me and really should have, because uh duh…. there were other plants growing in these hay fields. Oklahoma is chock FULL of various thorny bushes, plants, trees etc. So why, oh why, did it never occur to me that there would be stickers in the hay bales? Huh?
To which there were… Whole nasty thorny plants that, in my brilliance, I dragged my hands through attempting to break up this hay. And there were gloves in the blighted truck…why didn’t I stop and grab some? Why?
Because apparently I’m an idiot.
By the time we were done, my hands were COVERED in splinters. I had hay and thorns in my palms, my fingers…everywhere. It took me an hour with clippers and tweezers to get all of the damn splinters out of my skin.
Still, despite all that, we got it done and I felt accomplished. At the end of the day I could go out and say, ‘see, look what we did today’.
So a few lessons I’ve learned in the sort time I’ve been here…
Lesson 1: Chickens are assholes that enjoy making you look idiotic as you attempt to chase them.
Lesson 2: You are not 15 anymore, do not attempt to chase the goats. Nor should you attempt to run at all unless theres an emergency…like, say, you’re being chased by a bear or a rabid bull intent on stopping you into a mud hole.
Lesson 3: You do not have rough, tough hands yet, wear freaking gloves!
And this concludes this weeks Lesson from the Not So Nice Librarian. I hope you all learned something from my stupidity. Tune in next time for more lesson in what NOT to do…..