Monday, April 2, 2012

What I've Been Up To and Harsh Realities of Farm Life

Well, on Saturday we butchered Gustav. One harsh reality of farm or homestead life is, if you are a meat-eater, you end up butchering animals.Animals you have petted. Animals that made you smile as they romped around. Animals that you may have helped birth. Animals that you knew personally.
It's a lot different than buying meat at the supermarket.
The Girl took him from his pen and we had prepared a site out of the hearing and sight of the other goats. His mama, Gabby, bleated as her kid was removed from the pen and his twin, Gerte, bleated and ran around the pen trying to find a way to follow. Gustav was her favorite playmate.
After the slaughtering, the Girl came in crying. It was more than she expected.
But after a bit, she "soldiered up" and returned to the butchering table and helped cut the carcass up.
We have goat in our freezer now, in neatly wrapped packages. I plan to fix a Greek dinner this weekend with some of the meat.
While we are talking about "harsh realities", here's another one.
You like traveling and taking vacations?
Don't plan on it if you want to farm/homestead.! Look in the phone book...see any listings for cow sitters in there? Chicken sitters....goat sitters?
I didn't find any such listings, either!
Animals don't take days off. They still need to be fed, milked, watered, have their eggs gathered, etc.
Sure, you can ask a friend or relative to watch the farm while you are gone...but think about it.
Do they know how much to feed? Do they realize that the goats will sneak out the gate anytime they see it open? Do they know the places the hens hide their eggs? And many more details that you know that you can't possibly put down in notes.
You obviously can't go in the Spring when all the little ones are being born. The last couple of months when the mama's are pregnant can be a bit dicey, so their out. So, from March to May is basically a no-go.

High Summer is out...especially if you garden! Have to make sure it's watered and the bugs don't chew up your veggies. Have to keep a constant check on the livestock to make sure they have plenty of water and to make sure they haven't picked up any parasites.So, no trips in June, July or August.

Then you have Autumn. Well, that's harvest time for gardens, making sure you have enough hay and feed to get your livestock through the Winter, etc.Also, breeding some of your livestock. So there goes Septemeber, October and most of November.

Welcome Winter! Surely you can get away for a week or two to visit family or to warm up in a tropical climate then! Uhmmm...probably not...feeding livestock and making sure they are snug and warm in their barns and stalls is paramount.Also, planning next season takes a lot of time and energy!  So, there goes December, January and February!

Then there are the day-to-day surprises that crop up to fill your time! Downed fences, roof leak on the barn, storms that come through and knock down a chicken coop, your tomatoes all ripening at once  so you spend many a late night canning, etc.
I can assure you that cows don't know when your birthday is, goats don't care about Christmas and chickens never take Sundays off!

We always leave someone at home. If we go out to dinner, or a movie or do anything where several members of the family are going to be involved, someone always stays home.
It sucks, but that is the reality!


  1. Great post! I realized early on that we would be hard pressed to even leave for a weekend around here. It is a life you either embrace for what it is or one that you'd be better off passing on.

    1. I have seen a lot of people the past decade that thought farming/homesteading life would be a breeze! They imagined themselves sitting on a front porch, surveying a barnyard with gently scratching chickens, lowing cows and happy, skipping lambs, the scent of lilacs wafting through the morning air.
      Quit laughing yet?
      Yeah...manure, pulling a calf at 2 am in a driving rainstorm and finding the local coyotes have been snacking on their chickens and lambs never comes into their fantasies...

  2. Yes, so true. I worry about my critters when I am not home...worry if they will be talked to or note which one is doing what.

    Funny how one can transform into this life!!

    1. I know each of my animals ...and their quirks! Delores the chicken likes to hide under the cactus in the side yard when I am getting the chickens in their coop for the night. Gabby gets huffy when you milk her if you don't remember to mix a little chicken scratch in with her sweet feed. Molly will knock her feed pan over if you forget to scratch her chin now and again.
      And many other!
      Just so many things that a stranger wouldn't know. I DO worry when I go out...and the first thing I do when I get home is check on the animals!

  3. While we don't have a true farm in the sense,we do have our own assortment here.The rabbits,the gardens,etc,etc,and now customers..

    We are fortunate though to have a really,really good friend who knows our animals,and will come take care of them for a few days as needed.We do the same for him.We work on a barter system and exchange pet sitting,and manual labor back and works out good for us all.

    It is a lot of work,a lot of heartbreak,and also a lot of fun.I wouldn't trade this life style for anything.


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