People always ask me what it’s like living on a farm. My typical answer is “busy” but I finally decided to chronicle a day in my life for your enjoyment.
6:45 am – Wake up to a call from the post office telling me to pick up my mail-order of turkey chicks.
6:45-7:10 am – Drink coffee while checking work email.
7:10-7:25 am – Get dressed, insert contacts, brush teeth, shove hair under a hat and find car keys. Push a sleeping cat off the car before pulling out of the garage.
7:25-7:45 am – Drive to the post office and pick up turkeys. Drive home with a backseat full of chirping.
7:45-8:15 am – Open package to find 10 healthy chicks. Prepare turkey brooder (large old stock tank) with shavings and teach chicks how to drink and eat. Spend three minutes observing fluffy cuteness.
8:15 am – Get a God-nudge to check baby goats but ignore it and start the trek from the barn to the house.
8:17 am – Get a louder God-nudge to check the baby goats so I turn back around and head to barn.
8:20 am – Find a baby doeling covered in diarrhea and very weak. Coccidia. We’ve never had it before but it’s common with babies in goat herds and easily contracted by animals and humans. Grab my medical kit and syringe-feed her Nutri-drench.
8:25-8:45 am – On hold with the veterinarian’s office while checking work email. Vet tells me to swing by at noon for the meds.
8:45-9:00 am – Wake up human kids and tell them to clean the goat stalls. Find electrolytes and syringe-feed to sick doeling.
9:00-9:45 am – Drive to feed store to buy medicated goat grain to prevent remaining goats from getting sick.
9:45-11:40 am – Feed medicated grain to all goats and syringe feed more electrolytes to the sick doeling. Help boys clean a stall. Prep a dog cage in a separate stall and move sick the doeling there. Stab myself in the shoulder blade with a 5-inch screw when I back into the gate. Try not to 1.) cuss and 2.) cry in front of the two younger boys. Fail at #1 but they kindly ignore me.
11:40-12 noon – Contemplate jumping in the pool with all my clothes on but decide to change into swim clothes. Spend the first 10 minutes cleaning the pool and the remaining 10 minutes talking to each of the human kids about what they need to get done. The realization dawns that I haven’t actually done anything on my lists for the day so I begin mentally rearranging them.
12-1 pm – Drive to the veterinarian’s office. Find that I really need a nap but ain’t got time so I crank up a Meghan Trainor song and have a sing-along dance party in my car. Get meds and remember to pick up blood work results from April. Drive home repeating the sing-along dance party. Doesn’t help. I’m still tired.
1-1:10 pm – Medicate sick doeling and yell at Youngest for not spreading the goat stall bedding around the apple trees after I reminded him. What kind of a farmer wastes free fertilizer?
1:10-2:00 pm – Eat lunch while writing notes for blog, responding to messages from Outdoorsy (where we rent out our camper), checking work email, responding to a bite on a Craigslist ad, responding to someone interested in buying sheep, and logging goat medication and blood work results. Sneak to the refrigerator to see if there is any of my mother-in-law’s famous pecan pie left. Find a piece (a miracle in a house with four males) AND whipped cream. My day is saved.
2:00-3:00 pm – Get through 1/3 of an episode of Good Bones while folding two loads of laundry. Do dishes. Contemplate ignoring the list line clean master shower. Wonder if you can get gangrene from your shower. Decide to risk it.
3:00-3:05 pm – Remove 2 empty milk jugs from the refrigerator and car parts from the kitchen table. Shove multiple pairs of muddy boots out of the way. Remember three new things to add to my to-do list.
3:05-3:20 pm – Syringe-feed the doeling more electrolytes and check turkey chicks.
3:20-6:00 pm – Work for my off-farm job.
6:00-6:30 pm – Make dinner. Syringe-feed the doeling.
6:30-8:00 pm – Weed garden. Pick blackberries. Check sheep. Discover that all of our eggs have disappeared from the coop for the second day in a row. Realize we have a snake somewhere who’s cheating me out of my breakfast.
8:00-8:30 pm – Swim again. Thank God for our pool. Again.
8:30-9:00 pm – Check work email.
9:00-9:15 pm – Clean up dinner mess.
9:15-10:00 pm – Watch TV with Hubs.
10:00-10:30 pm – Syringe-feed electrolytes to doeling and discover that her mom is now sick. Pull sick momma into the stall with the doeling and start syringe-feeding her too. Check all the goats very carefully to make sure everyone else is okay. Try to bottle-feed the sick momma’s healthy buckling since they are now separated. He won’t take the bottle but thankfully another goat momma lets him nurse.
10:30-11:30 pm – Call all the human kids together to explain the course of treatment for the sick goats and how to keep all the healthy goats from getting sick. Warn them that the ill goats might not survive. In our experience, once a goat actually acts sick, it’s too late.
11:45 pm – Finally head to bed.
The baby goat died the next morning and her mom died three days later. My boys continued to syringe-feed every three hours all that time.
Four days later, we still have a snake eating all of our eggs and we’ve done everything but tear the coop down to find it. Someone finally suggested placing golf balls inside the nesting boxes. Apparently, once the snake eats them it can’t eat anything else. We try not to kill snakes but this one is proving very elusive.
I decided to write this blog the night before the eventful day depicted. The complete change of plans for the day is not unusual for farm-life. Chaos is normal. Sheep giving birth, goats escaping, the livestock guardian dog getting skunked, the barn cat marching into the garage with a 3-foot-long lizard, snakes in the
garden, barn, chicken coop, flower bed, a freak storm that litters your property with downed branches, and the electric fence flashing red again. All normal. All painful for this first-born-stick-to-the-plan personality. My advice for future farmers?
Expect the unexpected.
And get an above-ground pool. The snakes can’t get in there.